Friday, 13 March 2009


Porsche UK is pricing the cheapest Panamera at some £72,266. This price applies to the baseline Panamera S. In South Africa the S should cost around R1.3 million. Up the ladder is the Panamera 4S which has an all-wheel-drive system and retails at £77,269. I expect buyers to part with about R1.5 million for this model if it makes to Mzansi. It has a nice 4.8-litre V8 with 298kW and 500Nm of torque, so it will perform quite nicely.

The Panamera Turbo features a twin-turbo 4.8-litre V8 which gives it around 373kW and 700Nm of torque. In the UK it goes for £95,298 which translates to about R2.1 million in South Africa. Our calculations are not just based on the rand/ pound exchange rate but also on things like import duty, taxes and guesstimated profit margins for the local Porsche operation.

Porsche will launch the Panamera in the UK in September. Porsche Centre South Africa should follow suit round about then as well.


Hyundai Motor Company is getting ready to launch its very first hybrid car in June this year. The international release of the company’s hybrid does not confirm its South Africa release though. Nevertheless we don’t expect it to come this way anyway. Why Hyundai currently has a very successful luxury car called the Genesis which recently won the 2009 North American car of the year award. There are no plans to bring the Genesis down south.

Good news for Hyundai is that the company was one of only three that managed to grow in the tough North American market. It was the one that lost the least market share also.

“Hyundai is a forward-thinking company and will weather this storm’’ says Hyundai Automotive CEO Alan Ross.

A slew of “green” cars is planned for introduction this year at a developmental cost of about US$6 billion (almost R60 billion today).

Thursday, 12 March 2009


Audi’s A6 range has been refreshed for the year 2009. The Audi A6 plays in a segment that experienced a 37% drop in 2008. Cars like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF, BMW 5 Series and Volvo S80 are in the same segment. Actually the XF and the 5 Series were the only cars in that segment that showed growth. But Audi recognises that not playing in that field will hamper its plans of having 40 different models and becoming the biggest premium car maker by 2015.

The new A6 then is part of this grand plan. Not many A6s have been sold so far compared to the other Germans. Fact is the A6 has remained as anonymous as a whisper in a full soccer stadium. Yet the car is not a bad car at all, in fact one would consider it one of the class leaders in every respect. Perhaps sales have been stunted by Audi’s previous image of a small, non-entity with nothing to offer the market. These days the Audi brand is considered one of the best around the globe. Their products really do speak for themselves.

Changes made to the A6 include a new front bumper, new fog lamps, LED indicators on exterior mirrors, optional LED daytime running lights, new rear bumper with an aluminium strip and LED rear lights. It may be hard to distinguish from the previous car unless one owns or is very interested in the A6. The rear is probably the most distinguished area of change.

Inside alterations are more visible with a lot of aluminium being used for things like rotary switches and mirror adjustment switches. MMI is included as standard in all the cars which is excellent value for money. Other standard features are cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual air conditioning, an SD card reader for playing media (I had hoped for a USB port instead, I mean who loads music on SD cards?) and a new multi-function steering wheel.

All the engines on offer are either brand new or have been reworked to deliver more power and economy at the same time. There is a 2.0-litre TFSI which is the “baby” of the range at 125kW and 280Nm. It

replaces the naturally-aspirated 2.4-litre and is claimed to do

0 – 100km/h in 8.5 seconds and achieve a top speed of 224km/h. C02 emissions for the 2.0-litre TFSI are 179g/km. When driving this model I realised that yes it is a small motor but because it’s so bold and turbocharged, it responds very well to acceleration inputs. The Multitronic gearbox is best left in automatic mode where it knows the best times to change. The A6 has always been quite neutral in its handling and this updated version keeps the status quo; it’s neither hard nor too soft.

Another new engine to the lineup is the powerful 3.0-litre TFSI which despite the badge, is not turbocharged but supercharged. Audi engineers had initially wanted to insert two turbos in the engine bay but because of space issues they abandoned the idea in favour of a supercharger. The 3.0-litre TFSI produces 213kW and 420Nm of torque. The 0 – 100km/h time is claimed at 5.9 seconds and top speed pegged at 250km/h. It emits 219g/km in bad C02 gasses. We know the same engine powers upcoming S4 and S5 models to 245kW and 440Nm. The supercharger and Tiptronic gearbox combination makes the drive smooth throughout the rev range even though there is a bit of low-down lag. Quattro splits the torque quickly to areas where it’s needed the most so handling is always optimal.

After introducing the RS6 Audi felt the S6 would no longer serve a purpose in its lineup for the Mzansi market and they promptly removed it from the list. The new Audi A6 is offered with an Executive Package and a Sports Package.


2.0 TFSI

R372 500

2.7 TDI Multitronic

R462 500

2.8 FSI Multitronic

R467 500

3.0 TDI Tiptronic

R555 500

3.0 TFSI Tiptronic

R571 000

RS6 V10

R1 069 000


LEXUS SAYS: Lexus has expanded the IS range to include the IS250 Sport. The addition to the range creates some excitement of things to come within the IS model line-up.

Lexus’ sporting pedigree is being strongly established in a short space of time. Within the IS range, the eagerly anticipated IS-F has taken global markets by storm, while the LF-A concept car gives a glimpse of Lexus’ clear intentions at sporting performance.

The IS250 Sport is immediately recognisable from the rest of the range thanks to its visual enhancements, but core to the special car’s dynamic appeal will be the sports suspension package that lowers and stiffens the IS250’s set-up. The handling package is further enhanced by the standard fitment of 18-inch wheels shod with 225/40 tyres at the front and 255/40 tyres on the rear.

Fitting of the improved handling promise, the IS250 Sport features aerodynamic body enhancements that include revised front and rear bumpers with complementing side skirts and a rear boot lip spoiler. The interior is highlighted with special aluminium accents, including sportier pedal treatment and gear knob. The Sport model will utilise the 6-speed paddle shift automatic transmission to complement the overall package.

The IS250 Sport otherwise shares its appointments specification with the IS250 SE. That means that a host of equipment is available as standard that would otherwise add significant cost to the car on the more traditional options lists of German rivals.

Features such as satellite navigation with voice activation, Bluetooth, reverse camera with back-guide monitor, a 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, and keyless go are all part of the standard specification. Safety is among the best in class with eight airbags, including driver and passenger knee bags, and Lexus’ acclaimed Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management system, VDIM.

As with all Lexus vehicles, the IS250 Sport is covered by a three year/100 000km manufacturer’s warranty and four years/100 000km full maintenance plan.

Pricing (incl. VAT):

IS250 S MT R370 300

IS250 S AT R387 600

IS250 SE AT R457 700

IS250 SPORT R482 600

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


Head of driving skills company, Rob Handfield – Jones, has welcomed the Johannesburg Metro Police Department’s tough new stance on reckless driving, but said the department was being economical with the truth over the reasons why people drive so badly.

“Joburg Metro has said that from now-on, motorists who commit offences like skipping red lights, driving in the emergency lane and driving in the face of oncoming traffic would be immediately arrested,” said Handfield – Jones. “I can only agree that the chaos on our roads warrants such drastic action, and it’s pleasing that the JMPD has taken the bull by the horns,” he added.

JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minaar was quoted as saying the new course of action was taken because “...fines are not deterring motorists from bad behaviour on the roads...”

“That is a half-truth,” said Handfield – Jones. ”The reality is that that fewer than 2% of all notices issued are for offences considered as reckless driving, while almost 66% are for speeding,” he said. “The JMPD have been sitting behind their cameras making money while ignoring moving violations. Their enforcement policies have put profit before safety and sent the message that as long as you didn’t exceed the speed limit, you could do what you liked. So people did.”

Handfield – Jones said that research world-wide proved that policing of moving violations led to drastic drops in fatality rates. He cited the United Kingdom and the USA as two countries that focused on reducing driving errors that cause high-fatality-risk crash types. “The USA and the UK are, co-incidentally, the two safest countries in the world in which to drive. Many people in road safety in South Africa have been calling for this style of enforcement policy for years. It would make sense for other traffic departments around the country to follow the JPMD’s lead and hopefully cut the carnage on our roads,” he concluded.