Thursday, 17 September 2009


In celebration of the MX-5’s 20th anniversary celebrations Mazda unveiled the MX-5 Superlight Concept at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Called the Miata in some markets the MX-5 is the world’s biggest selling roadster with over 800 000 worldwide sales since 1989.
The Superlight Concept is, as the name says, 995kg lighter than the normal MX-5. That’s incredible; it’s like removing the weight of ten grown men out of the car. Also there’s no windscreen so driving it would need some kind of headgear to deal with such nuisances as flies, bees, bugs, and of course wind.

Power comes from the 1.8-litre petrol that makes 93kW (126hp) and 167Nm of torque. Mazda says it would take about 8.9 seconds for it to go from 0 – 100km/h but the average fuel consumption is a respectable 6.3 l/100km.

Will they build it? I hope not.


FORD SAYS: Thousands of Ford Motor Company employees from around the globe joined arms in September for the fourth annual Ford Global Week of Caring. From 5 to 12 September 190 employees of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) worked an accumulated 1 016 hours helping different charities and projects in South Africa.
Volunteers from both the Silverton Plant in Pretoria and the Struandale Plant in Port Elizabeth ventured into their communities to renovate shelters, feed the hungry and offer their support.

This is the fourth annual instalment of this worldwide event, which is aimed at building Ford employee participation, involvement and support of the communities in which they live and work.

This year’s week long campaign started off with the sale of Casual Day stickers to the staff on Friday 4 September. A total of 200 stickers were sold with the proceeds from the sale going to the Medicos Special School based in Soshanguve, a school for children with mental disabilities.

While donations provided a much needed boost for the various charities it was the volunteer work undertaken by the Ford employees that really had an impact on the communities.

Maintenance work was carried out at the Eesterust Secondary School in Eesterust; the Le Amogetswe Safe Home in Atteridgeville and the L’Phumilanga AIDS Haven in Port Elizabeth.

The Le Amogetse Safe Home in Atteridgeville is a safe harbour for abandoned children. Ford volunteers fixed cupboards in the children’s bedroom and installed bathroom and shower doors they also painted the main entrance ensuring the children have a safe and well maintained environment to reside.

A team of 19 Ford volunteers from the Struandale Engine Plant visited the Laphum’ilanga AIDS Haven in Port Elizabeth. As the home to some 27 children abandoned or orphaned as a result of HIV and AIDS the facility provides an important social service and relies purely on donations for survival.

The Ford staff tackled an exhaustive makeover that saw them fixing broken windows, replacing ceiling boards, painting and mending damaged beds. While the renovations were taking place the children were relocated to the Engine Plant communications centre. There they were treated to fun and games, along with a delightful plate of eats and treats under the care of the Struandale Engine Plant Wellness Team – an effort that brought an incredible amount of joy and excitement to their otherwise strained existence.


Here’s a couple of photos of the red Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG being unveiled live at the 2009 Frankfurt International Motor Show. The one picture has Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who drives for the McLaren-Mercedes team, standing next to Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche. Lucky Lewis got himself a special edition McLaren F1 road car as a gift from former team principal Ron Dennis when he won the championship in
2008. I wonder if a similar offer has been made about the new SLS or if this is all just smoke and mirrors.

Just to catch up on what this car is, it’s a new supercar built from scratch by the AMG division. It has a 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V8 that produces 420kW and 650Nm of torque. The two doors are gullwing types which open outwards like the wings of a seagull, hence the name. Actually the original Mercedes-Benz SL 300 Gullwing of the 1950s was quite the looker and one of the most expensive classic cars today.


ASTON MARTIN SAYS: Aston Martin unveiled one of the most eagerly awaited cars of 2009 at the 63rd Frankfurt Motorshow. The elegant Rapide, functional yet luxurious, provides space for up to four adults combined with an engaging driving experience synonymous with all Aston Martins.

As the marque’s first production four-door sports car, Rapide encapsulates core values of Power, Beauty and Soul; four ‘swan wing’ doors provide access to cosseting sports seats both front and rear bestowing occupants with ample accommodation. A 301 litre luggage compartment affords generous space for belongings for all four passengers whether they be sports bags or indeed, sets of skis, creating an Aston Martin which can be enjoyed on any occasion, anytime, anywhere.

Rapide’s rear environment has been intelligently packaged to create a space where passengers feel a part of the driving experience with clear views to the front and sides. Comfort and support is supplied in the form of two hand trimmed individual seats and a personal face-level heating and air conditioning system. Aiding the practicalities of everyday use, the luggage compartment features a movable bulkhead to permit access from the rear cabin while the rear seats fold flat at the touch of a button to create a flat loading space increasing the luggage compartment from 301 litres to 750 litres.

At the heart of every Aston Martin lies an evocative engine providing effortless power and torque: Rapide features a hand-built 6.0-litre V12 engine producing 350kW with peak power being delivered at 6000 rpm and 600Nm peak torque at 5000 rpm. A specifically tuned six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic transmission features as standard, allowing the driver to change gear automatically or manually via the steering column-mounted magnesium paddles.

First shown in 2006 in concept form at the Detroit Auto Show, the Rapide project received an immediate green light from Aston Martin’s new shareholders in mid 2007 following the sale of the marque by the Ford Motor Company. In a little over two years, Aston Martin’s design and engineering team have delivered a new car from the ground up. Rapide has been developed from the ‘V/H Architecture’ platform which already forms the backbone to Aston Martin’s critically acclaimed line-up: the DBS, DB9 and Vantage range.


VW SAYS: At the same time as the unveiling of the Scirocco R at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) Volkswagen is revving it up with a new interactive racing game. You drive in the "Scirocco R 24 hour Challenge" through series of difficult corners and expansive landscape similar to the Nürburgring. The game is available to download for free for the iPhone and the iPod touch now from the Apple App store.
A perfectly animated race circuit that comes so close to the legendary Nordschleife makes the "Scirocco R 24 hour Challenge" pure racing game fun. Three different play modes - qualifying mode, 24 hour mode and multiplayer mode (via Bluetooth) - liven up the game. Extras like the genuine engine sound of the Scirocco R, different sound effects and the chance to customise your own Scirocco R with the right exterior finish provide long lasting gaming fun. The player can choose to control it by touch screen or by tilt sensor to provide the best possible intuitive driving fun.
The star of the racing game, the Scirocco R, is the most powerful production Scirocco ever built. It's convincing with a performance of 195kW and 350Nm torque. Many parts of the Scirocco R appear in the Scirocco motor sport design: large air inlets in the front bumper provide optimal cooling of the engine and the brakes. The rear section is dominated by the distinctly enlarged roof spoiler, a striking polished black diffuser as well as the chrome tail pipes.
The Scirocco R racing game marks the second time that Volkswagen has used this innovative form of marketing. In March at the premiere of the new Polo, the racing game "Volkswagen Polo challenge" was presented; with more than 1.4 million downloads in four weeks, it conquered the Apple App stores worldwide.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Volkswagen unveiled the most important Golf in its history when it showed the Golf R at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Goodbye GTI and R32 (what a disappointment), hello R. Unlike the old GTI R based on the Golf 4 that we got here in Mzansi, this is not just a badge on some body parts. It’s the most powerful Golf ever to come out of the Wolfsburg assembly line.

I say that not lightly, just check the figures. In fact this thing will outgun even the Audi S3 and the TT S! It has the same 2.0-litre TSI engine as those two cousins but instead of 195kW the Golf R makes 199kW at a high 6000rpm and 350Nm of torque between 2500rpm and 5000rpm. Two gearbox choices will be available to interested parties; a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG. Claimed 0 to 100km/h times are 5.7 seconds and 5.5 seconds respectively. Here’s something interesting for a VW; the car has 4Motion AWD which sends torque to all the wheels, but in certain extreme situations nearly 100% of the power goes to the rear wheels, essentially making the car a rear-wheel-drive at the point.

You’ll be able to tell the Golf R from lesser models like the GTI and TSIs by its side skirt extensions, its LED daytime running lights, Talladega type 18-inch alloys (19-inch available as options), a rear diffuser and those centred twin tailpipes.

The inside is quite blue with the R logo placed in certain areas, sports seats, aluminium door plates, a 3-spoke steering wheel with perforated leather for better grip and others.

When the Golf R makes its way to Mzansi in 2010 it will probably be priced at around R400 000 standard. That is if VW SA doesn’t outprice themselves like they did with the R32.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


MINI celebrated 50 years of life by unveiling this stunning Roadster Concept at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The two-seater convertible has a twin brother in the Coupe Concept and both are extremely likely to be built in the near future. In fact from the reaction these two have garnered I’d probably bet my 13th cheque* on that.

The engine is a 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbo that’s used by the MINI ­John Cooper Works and the Peugeot 308 CC. It makes 155kW and peak torque of 260Nm with a 20Nm overboost function. Given those figures the 0 – 100km/h sprint time should be in the low 6s.


Looking at the torque figure one would think I’m about to get into a discussion about trucks. Not at all. This is the Audi R8 e-Tron Concept car which was just unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. It’s obviously based on the R8 but it’s a whole lot different.

Firstly its power is all electric, meaning there’s no V8 or V10 petrol under the rear bonnet. Consequently that means there are no C02 emissions coming from exhaust smoke, and of course there are no exhaust pipes either.

Instead you have four electric motors planted on all four wheels to produce a total system output of 230kW which may not seem like a lot for a super car. Scratch a little beneath the surface and you realise the torque figure is a colossal 4500Nm! That’s like an 18-wheel truck! It takes a claimed 4.8 seconds for it to reach 100km/h from standstill and it has a top end of 200km/h. Not exactly super car performance I must say. But gee, that torque!

They say it has a range of 248km when fully-charged which basically means recharging everyday. That takes about 6 to 8 hours on a normal 220V household wall plug but if you have access to a 400V socket you can recharge in only 2.5 hours.

The e-Tron is made of space frame aluminium body construction, measures 4.2m in length and weighs about 1.6 tonnes. That’s quite heavy but considering the gadgetry like rear view cameras instead of side mirrors and the batteries, it is not too shabby.

Let’s hope they produce it to take on the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG eDrive and the production model of the BMW EfficientDynamics, as well as Tesla electric super cars.


The most exclusive Lamborghini has been shown at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Reventón Roadster is an extremely expensive and hence extremely rare car that will only be built in numbers of less than 20. Set price is €1.1 million (or US$1.6 million or R12 million excluding charges).

Its power comes from the usual 6.5-litre V12 engine with normal aspiration. In days when super cars are supercharged or turbocharged it’s interesting to note that the Italian black bull is sticking to natural aspiration. So it makes a hectic 493kW at 8000rpm and torque of 660Nm at 6000rpm. All power is sent to the four wheels and 0 – 100km/h whizzes past in 3.4 seconds. Very impressive indeed, for a hairdresser’s car…

Interior features include two transreflective and one transmissive LCDs that show speed and other information instead of the classic analogue format we are used to. They are shaped like those of a fighter jet which was the inspirational basis for the Reventón in the first place.

Carbon fibre has been used extensively because it’s strong and light. Most of the body is made of the material as well as high-strength steel. As you can see from the pictures it’s also found on the inside alongside aluminium, alcantara and leather.


Finally the Volvo C30 R-Design has been announced! The car will be available in Mzansi in 2010 under the T5 model only. Which is fine; who wants to pimp a 1.6-litre C30 and for what?

Anyway the R-Design model as you can see, is quite different visually from all other C30s in the range. It has a roof-mounted spoiler, an exclusive monotone body kit, 17-inch wheels with 18-inch optional and chrome-plated exhaust pipes.

Inside we see a lot of blue which is an R-Design trait. And then there are two-tone seats, aluminium bits like the pedals and gear lever, as well as special floor mats among others.

Thank goodness there is also a slight performance advantage over normal the C30 T5 in that the suspension has been stiffened up a bit and the steering was made sharper. If ever there were two concerns with the C30 then the R-Design model has just addressed them.

Volvo SA has not said anything about prices yet but I can’t wait to see it on Mzansi roads in a few months’ time.