Friday, 29 May 2009

BUGATTI BEGINS PRODUCTION ON €1.4 MILLION GRAND SPORT





Bugatti has begun producing the Veyron Grand Sport at its plant in Molsheim, France. The Grand Sport is the topless version of the hypercar with the same name. Those wishing to have their name placed on the list will have to come up with €1.4 million (about R15.7 million today). It will also help to own a Veyron already because the first 50 units to come off the production line are for these folks. The rest, all 100 of them, may already be spoken for.


The roof is completely removable which means it will not go where the car goes. Should it rain while the drive is under way a soft cover like an umbrella that’s stored in the storage compartment can be employed. This will allow the Grand Sport to travel up to 130km/h with that roof.


In any case it’s good to revise some of the numbers involved in this technical marvel on four wheels. The engine is an 8-litre 16-cylinder nuclear unit with four turbochargers. Maximum thrust is 747kW while torque is 1250Nm. Bugatti says the Veyron will accelerate from 0 – 100km/h in under 3 seconds (Autocar did 2.5 seconds in 2005) and the top end is 407km/h.


I’m told there is a Veyron in South Africa, somewhere down in the Cape area owned by a very rich guy who used to sell cigarettes...

Thursday, 28 May 2009

RENAULT TWINGO RS ZIPS INTO MZANSI









Renault South Africa launched the Twingo here in October 2008. Twingo is the smallest on the Renault lineup and features a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 56kW and 107Nm of torque. The French company didn’t mince its words in confirming that the more powerful Twingo RS would be made available this year and sure enough it’s here.


The RS is a small pocket rocket with much more verve than its normal sibling. A 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine is fitted into the car and Renault promises that it’s quite zippy. Maximum power is 98kW at 6750rpm while maximum torque of 160Nm comes in at 4400rpm.


Driving the front wheels is a 5-speed manual gearbox that Renault says will help take the car from 0 – 100km/h in 8.7 seconds. The top speed is 201km/h. Quoted average fuel consumption is 7 litres per 100km and C02 emissions are 165g/km.


Renault fitted plenty of kit to distinguish the RS from the normal Twingo. Included in that are 16-inch wheels, new bumpers, wide front and rear fenders, new sills as well as a new rear spoiler.


The interior has Renault Sport-detailed seats, orange seat belts, a leather sports steering wheel, aluminium sports pedals and an RS rev counter. More optional equipment can be bought by those looking for further individualisation of their Twingo RS.


The chassis and suspension system have been stiffened to help handling but still set for comfort. Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) provides a safety net if things should get out of hand.


Obviously the Twingo is not exactly an Espace or Scenic as far as space is concerned: two seats up front and two and the rear. Boot space is quite limited but then again the target market for this car is young and single. Space is not such a concern for them.


Standard pricing for the Renault Twingo RS is R195 000 which undercuts the similarly-powered Toyota Yaris TS. In addition Renault will throw in a free advanced driving course with the car through its new Renault Driver Academy. Finally a 3-year/45 000km service plan is thrown into the mix.

FORD FIESTA, MAZDA 3 AND MX-5 VIE FOR GLOBAL WOMEN'S AWARD




FORD SAYS: The first ever Women’s World Car of the Year competition will take place this year. A short list of 21 vehicles has been compiled from cars new to the market in at least ten countries, between September 2008 and September 2009.

Both the Ford Fiesta and the Mazda3, soon to be launched in SA, have been announced as finalists in the economy category while the Mazda MX-5 has been shortlisted in the sports car category.

“We are excited to have our cars nominated in the Women’s World Car of the Year competition,” says Jacques Brent, Vice President Sales & Marketing for FMCSA. “Increasingly we are seeing that women are the final decision makers when it comes to new vehicle purchases however women motoring journalists are still very much in the minority. With women’s priorities and needs being very different to those of their male counterparts these awards are probably long over due.”

Ten women motoring journalists from around the globe will be involved in selecting the inaugural winners, set to be announced later in the year.

The South African representative is Durban based, Heléne Griffiths, who has been involved with the motoring industry for the past 31 years. Heléne has been one of the evaluators for Associated Magazines’ Women on Wheels Car of the Year competition since it’s inception two years ago.

Other jury members hail from North America, India, the UK, Australia and Europe. All are established writers or broadcasters.

The women will select cars from the short list to decide on four separate category winners - Family Car of the Year, Sports Car of the Year, Luxury Car of the Year and the Best Economical Car. The supreme award winner will then be chosen and announced at the end of the year.

The adjudicators will look at driveability, examine whether a car is child-friendly, whether it is value for money and what the carbon footprint is like. The focus is firmly on all things women genuinely want to know about before they buy a car.

The international panels of women judges plan to assemble at the head office of the winning car company when the supreme award-winner receives the trophy in November this year.


WOMEN’S WORLD CAR OF THE YEAR SHORT LIST

FAMILY CAR:
Dodge Journey
VW Jetta
Volvo XC
Honda Accord
GM Cruze

ECONOMY:
Ford Fiesta
Mazda3

Toyota Prius
Honda Insight
Hyundai i30
VW Golf diesel

SPORTS CAR:
Audi TTS
BMW M3
Mazda MX-5
Porsche Boxster
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo

LUXURY CAR:
Aston Martin Vantage
Jaguar XF
Saab 9-3
Audi A6
Porsche Cayenne

VÄTH STAGES C 63 AMG V63RS CLUBSPORT WAGON








If you thought the C 63 AMG was a beast then you obviously ain’t seen what Väth has been up to. Last June the German tuner made a few changes to the C 63 AMG sedan. Now they’ve done it again with the Estate version of the same car.


Called the V63RS Clubsport Wagon, the black car with matching 20-inch wheels has had its power increased. Normally the C 63 AMG Estate, which runs a naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8, makes 332kW and 600Nm of torque.


Väth has proposed a proposed power increase of up to 430kW and maximum torque is now 690Nm. An LSD has been fitted in order to improve traction. Top speed has also been improved from the limited 250km/h to 325km/h.


Lots of carbon fiber components are installed, including a rear diffuser, parts of the dash and door inserts. A TV/ DVD unit an be bought at an extra price if the buyer is interested.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

UNCOMFIRMED: AUDI S4 TO COST OVER R600 000




Fans of the Audi brand who wish to purchase the new S4 could be in for the shock of their lives. Having spoken to a couple of dealers I now have it on good authority that the S4 will cost around R600 000 when it’s launched here in South Africa at the end of June. The S4 is based on the A4 but is more powerful, has a different interior and exterior kit and is the current performance A4 in the range.


Powered by the new 3.0-litre TFSI supercharged petrol engine, the S4 makes 245kW of maximum power and 440Nm of torque. Audi claims a 5.1 second 0 – 100km/h sprint time for the S4 sedan and 5.1 seconds for the Avant (wagon) version. Given our appalling record when it comes to buying wagons, we may or may not see the Avant in South Africa.


In Europe the S4 is priced at about €50 000 which is R575 500 today. Consider that in Germany a baseline BMW M3 sedan costs €55 400 (R638 000) and in South Africa the same car will set you back R662 500 and you might consider it a bargain. Until you realise the S4 does not compete with the M3 but it rivals the BMW 335i. That car is priced at R455 000.


Yes there is a power and torque difference of 20kW and 40Nm respectively between the S4 and the 335i, but is that worth over R145 000 odd? I can’t answer that before I drive the S4 but what I can say is that one, I hope Audi, in its pursuit for more record-breaking profits for 2009, does not end up outpricing itself out of this segment of the premium market. Two, I really hope the S4 does not have a basic price of over R600 000, that this is just bad information from normally-good sources.


After all, a R600 000 S4 means a R750 000 RS 4, which in turn means an R800 000 RS 5 Coupe and a R900 000 RS 5 Cabriolet…