Friday, 4 September 2009


HYUNDAI SAYS: Blue Drive, Hyundai Motor Co.'s eco-initiative, will move into high gear at the 2009 IAA in Frankfurt. The company has created a special Blue Drive Zone where it will exhibit a wide array of its new eco-friendly technologies and products demonstrating its commitment to lowering emissions and improving the fuel economy of its vehicles.

Centre stage is reserved for the world debut of the ix-Metro, a daring new Hybrid Electric CUV for the European sub-B segment which promises CO2 emissions of just 80g/km. The fifth in a series of concept cars to be created by the Global Design Team in Namyang Korea, the ix-Metro is powered by an inline three-cylinder petrol engine displacing just one-liter. Direct injection, dual CVVT and turbo charging are all combined with a six-speed dual clutch transmission to make for a highly potent compact package.

The other world debut Hyundai will be making at Frankfurt is the i10 Electric, a production-ready zero emissions vehicle which is set to go on sale in Korea in the second half of 2010. Powered by a 49kW motor and a 16kWh battery, the i10 Electric promises a driving range of 160km and top speed of 130km/h. It features x-by-wire systems for steering, air conditioning, water pump and brake vacuum pump.

Europeans will also get their first chance to see two other important Blue Drive vehicles, which made their world debut earlier this year at the Seoul Motor Show. The Frankfurt Blue Drive Zone will include the Elantra LPI Hybrid which emits just 94g/km of CO2 (European combined mode) and the Blue Will Plug-In Hybrid Electric concept vehicle. The Elantra LPI HEV is the world's first hybrid electric vehicle to be powered by liquid petroleum gas (or autogas) and the first production car to be powered by advanced lithium ion polymer batteries (LiPoly).

Hyundai is also using the occasion of the Frankfurt Show for the European unveiling of its ix35, the European version of the all-new Tucson which made its debut in the Korean market earlier this month. Designed in Europe and to be built in Europe, the ix35 is fitted with the all-new R 2.0 diesel and a six-speed automatic transmission.

Also on display will be the updated Santa Fe which will provide fresh momentum to the CUV sector. It is fitted with a 2.2 version of the all-new R diesel and comes with the option of the new six-speed automatic.

Thursday, 3 September 2009


India’s reigning Car of the Year has now been launched to a highly depressed South African market. At its peak in 2006 car sales were around 700 000 but this year we’ll be lucky to see 350 000 units. It’s within that spirit of value offering that Fiat SA has introduced the India-built spacious Linea.

Measuring 4.6 metres in length, 1.5m high and 1.73m wide the Linea is no small child. It has a wheelbase of 2.6m, which makes it quite a large family car. At the motoring media launch Fiat was at pains to compare the car with the Toyota Corolla, even going as far as showing the price differences between comparable models. Having driven it for over 150km I began wondering if it really was a Corolla rival and not something else. In my little head I kept seeing pictures of a Tata Indigo and a Renault Logan.

As a simple exercise in curiosity I took dimension figures for all three. It turns out the Frenchman is the longest of all and has a longer wheelbase while the Indigo is the highest. Our Linea only has its length to boast about within this particular trio. This puts the family Fiat in a slightly different area than what was initially said.

Our drive took place in the beautiful coastal city of Durban where the air is thick and so are some of the young men. One of them almost knocked us over with his loud music and even louder Japanese turbocharged car. Had our 1.4-litre also been turboed we’d have had him for breakfast. Alas, we could only muster 66kW at 6000rpm and maximum torque 115Nm at 4500rpm. To access it we’d be using a 5-speed manual ‘box which was quite adequate for the task at hand. That missing turbo could have come in handy over those steep uphills where changing down to even third would be common practice. Although it’s a front-wheel-drive there would not be any danger whatsoever of torque steer felt by the 15-inch wheels on takeoff.

I was lucky to be seated in the model with the leather option. It’s soft and comfortable, provides good back support and made the journey seamless. We also had Blue&Me. As a fan of the Microsoft/Fiat developed system I looked forward to integrating it with my Nokia cell phone. Normally cars in this segment don’t offer Bluetooth systems so it will be quite exciting for those who buy it. Better even is that it comes as standard equipment.

That’s one of the car’s main attractions; its standard equipment list. Besides the Blue&Me Bluetooth connection there’s also the radio/ CD/ MP3 player with 6 speakers, electric windows all around, adjustable headlamps, a trip computer, automatic climate control, two airbags, ABS brakes, fog lights and an immobiliser among others.

Herein lies the Linea’s strengths; a good value package with features usually associated with bigger, much more expensive cars. These days every motor manufacturer is desperately trying to attract buyers into its dealers’ showroom floors. By cramming the Linea with all these goodies plus more Fiat is counting on those looking for a good return on their hard-earned buck. Performance will not be high on these good folks’ list but they may well find the rest of the package, like the beautiful exterior lines, sculptured front grille and nicely put rear, quite irresistible.

Fiat Linea Pricing

Linea 1.4 Emotion (R175 000)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


MITSUBISHI SAYS: Following a tough week in Mozambique, the Spirit of Africa Trophy finals saw a close finish right to the end of the competition.

The fourteen finalist teams and the Spirit of Africa crew used the service roads in and around a plantation near Bilene, the beautiful coastal town three hours drive North of Maputo, Mozambique, for their activities. Headed up by South Africa’s motorsport icon Sarel van der Merwe, the finalists set their sights on the task at hand and braved the bruising Mozambique terrain where only the most competent got to call themselves undisputed winners.

With only decals needing replacing for the Bilene finals, the 2,5 D-iD 4x4 Mitsubishi Triton Doublecabs have, as they did in last year’s competition, proved their die-hard reliability and unrivalled performance yet again.

“Service and maintenance has been absolutely remarkable,” says Arrie Froelich, Product Specialist, Mitsubishi Motors. “Considering the severe terrain and extreme conditions that these vehicles have operated under during the past few months, their performance has been remarkable.”

“Continuous hammering on the suspensions by 313 teams pushing the vehicle to their limits is bound to necessitate some maintenance,” Froelich adds. “That said however, we are extremely pleased that all the Tritons performed well in the finals.”

“The standard of competition this year throughout the finals and semi-finals was extremely tough and all the competitor’s energy and adrenalin levels were at an all time high the entire week. The high level of 4x4 expertise at this year’s finale was phenomenal and I thank all the teams for giving their all,” said Sarel Van der Merwe.

“A slight lack of concentration or one minor error in judgement on any of the unforeseen obstacles meant the difference between the prize of R50 000 or a runner-up or third place prizes of R30 000 and R10 000 respectively,” adds Van der Merwe.

With the ingenious scoring and Sarel and his team’s superb event management, no stone was left unturned by any of the finalists to grab one of the top three positions.

The Spirit of Africa Trophy 2009 is without doubt the pinnacle of performance motoring proudly sponsored and endorsed by Mitsubishi Motors. From the Kosi Bay preliminaries, right through to the Beline finals, Team Mitsubishi has ploughed back into the local communities. “Not only have we rehabilitated the courses we used throughout the competition,” Van der Merwe points out, “but we interacted with the local communities, which was a beneficial experience for all the participants.”

Competition, comradely and most importantly spirit is the essence of an event bigger than the sum of its equal parts. As shown in years past, the Spirit of Africa Trophy and Mitsubishi Motors’ proud association with this unique event celebrates way more than champions – it applauds the very people who make the Mitsubishi Motors brand great and that, like the competition itself, is extraordinary.

The Spirit of Africa Trophy finalists were:

FIRST Koedoe van der Westhuizen & Cliff Oosthuizen (pictured with Sarel van der Merwe) from Upington and Warenton near Kimberley

SECOND Renier Boshoff & Renza Boshoff from Modimolle

THIRD Juan Grand and Conrad Herbst from Pretoria

MOST SPIRITED TEAM – sponsored by Campmor - Lopie Jonck & Toppie Myburgh from Pretoria


LEXUS SAYS: The world debut of the LF-Ch full hybrid premium compact concept spearheads Lexus’ presence at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show. It is joined by the world debut of the updated LS model range and revised versions of GS, IS and IS F.

The LF-Ch concept reinforces Lexus’ position as the only manufacturer to offer a range of full-hybrid vehicles. The concept car combines stylish design and full hybrid technology in a practical five-door compact package to perfectly fulfil the needs of the most demanding premium compact segment customers. Benefiting from an electric-only driving capability, a key feature of Lexus Hybrid Drive, LF-Ch will allow for virtually silent urban driving with zero emissions.

Also making its world debut at the show is the comprehensively revised LS model range, incorporating updates to the exterior and interior designs, a redesigned seating configuration, significantly updated equipment and enhanced driving dynamics.

The world’s only full hybrid vehicle in the premium luxury sedan segment, the Lexus LS600h will be instantly identified as the high performance flagship of the LS model range through bespoke exterior and interior styling cues, improved packaging, and numerous enhancements to the vehicle’s Lexus Hybrid Drive system.

Subtle changes for the 2010 GS model range includes enhanced safety features and new exterior and interior colours, while the GS450h’s status as the model range flagship has now been further reinforced through several bespoke styling cues. GS450h remains the world’s only full hybrid model in the premium mid-size segment. The 2010 GS range also benefits of upgraded audio and navigation systems.

A refreshed IS model range incorporates navigation and audio system upgrades, a new F Sport trim package and a revised IS-F ultra-high performance sports sedan now available with a Limited Slip Differential.

The IS250C, the new Lexus coupe/convertible combines the sporting elegance of the IS sedan with superlative engineering ingenuity to create a unique fusion of driving pleasure and refined comfort with the roof either up or down.