Thursday, 16 July 2009


Fiat launched the Fiat 500C which is a soft-top cabriolet version of the small Italian car in the UK two weeks ago. The base price is £11,300 (R151 000) and it comes in several engines and plenty of customisation options.

As new as it is it has now gained a new fan in former supermodel Elle MacPherson who simply gushed when she was given a loan unit. Elle, who lives in Notting Hill, UK, already owns a 500 hatchback.

“I love the Fiat 500C, it has that sexy, cool, Italian thing going on!” said Elle. “I like the way the car drives - it is perfect for cities with its small turning circle and the easy way it manoeuvres through London.”

While she may just have enough space in the car for herself and her two sons, 46 year-old Elle will nevertheless have good fun driving the puny 3.55 metre-long 500 around town.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


It’s been the funkiest small car on the block since its local introduction late 2006, but automotive fashions change. That’s why Peugeot Motors South Africa has introduced an updated version of the 107, refreshing an already appealing and distinctive visage while adding value.

What hasn’t changed is the spunky character of a car which is still the ideal choice for the young family or the unattached individual who want a truly compact city car which is also capable of carrying four occupants in safety on the open road. It continues to provide a modern yet affordable solution to the motoring needs of buyers who are both fashion- and value-conscious, with the target market being between 18 and 28 years of age, with a slight leaning towards female buyers. Another grouping - namely more mature buyers wanting a user-friendly and efficient suburban runabout – has also been identified.

The market in which the 107 competes – the B1 segment – continues to grow and in Europe accounted for over 1.1 million units last year compared to 800 000 just four years ago. The 107 is a responsible and considerate performer and just 106 grams of the greenhouse gas is emitted per kilometre, while overall fuel consumption is an exceptionally low 4.5 litres per 100 km.

The three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol powerplant (a remarkably lightweight unit at just 67 kilograms) is unchanged at 50 kW and 93Nm and delivers sprightly performance thanks to four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing on the inlet camshaft. Gear ratios have been selected with the focus on providing instant acceleration in the stop/start conditions which are this car’s forte. And it now does so less intrusively thanks to improved sound deadening and re-tuned engine acoustics in the low and medium frequency ranges.

Like the headline numbers of the engine and the ratios of the five-speed box which send torque to the front wheels, all dimensions are unchanged: the 107 measures just 3.43 metres from bumper to bumper, the front overhang is just 65 cm and that at the back a tiny 44 cm. The wheelbase is a surprisingly generous 2.34 metres and with the intelligent packaging of the mechanical components, the cabin space exceeds expectations.

While it retains Peugeot’s characteristic youthful, feline face expressed in the large air intake and elongated almond-shaped headlamps, there’s now a more mature look and feel. A bold chrome bumper band now divides the reshaped intake aperture, which has a more sporty design thanks to the mesh grille insert. It repositions the number plate in the lower section, like other Peugeot range models, and features a redesign of the contours of an air intake now featuring a cross-link grille.

The silhouette is still characterised by a dynamic profile, with the size of the rear windows optimised to create an airy interior. The rear doors extend all the way to the C-pillars, to actually meet the high-mounted lights. The blacked-out B-pillars and the tinted windows visually lower the roofline.

The rear view is visually unchanged, with three-dimensional, bubble-shaped tail lights mounted high up and flanking the fifth door. The pert rump and miniscule rear overhang, with a high density black plastic protective strip incorporated into a colour-coded bumper, remains unchanged.

Loading and unloading is now easier though thanks to the opening height of the all-glass tailgate being increased.

Interior changes are minimal but owners of the previous generation version will notice the improved markings for the ventilation and air conditioning: temperature and air direction settings are now easier to read at a glance.

All 107 will have a list of safety and security features with dual airbags, electrically-assisted power steering, electric front windows, anti-lock brakes with EBD, rear wiper, a full-sized spare wheel, tuner/CD with Aux input, and air conditioner.

The updated 107 is priced at R124 900 - a figure which will put buyers behind the steering wheel of a car which boasts a modern design, high levels of active and passive safety, all the features a motorist really needs, and a surprising amount of space for four occupants.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


The upcoming Porsche Panamera has begun proving itself to be more than just a 911 with extra doors. According Sport Auto the range-topping Panamera Turbo with 373kW (507hp) and maximum torque of 700Nm has lapped the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife in a time of 7 minutes 56 seconds. Walter Röhrl was driving, as per usual Porsche insistence.

That is quicker than the record time posted by Cadillac CTS-V. GM’s super sedan makes 415kW (564hp) and 747Nm from its 6.2-litre supercharged V8. So now, if confirmed, the Panamera Turbo is now the fastest sedan around the ‘Ring.

Nissan says its GT-R is currently the fastest “mass” production car around the famed track with a time of 7:26.7 minutes. It was controversially driven to the hilt by one Toshio Suzuki but months later Porsche told the world that it had acquired a GT-R, put it on the 20.8km track and achieved a best time of 7:54. The 911 Turbo was also driven to a time of 7:38 while the GT2 got 7:34.

Porsche will launch the Panamera in South Africa this coming September.


At the launch of the new Peugeot 308 CC, Peugeot South Africa confirmed that it would indeed import the highly anticipated RCZ coupe into the country next year. This I took as being excellent news for two reasons.

One is that I truly enjoyed the driving experience behind the wheel of the 308 CC and if the RCZ is anything like that car then the fun will be expanded exponentially. The second reason is that the three Germans (Z4, TT and SLK) have pretty much had it their own way in this segment for far too long and a little French rival would not hurt one bit.

Take a look at these teaser images and see if you like the RCZ. It’s based on the 308 RC-Z concept which was first revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2007. That makes the RCZ one of the fastest, if not the fastest, concept-to-production Peugeots ever. Also, it’s the first Pug not to use zeros in its name like 107 or 308 etc.

In these tough times bringing such a car to market anywhere is quite a gamble. But I reckon the main issue here will be price. Get that right Peugeot and you will have a winner in your hands.


ABT Sportline is a tuner that works closely with Volkswagen and Audi products. Therefore it’s no surprise that they have taken the standard VW Golf GTI and turned it into a mini-hurricane on four wheels. Two power upgrades are available for those who don’t think much of the standard car’s 155kW (211hp).

Two tuning kits can be had, one that gives 191kW (260hp) and another worth more. What’s more? Well more is 221kW (300hp) which is in the ballpark of other famous names like the Ford Focus RS, the Subaru Impreza STI and the BMW 135i. I can’t imagine how this thing pulls off with its front wheels; it must torque steer like puppy chasing a car around a slippery corner.

ABT installed nice bits like 18-inch wheels with 19-inchers also on the menu for those who like their grip wider. But check out the body kit which consists of things like an ABT front grille and front lip, LED daytime running lights, side skirts and a rear spoiler. Lots of work was done to ensure a sporty interior too so customers will be feeling home there as well.

I really like the overall look, bar just the red details on the wheels. It's a bit over the top for my tastes, but perhaps someone else likes them this way.