Friday, 20 February 2009


New pictures of the baby Rolls Royce codenamed RR4 have been released. It’s badged as the 200EX concept and will make its first public debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

The RR4 is based on the BMW 7 Series long-wheel-base platform but it’s slightly longer and wider than the BMW flagship. Despite being 5.4m long the 200EX/ RR4 is still shorter than the 5.8m ultra ├╝ber Phantom. Even longer is the Phantom long-wheel-base at 6m.

As you may have noticed rear legroom is not found wanting at all. Those tall American basketball players who are part of the RR4’s target market will find it quite useful and comfortable. Infotainment systems like DVD player and screens as well as electronic button to open and close everything will feature.

We are expecting a brand new V12 engine to power the RR4. It may be mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox but an 8-speed is more likely. There are obviously no prices being mentioned of the car yet but a figure of US$257,000 (around R2.6 million) has been bandied about.


Here’s a nice video of the Pagani Zonda R on its first track action at the Monza race track in Italy. It was taken out courtesy of Evo magazine. The Zonda R is the latest in a short line of Paganis that have made it into production.

It’s a car built specifically to perform on a race track, but ironically it was born out of an idea by a big Pagani customer. He wanted a race-focused Pagani Zonda to add to the three others he already has. But the guy doesn’t even like racing! Very few of these cars will be made.

Engine is courtesy of a Mercedes-Benz 6.0-litre V12 AMG which you can clearly hear in the video. It produces a stupendous 552kW and 710Nm of torque. That’s about the equivalent of three SAAB 2.8 turbos, or five Audi A4 2.0 FSIs. In fact it’s about twice as powerful as the 270kW Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG. The driver is obviously having fun in the video as he revs it up just as he starts it up. You really think you are at a Formula One track when it gets going.

I wonder how long it is before Teasers’ boss Lolly Jackson imports one for the collection. Click on the picture to see the video.

Thursday, 19 February 2009


Gauteng, South Africa – A1GP World Cup of Motorsport gave its drivers the opportunity to take in some of the rainbow cultures including a guided tour around Soweto this morning ahead of Go-GP.Org A1GP Gauteng, South Africa this coming weekend.

Covering 120 square-kilometres, Soweto consists of between 50 -60 townships with approximately 2 million people living there speaking between them 11 official languages. The area has a real entrepreneurial spirit with many locals choosing to start their own businesses in their backyards in order to look after themselves and their families. The streets are lined with colourful displays of items on sale from carved animals and beaded jewellery to clothes and pottery.

The first stop for the drivers was the iconic Apartheid Museum and the Nelson Mandela Exhibition where they learned more about the system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government of South Africa between 1948 and 1994.

They then moved on to visit the site of the Soccer City Stadium being built in preparation for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. The stadium is designed to mirror a traditional Zulu bracelet – similar to the ones the drivers were presented with by their tour guide, Jimmy who has been doing this for 35 years.

The drivers then visited the Hector Peterson Monument, one of the cornerstones of Soweto which has the iconic image of 12-year-old Hector Peterson being carried by his friend to the place where he died.

Soweto came to the world's attention on June 16, 1976 with the Soweto Uprising, when mass protests erupted over the government's policy to enforce education in Afrikaans rather than English. Police opened fire on about 10 000 students marching from Naledi High School to Orlando Stadium, with Hector being one of the first students killed after being hit with a rubber bullet at close range. The place where Hector died is commemorated with the monument and the A1GP drivers all paid their respects this morning by placing a white rose each at the site. Despite the tragedy the riots continued for a further ten years.

The drivers continued down the famous Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world with the homes of two recipients of the Nobel Prize - Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The final stop was the Don Mattera School for children with special education needs. The warmth of the welcome by the children as they sang a South African song to the A1GP group brought both smiles and a few tears to the eye. The A1GP drivers were then addressed by Principal Bachelor who also presented each driver with a ‘message in a bottle’ made especially for them by the school children. The messages were prayers of thanks for coming to visit them in their school.

While at the school the drivers took part in some traditional African games with the youngsters. In Soweto, the children cannot afford karts or cars so they get hold of the closest thing to them that they can, in this case, tyres. The children had great fun racing their colourfully painted tyres and wire cars against the A1GP racers in their playground – this is their form of motorsport. Current championship leader Adam Carroll and South African Adrian Zaugg were among the drivers who were all out-raced by the children before finally they all gathered for the reading of a poem ‘when rubber meets the road’ by local poet Mr Donovan Mitchell, who was also mentored by Don Materra.

A1 Team South Africa’s Adrian Zaugg said: “It’s very interesting for everyone today especially the experience with the kids; they all looked pretty happy about us being there and it was exciting to see all the games they play here. It’s also been something special for me I have never spent much time in Johannesburg so some of the sites were new to me.

Looking to the weekend ahead he continued: “It’s always great to race on home soil and have all the people cheering for you I just hope to do them proud and have a good race.”

A1 Team Netherlands’ Jeroen Bleekemolen said: “It was good to see a bit of Johannesburg and hear some of the history of South Africa. It was difficult racing against the children at the school as they are really good but they have had a bit more training. We grew up with Playstations and they grow up doing this but they have as much fun as we did which is great to see.”

A1GP heads to Kayalami motor racing circuit for round five of the 2008/09 season this weekend, 20 – 22 February 2009.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


What’s up with the "S" in TT S?

The Audi TTS is currently the pinnacle of the Audi TT range. It’s the top-of-the range model and the sportiest. At the moment the TT range of cars has the 2.0-litre turbo at the bottom and the 3.2-litre V6 after that. Audi normally badges its near-the-top cars as S models. Examples include the S3, S5 and the S6. But as is not the very top. We know the old RS4 and the new RS6. We also know an RS5 is on the way as well as a new RS4. I also suspect highly that a TT RS is being made which will be powered by a new 2.5-litre force-fed engine making about 260kW.

What makes this car special?

The drop-top canvass roof is one thing. It completely opens and closes (including windows) in an average of 14 seconds through a button located at the centre console. But mostly it’s the engine. Audi has not strayed far from home as it used the same 2.0-litre TFSI engine running cars like the Golf GTI and Audi A4 2.0 TFSI. This time it produces 195kW and 350Nm, which is quite commendable for a four-cylinder 2.0-litre mill.You can tell it's a TTS from the badging, the 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, polished aluminium side mirrors and petrol cap and the Audi S-typical four exhaust pipes.

It must go fast

It sure does. Put through its paces we found it could dispatch the 0 – 100km/h mark in just 6.1 seconds. A quicker time would have been possible we reckon had the turbo spooled faster. Altitudes of 1600m where we test are treacherous for performance. I also didn’t use launch-control but just took off the way a “normal” boy racer would; floor the right pedal. However thanks to the quattro all-wheel-drive system, grip is always present whether it’s during take-off or cornering. You do get a hint of understeer as expected but it’s easily countered by the AWD itself. One of the most enjoyable periods when driving the TTS Roadster is the blip sound it makes when changing up gears especially in semi-auto mode.

Interior is nice

I particularly like the two-tone leather sports seats with closed stitching around the edges. It features sports aluminium pedals, aluminium touches on the dashboard, leather steering wheel with a flat bottom, gearshift pedals at the back of the steering wheel and electrically adjustable seats. My test unit came with extras like satellite navigation, a 6-CD changer, powerful BOSE sound system and parking distance assistance. All in all these and other extras pushed up the price to R628 650. These new TTs are also better with the blind spot than the previous generation.

You’ve just mentioned the price. Isn’t it a bit too high?

It actually falls within its segment, right between the BMW Z4 (due for replacement in Mzansi in mid-2009) and the Mercedes-Benz SLK 350, though all three use very different methods to produce their power. Its Porsche cousin the Boxster is some way up but that’s the price you pay for a Porsche.



ENGINE: 2.0-litre straight four, turbo

POWER: 195kW / 265hp at 6000rpm; 350Nm at 2500rpm

0 – 100KM/H: 6.1 seconds

GEARBOX: 6-speed DSG/ S tronic

TOP SPEED: 240km/h limited

FUEL AVERAGE: 13.8 l/100km

CO2 e: 190 g/km

PRICE: R579 000

NATURAL RIVALS: BMW Z4 3.0si Steptronic, Mercedes-Benz SLK 350, Porsche Boxster Tiptronic

*PRICE RIVALS: BMW 330i Convertible Steptronic, Mercedes-Benz E350, Volvo S80 V8 Geartronic, Audi S5 Tiptronic, Lotus Elise SC, BMW Z4 M Coupe, Volvo XC90 3.2, Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI.


*A price rival falls within R20 000 or so of the subject’s price on either side of its price spectrum.