Friday, 6 March 2009




BMW has launched what is now the leader of its class. The new 7 Series broke cover in South Africa this week during a time when belts are tightening and directors’ fees are being frozen. Such words are pertinent when one glances over the 7 Series price list. More on that later.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009


We finally have pictures of the Renault Mégane RenaultSport! Renault unveiled the new Mégane RS at the Geneva Motor Show yesterday.

The car is based on the new Mégane hatch which is due in South Africa later this year. Although we didn’t quite call it at 190kW, the Mégane is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo engine worth 183kW (250hp) and 340Nm of torque. So we were 7kW short, what’s 7kW between mates? Anyway, it’s mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox.

It sports LED daytime running lights as per the usual requirement of modern cars (thanks Audi), a limited slip differential (LSD), a sports chassis and 18-inch.

Once again it looks like the Renault Mégane will kick out more power than its chief rival the Golf 6 GTI which only makes 155kW.

What kind of response can we expect from Opel’s next Astra OPC, if any?


Citroen may send the GTbyCitroen concept into production, according to the UK auto rag Autocar.

The paper says Citroen has given the super car the go-ahead and may produce an ultra-limited run of about 20. It first appeared in public at the 2008 Paris Motor Show but no one really thought Citroen would even consider building it, what with these tough economic times and all. But the French are truly in a sporting mood. While the concept car looks wild and boastful, don't expect a production version to be this bold.

Recently it’s been reported that Citroen is reintroducing the DS Line of cars which will move it up the scale in terms of mass manufacturing. Consider the DS Line as a sort of upper-crust Citroen, a range of cars which can compete with the likes of Audi and Cadillac. Citroen is part of the PSA Group which is made up of that brand and Peugeot. Under this new strategy Citroen will take a few steps up while Peugeot takes care of the mass market at the bottom end.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


The new Volkswagen Polo breaks cover today at the Geneva Motor Show. This is not a facelift but a brand new Polo. Smaller engines are the order of the day for everyone, including the small Polo. Therefore VW has decided to include a 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine that produces 77kW (105PS) and its mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Also a new 1.6-litre TDI good for 66kW (90PS) will be sold.

The Polo is longer and wider than the current car which has resulted in more interior space for both passengers and loads.

I have no idea as yet which of the engines will make their way to South Africa when the Polo is launched here in 2010. But both engines cannot be ruled out. Enjoy the pics.

Monday, 2 March 2009


Opel could be out of business within a matter of weeks. Automotive News Europe says a source within the Opel structures has confirmed that unless the company receives a cash injection to the tune of €3.3 billion (about R43 billion) it will go under. These news follow hard on the heels of word that SAAB is facing the bankruptcy bullet.

Already Opel parent General Motors says it will cut 47 000 jobs worldwide this year, 26 000 of which will be outside the United States. Automotive analyst Ferdinand Dudenhöffer from the University of Duisburg in Germany says Opel should be cut loose from GM if it means to weather the storm.

“The best plan for GM and Opel would be to make a separate company and call it Opel SE,” he said. “The idea that a company that makes 1.6 million cars is not sustainable is nonsense."

Two weeks ago it was announced that GM would close its high-performance centres which produce cars like the Cadillac CTS-V. This is to allow it to concentrate on making cars that are good for the environment. At the time I lamented the possible loss of Opel Performance Centre where all the OPCs come from. Now it looks set to be a reality.


Does the i10 replace the Atos?

No. At least not yet. The Hyundai i10 essentially fits between the Atos and the Getz. Hyundai has adopted a new naming system for their vehicles and the i10 is the smallest of the range. Soon we’ll see a new i20 and i30 as well. At some point we may see the i10 completely replace the Atos range just like the Toyota Yaris has replaced the old Tazz.

It’s kind of cute.

I love its look. Very compact, although it is a five-door it is very small. Small doesn’t mean space-compromised though because the i10 can sit five adults and load some groceries and/ or a mid-sized bag in the boot.

Small cars tend to be fun to drive. Is this one fun?

The i10 is not very powerful I must say. As you can see in the stats the takeoff is spirited but doesn’t sparkle. I expected as such from a 1.2-litre engine in Gauteng so it was no surprise. But fun doesn’t necessarily equate to power. The i10 is a fabulous-handling little car that one feels like one can just chuck it around. The little gear lever provides excellent grip and can even be described as having sporting ambitions in its feel.

Not a sports car then.

And it wasn’t meant to be at all. The i10 is a little family fun car whose main aim in life is to provide safe modern transportation in a competent package that lots of people can afford. In that respect it delivers because it comes with ABS brakes, driver and passenger air bags. Other safety features include side impact side beams, crumple zones, immobiliser and keyless entry.

What are the standard features?

You get air conditioning, electric windows all-round, radio/CD/MP3 player, 14-inch alloy rims, power steering and fog lights. That’s quite a list for a small car, especially those fogs. For those slightly vain among us a vanity mirror is provided for the passenger side. Exterior side mirrors are only manually adjustable which means leaning over to the passenger’s side to adjust them. Additionally it comes with Hyundai’s ridiculous 5 year/ 150 000km manufacturer’s warranty. There is an optional service plan that kicks in at 15 000km intervals.

And the final verdict is?



HYUNDAI i10 GLS High Spec

ENGINE: 1.2-litre straight four

POWER: 55kW / 75hp at 6000rpm; 116Nm at 4000rpm

0 – 100KM/H: 15.8 seconds

GEARBOX: 5-speed manual

TOP SPEED: 160km/h

FUEL AVERAGE: 7.6 l/100km

CO2 e: 151 g/km

PRICE: R123 900

NATURAL RIVALS: Kia Picanto, Tata Indica 1.4, Proton Savvy 1.2, Toyota Yaris T1 3-door, Renault Clio 1.2 Va va voom.

*PRICE RIVALS: Peugeot 107 X Line, Kia Picanto EX, Hyundai Getz 1.4, Nissan Micra 1.4, Renault Twingo 1.2


*A price rival falls within R20 000 or so of the subject’s price on either side of its price spectrum for cars over R350 000, R10 000 for car of between R250 000 and R350 000 and R5 000 for cars below R250 000.