Friday, 20 March 2009


PEUGEOT SAYS: Since their arrival in Florida at the end of last week, Peugeot and the drivers fo the team’s two 908 HDi FAPs have been busy preparing for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite suffering a couple of setbacks during testing earlier in the week, both cars took part in the afternoon’s qualifying session which saw five cars lap within half a second of each other as Peugeot claimed places on the third and fifth rows of the grid.

“Like Le Mans, Sebring is a real endurance race, so starting from pole position wasn’t a priority for us. Qualifying was essentially just a chance for us to prepare for the race and we only put in the number of laps we deemed necessary which means we have spared our tyres. We are pleased with our lap times and the main objective comes on Saturday, not before. That said, seeing how qualifying unfolded, with all the LMP1s bunched so close together, it promises to be a very close race. We have no intention of taking any risks. Our goal is to prepare for Le Mans,” stated Peugeot Sport Director Olivier Quesnel.

Sébastien Bourdais’ single qualifying lap saw him secure a satisfactory 1m 45.559s before returning to his pits. “There was no point in staying out any longer,” he explained. “The car is going well and I was able to push hard at once to set a time straight away. Franck Montagny will start with our car and he will benefit from tyres that have barely been scrubbed.”

The build-up to qualifying turned out to be quite eventful for the two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs. Sébastien Bourdais went off on Tuesday morning’s session and damaged his car’s front and rear body work. Then, just hours later, the team encountered a problem with the under body of the Nº 07 car. “This under body had been repaired by our subcontractor following a crash last year,” explained Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport’s Technical Director.

The repairs clearly weren’t carried out properly, though, and we had to find a solution here on site with our own composites specialist. We will keep a close eye on the situation during the race.’

Portugal’s Pedro Lamy (Nicolas Minassian/Christian Klien) will start in the Nº 07 car and Frenchman Franck Montagny (Stéphane Sarrazin/Sébastien Bourdais) will start with the Nº 08 sister car.

Qualifying – final positions:
1. Acura (66): 1m 45.278s
2. Audi (2): 1m 45.360s
3. Peugeot 07 (Christian Klien): 1m 45.462s
4. Audi (1): 1, 45.551s
5. Peugeot 08 (Sébastien Bourdais): 1m 45.559s
6. Aura (9): 1m 46.504s


BMW has released a video clip depicting the upcoming 5 Series GT. The “teaser” video is presented by Hans Jurgen Branz who is the project manager for the 5 Series GT. Unfortunately for most of us, he does his thing in German. But don’t stress because many details are already in the article below (previously published on 13 February 2009). Now you can just see in motion the car’s dimensions and looks. It’s still in concept stage however most of what you see on the video should make it into production. Click on the picture to see the video.

Welcome PAS! BMW’s Progressive Activity Sedan has now been officially unveiled as a concept car. The unveiling happened at an event in Munich, Germany and it previews the car BMW now calls the 5 Series GT. GT stands for Gran Turismo. The images you see are CGI (computer generated images).

The BMW PAS was first talked about by BMW two years ago and we thought they were going after MPVs with three rows of seats and sitting space for at least seven. We thought wrong. The car is based on the 5 Series platform but has a higher ride height. It’s not as high as an X5 though. Four doors are featured as per normal sedans but a fifth rear door is where the magic lies.

As you can see in some of the pictures, the rear door opens two ways, first opening up a smaller storage compartment without letting air into the car. It can also be opened conventionally so people can actually enter through it. The rear seats are said to be flexible to allow rear passengers pretty much the same kind of room that an airline would give its Business Class clients.

Our minds are already running amok imagining exactly what type of engines will power the 5 Series GT. We have a few ideas, like the 3.0-litre twin turbo petrol of 225kW or the 3.0-litre twin turbo diesel with 210kW and 580Nm. These two are obvious. Another obvious one is the 4.4-litre turbo V8. We also expect a brand new engine currently not used by any other vehicle in the BMW stable.

The BMW 5 Series GT will be shown at the Geneva International Motor Show during the first week of March.


So Mercedes-Benz has finally given up trying to hide its upcoming SLS supercar? These pictures you see here are official “spy” photos from Merc themselves showing their new Lamborghini slayer. Previously Merc was producing the SLR McLaren with the McLaren team of Woking but that partnership has now been dissolved. McLaren is also working on their own supercar codenamed the P11.

The SLS is the first ever car fully developed by the performance division of Mercedes, AMG. It features hi-tech aluminium construction which keeps the weight down to 1620kg (without the driver). This is about as light as a luxury German sedan. Weight distribution is 48/52 which is really good and is typical of a great sports car.

Planted under the bonnet is a naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8 engine. At its peak it produces 420kW (571hp) at 6800rpm and maximum torque of 650Nm at 4750rpm. Through its new 7-speed double-clutch gearbox the SLS is said to be able to accelerate from 0 – 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds. Top speed is 315km/h.

One of the car’s wonders are the “gullwing” doors which hark back to the original 300SL from 1954. The doors open like wings on the sides. The other thing is the 3-stage ESP system which allows for three settings of ESP ON, ESP SPORT and ESP OFF, the last one being for those who are confident enough to handle 570 horses with no traction on the wheels.

Speaking of wheels, these measure some 19-inches on the front side and 20-inches at the rear. Mercedes-Benz won’t say exactly when the SLS will go on sale and if there will be a right-hand-drive version. It doesn't matter anyway, guys like Lolly Jackson will just buy it left-hand-drive and import it through Botswana or Swaziland, which is legal.

But we can speculate with some surety that it will appear either as a concept or full production model at the New York Auto Show in April. Thereafter we will probably see it at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September and maybe at the Tokyo and LA Motor Shows after that.

Thursday, 19 March 2009


The US is not getting the Audi A1. That is according to Mr Peter Schwarzenbauer who runs Audi’s global sales and marketing division. Previously we reported the same thing about the small premium car but said it would be delayed by a generation. Perhaps we were a little optimistic.

Schwarzenbauer told Autonews that Americans don’t seem to be interested in paying top dollar for a small car, no matter how premium it is. He said the brand is still too new to be taken down market in a place where they are still building their reputation against market leader BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Audi South Africa has not said anything on the A1 yet but sales of the MINI should encourage them to at least have a serious look. The Audi brand in SA is doing very well as a desired motor brand in a traditional BMW/Mercdes-Benz market. Also, Audi’s plans of becoming the biggest maker of luxury cars by the year 2015 will best be served by cars like the A1.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


HONDA SAYS: Honda’s sleek, stylish and technologically advanced Accord 2.4 i-VTEC Executive sedan has won the coveted South African Car of the Year title for 2009. The innovative four-door received the accolade – one of the most coveted in the local motor industry – after an exhaustive nomination and evaluation process involving members of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.

The Accord was one two finalists from the Honda stable (the trend-setting Jazz hatchback was the other), and one of nine finalists. The award was announced by the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists at a glittering banquet attended by the who’s who of the motor industry, and followed an exhaustive nomination and evaluation process.

“The Accord’s victory in the SA Car of the Year contest is particularly sweet, given the highly competitive market conditions, and the widely held expectation that the title would be bestowed on a compact contender,” says Honda SA managing director, Yoshiaki Nakamura. “While buying trends are favouring smaller, more economical models, the Accord is a perfect example of how space, performance and luxury can be combined with frugality, efficiency and value to deliver a highly desirable and relevant motoring package.”

The Honda Accord’s victory is Honda’s second in the SA Car of the Year contest. The current Civic four-door sedan was honoured with the award in 2007.
The brand has also been represented as a COTY finalist several times. The go-anywhere CR-V sports utility vehicle was a 2008 finalist, while previous versions of both the Accord and the Jazz also achieved finalist status.

The Accord sedan range currently offers a choice of 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre petrol engines, as well as a recently announced i-DTEC turbodiesel option, while transmission choices include a six-speed manual, as well as five-speed and six-speed automatic gearboxes.

Pricing starts at R270 900, which includes a three-year/100 000 km warranty, and a five-year/90 000 km service plan.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


Check out this awesome video clip produced for Grip showing BMW’s upcoming “terrible twins”, the X5 M and X6 M during winter testing in Scandinavia. Last Monday we reported on findings that the two cars are to use a V8 petrol engine with two turbos in order to make about 405kW and 700Nm. I expect the cars to do 0 – 100km/h in about 5 seconds or less. Of course these figures are not officially verified by BMW and will only be so confirmed on the 4th April 2009.

You can see the two cars slipping and sliding on snow and ice during what is undoubtedly some seriously extensive performance testing. Data is then captured and analysed on sight and information sent back to Headquarters in Munich for further analysis.

Although first reveal is online on 4th April, a few motor shows will benefit from the cars’ presence, places like the Shanghai Auto Show and the New York International Auto Show.

When launched the X5 M and X6 M will represent the two most powerful mass-production SUVs the planet has ever seen. They will surpass the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG.

Click on the pictures to see the video.