Friday, 22 May 2009


The Ford Fiesta has upset the applecart by dethroning the usual sales suspects of the South African motor industry. During the first quarter of 2009 the little Fiesta outsold both the Volkswagen Polo and the Toyota Yaris in the dealer sales market. That means more private buyers drove off with Fiestas during this period than with any of its two main rivals.

Even more stunning is that during the month of March this year the car shifted 1 072 units which made that month the best for Fiesta since September 2005. Remember that year was the year just before South Africa experienced its best ever motor sales year.

As a result mostly bourne out of the Fiesta’s sales success, Ford South Africa has overtaken General Motors South Africa to become the third largest player in the market. Toyota is still the biggest followed by Volkswagen.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Nissan has taken the unusual step of announcing prices for its upcoming 370 Z Coupe before the car is launched. Both the 6-speed manual and automatic will be available for sale. The manual starts at R499 000 while the basic price for the automatic is R516 200. Nissan says the car will be launched in South Africa on the 10th of June so get your cheque books out.

Yesterday I took pictures of a red 370 Z while it was parked outside a Jozi restaurant. That example seems to be an early unit brought in for someone who’s obviously quite important as it already wore full GP number plates.

The 370 Z replaces the 350 Z Coupe which was launched in Mzansi in 2004. Lauded for its purist approach to the sports coupe genre the 350 Z was pretty much everything that any sports car lover would want; sleek, smooth, rough where it needed to be, quick off the block (0 – 100 in 6.75 seconds) and it handled amazingly well. It was also very well priced against the competition.

Overseas reports suggest the 370 Z is in similar vein. Obviously more powerful with its new 3.7–litre V6 that produces 244kW and 366Nm of torque, the new Z should delight.

One of the 370 Z’s new competitors is the BMW Z4 with the 3.0-litre twin turbo engine and 225kW. That car is being launched next week so I’ll let you know how they price it then.


SPORTECH SAYS: Seldom has a car been greeted so enthusiastically as the second-generation Volkswagen Scirocco and it is pretty much a given – despite the niche positioning of the sexy Golf-based coupe – that there will soon be plenty of them on South African roads.

Which, to some degree, contradicts one of the key reasons for buying such a distinctive machine: exclusivity. But help is at hand and the country’s leading optical tuner, Sportech, has introduced this striking bodykit for Scirocco, which is guaranteed to make it stand out even in the most hallowed automotive circles.

Made from strong yet flexible injection-moulded polyurethane, Sportech’s fully-imported Scirocco bodykit comprises grille and front spoiler, side vents (which tuck neatly up against the side sills), bold roof spoiler and a rear diffuser. Sportech can not only supply this high-quality kit, but thanks to their modern Johannesburg facility can fit and paint it to a standard which complements the car.

For approximately R30 000 a Scirocco owner can be back on the tarmac with a car altered in a way which not only suggests ‘original equipment’ fitment, but with a large dose of extra sex appeal thrown in along the way. Sportech is also able to offer wheel/tyre packages which will take it a step further up the street-cred barometer.


McLaren Automotive, a division of the McLaren Group, has confirmed that it’s working on a new supercar to take on cars like the Ferrari F430 and Porsche’s 911 GT range. According to CEO Ron Dennis a new facility in the UK will oversee complete production and employ about 800 people.

The supercar currently being codenamed the P11, has been spied undergoing testing over the past year or so. It will be launched in 2011. That’s not to say however, that the P11 will be McLaren’s only product. An entire range of sports cars will come out of that UK factory in the same way that Porsche rolls off its Boxster, Cayman and 911 models. The company has of course, also been a partner to Daimler AG in the design and manufacturing of the 2003 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

In 1993 McLaren presented its first supercar, the McLaren F1. It was a culmination of the brand’s founder Bruce McLaren, F1 Team owner Ron Dennis and South African designer Gordon Murray’s collective vision of a road-going McLaren car.

Under the bonnet roared a naturally aspirated 6.1-litre V12 engine supplied by BMW. McLaren had asked that the engine produce 410kW but this was exceeded to ultimately make 468kW. They say it was able to go from 0 – 100km/h in 3.3 seconds and that top speed was 386km/h. And this was back in 1993.

Only 64 McLaren F1s were ever made for the road at a price tag of around US$1.2 million each. Some of them are still owned by celebrities like musician Wyclef, talk show host Jay Leno, comedian Rowan “Mr Bean” Atkinson, Ron Dennis himself, fashion designer Ralph Lauren, musician Eric Clapton and racing driver Michael Schumacher.