Thursday, 15 October 2009


RENAULT SAYS: The Renault Sandero 1.6 Expression Pack has made a clean sweep in the “B” segment category in Kinsey’s 2009 Report on parts pricing.

Now in its 19th year with the results released each October, the Kinsey Report is regarded by the majority of the local car industry to be the definitive vehicle parts pricing study. The 2009 survey is reported to be the largest report of its kind ever to be published in South Africa and conclusively reveals that Renault is delivering on its promise of service, quality and affordable cost of ownership says Tim Marriott, Vice President of Quality and Service at Renault South Africa.

The Sandero 1.6 Expression Pack’s convincing performance in the “B” Segment category - cars priced between R110 000 and R160 000 - firmly positions it as a leading player in Renault’s stable. The first locally-produced Renault in over three decades, Sandero is built at Alliance partner Nissan South Africa’s Rosslyn plant.

According to report author Malcolm Kinsey, his independent annual survey has evolved into a more relevant study for the South African motoring public. “There have been some changes since last year and with 34 items now on the list, the breakdown for 2009 is 8 service parts, 9 repair parts and 17 crash parts.”

The five-strong Sandero model line-up was launched in March this year with the French marque stating that parts pricing and retail selling price would be competitive from the outset. “Our objective was that as we screened and approved more South African suppliers, an increasing number of consumable and mechanical parts would be then sourced locally.

“Fair and affordable cost of ownership is fundamental to customer satisfaction and we will endeavour to ensure that Renault’s parts pricing strategy remains as transparent as our vehicles’ selling prices,” concludes Marriott.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Fast mamas everywhere will be pleased to learn that Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the E 63 AMG Estate in the European markets. Due to a lack of sales support (we don’t appear to have such a strong relationship with wagons as Europeans and Americans here) there’s no clarity on whether this car will be sold in South Africa or not – we don’t even have the new E 63 AMG sedan yet. I’d wager on the negative.

The car is nonetheless powered by a 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine worth 386kW (525hp) and 630Nm of torque. That’s one potent wagon on the road. Putting power on to the road is a 7-speed automatic gearbox that helps it achieve a claimed 0 - 100km/h time of 4.6 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250km/h. As fast as it is the car can swallow up to 1950 litres of luggage.

Helping it stand out from the rest is an AMG body kit with a wider track, 6.3 AMG letters on the sides, LED daytime running lights, a front apron with large cooling air intakes, rear LED lights and four chrome-plated tailpipes. Standard wheels are 18-inch types while 19-inchers are available as options.

Interior comfort creatures include an AMG instrument cluster, a sports steering wheel with aluminium paddles behind it and leather upholstery. Options include nappa leather/Alcantara upholstery, carbon fibre trim and a surround sound system.

German pricing will start at €108 409 (R1.18 million) for one of these when it launches in February 2010.

Monday, 12 October 2009


The world’s largest Audi Centre (dealership) opens its doors to the public in a few weeks time. West London Audi covers an area of 190 000 square-ft and was the host of the German brand’s newest uncover. Audi UK used the place to showcase the new R8 V10 Spyder (cabriolet) to 300 guests.

We’ve seen the car being unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. It’s basically the same as the one we drove in Kayalami but has one major difference; the canvass rooftop. Passengers can operate the roof electronically using a button and it folds within 19 seconds into the rear just over the engine bay.

The engine is a 5.2-litre V10 worth 386kW (518bhp) and torque of 530Nm. Audi says it will go from 0 – 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and reach a top end of 312km/h.

UK prices will start at £109,580 OTR (R1.27 million) for the 6-speed manual and £114,670 OTR (R1.3 million) for the R tronic automatic. Orders can be placed at West London Audi while first deliveries only take place in early 2010.

Audi South Africa is still studying the possibility of bringing the R8 V10 Spyder here but pricing remains a major issue. With the strengthening of the Rand against the three major currencies I think there’s a strong case for it.


How practical is the UTE?
Not very I’m afraid. If you have serious farming ambitions and you want a true bakkie (pickup) for the job then this ain’t for you. The most it will take are a few cases of beer for the park braai or your queen size bed, but that’s about it. You might know that performance cars perform best when sitting close to the tarmac. As such the Ute sits low thus defeating the purpose of what a pickup should be. Also stay away from pavements.

What’s the point then?
Possibly to enjoy limited utility in combination with limitless fun and joy.

I was getting to that part.
I’m ahead of you. As a pickup it sucks but as a performance car it excels quite naturally. Just look at the performance figures on the stats list and you’ll notice how dangerously close it gets to being labelled a sports car. We could have gone quicker too had it been a manual in our hands. Traction is also negotiable depending on circumstances. In extreme situations like takeoff a masterful set of hands is needed to keep things straight; this is a dancer of note thanks to its rear-wheel-drive/ light rear end and high torque combination.

The fuel bill must be high.
Not unexpectedly so, but yes, you’ll need a petrol card in the wallet at all times. Although, with careful tiptoeing around the accelerator and more open freeway driving the figures would come down slightly. Then you’d have to be outside of construction-constricted Gauteng.

I can’t say I like the cabin too much.
It’s quite suited actually. Adjustable leather seats, air con, trip computer, leather-covered steering wheel with audio and cruise control settings, and other niceties make for repeatedly comfortable rides. The Bluetooth connectivity function takes a while to connect though and requires a page-through of the owner’s manual for the code. Post-pairing it works fine with most cell phones. Some plastic finishings could be of higher quality but that would come with a financial penalty I suspect. Having said that, nothing broke or came loose during our test.

Worth having?
Think of the Chevrolet Ute SS as a two-seat sports coupe that can help you move house. No other can claim that.

ENGINE: 6.0-litre naturally aspirated V8
POWER: 270kW (367hp) at 5700rpm
TORQUE: 530Nm at 4400rpm
0 – 100KM/H: 6.6 seconds
GEARBOX: 6-speed automatic
TOP SPEED: 240km/h
FUEL AVERAGE: 13.4 l/100km
CO2 e: 336 g/km
WHEELS AND TYRES: 18” x 8” alloy wheels, P245/45R18 Tyres


*PRICE RIVALS: Toyota Fortuner 4.0 Epic Limited Edition Auto, Chevrolet Captiva 2.0D LTZ, Land Rover Freelander 2.2 TD4 S 4x4 Auto, Dodge Journey 2.0 CRD Auto, BMW 320i Coupe Auto, Audi S3 hatch, Volvo S80 2.5 T Geartronic, Audi TT Coupe 2.0 TFSI S-Tronic, Chrysler Grand Voyager LX 2.8 CRD Auto, Volkswagen Passat 3.2 V6 Sportline DSG 4Motion, Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI Sport&Style 4-Motion Tiptronic

STANDARD FEATURES: Leather seats, Bluetooth connection, 6-CD changer, cruise control, ESP, dual zone air conditioning


*A price rival falls within R20 000 or so of the subject’s price on either side of its price spectrum for cars over R350 000, R10 000 for cars of between R250 000 and R350 000 and R5 000 for cars below R250 000.


ROSSLYN, PRETORIA (09 October 2009) – Nissan South Africa (Nissan SA) is to withdraw from national championship off road racing.  Speaking ahead of the withdrawal, to take effect from 31 December 2009, Nissan SA Director Sales, Marketing and Aftersales, Johan Kleynhans said that Nissan SA was bowing out at the end of a highly successful run.

“Nissan recently notched up its ninth successive national off road championship and we are incredibly proud of the achievements of everyone involved – drivers, engineers and technicians – in reaching this milestone,” said Kleynhans, who also acknowledged the efforts of motor sport guru and award-winner Glyn Hall, who has been instrumental in Nissan Motorsport’s success over the years. 

Nissan has an illustrious history in South African motor sport dating back to 1961 and has enjoyed success in rallying, circuit racing and off road racing.  Since 1996 Nissan has won 15 national championships in 14 years.  This remarkable run of success started with the 1996 Gp N production car title and was followed by four consecutive touring car championships from 1997 to 2000.  Then followed successive off road championships from 2000 to 2009 as well as the national production car championship in 2006.

“We feel a sense of accomplishment at what we have achieved as a team,” said Hall, ascribing their success to a combination of exceptional driving skills, technical expertise, passion for the sport and support from Nissan.

Kleynhans said that Nissan Motorsport had done much to put South African motor sport on the global map, especially with successful forays in the prestigious Dakar Rally. “We count ourselves as being the pioneers of off road racing in this country, a legacy we are proud of.”


NISSAN SAYS: Nissan SA is introducing a new limited-edition Qashqai n-tec to the range. This exclusive model features the flawless combination of practicality, style, and superb value which the model line is already known for, but with the styling turned right up a few notches thanks to the addition of carefully-chosen aesthetic enhancements. Exclusivity is ensured as Nissan SA is bringing just 200 n-tec units into the market.

First and most obvious of the updates are the 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels that hunker down purposefully. This new, more aggressive look is complemented on the special edition by the fitment of privacy rear glass which serves to make the already athletic shape even classier.

The exterior of the n-tec model is topped-off by chrome-finished roof rails as well as door handles and grille. These revisions add a healthy dose of understated power to the range, already brimming with practicality and panache.

The Nissan Qashqai has always offered SA customers a unique blend of street-smart presence and clearly sporty undertones without sacrificing on interior space and comfort levels or ride and handling characteristics. In all of its guises it exudes personality and presence, its styling clearly signifying that the Qashqai and its owners take their own roads and not the well-worn paths the crowds traverse, while standing proudly out in sheer overt stylishness.

In addition to the new look, the Qashqai n-tec is also offered with an exclusive accessories package. For R17 500 over the list-price, customers can opt to add an advanced infotainment system featuring the latest in satellite navigation, fully-integrated Bluetooth functionality and an auxiliary input for your iPod or compatible MP3 player. The package also includes leather upholstery for the ultimate in plush urban adventuring.

The Qashqai range has been awarded a 5-star Euro-NCAP safety rating, and now features ISOFIX child-seat anchoring points as standard-fit in addition to a full complement of the Nissan’s advanced airbags (driver, passenger and curtain) system. Active safety aids include disc brakes front and rear featuring ABS (Anti-lock brakes), EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and Brake Assist, as well as a full VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) stability management system on the 2.0-litre petrol and diesel models.  

These 200 Qashqai n-tec add an even more appealing model to the Qashqai range, with the Qashqai n-tec slotting in at the top of the petrol-powered lineup.

Qashqai n-tec Pricing
Qashqai n-tec (R289 500)


ASTON MARTIN SAYS: Despite not yet being launched at the time the survey was conducted, readers recognised the Rapide as a special example of automotive design, and it won the ‘Premium Class’ with over 37.2 percent of the vote ahead of the Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera. For good measure, they voted the DBS Volante into a clear first place in the ‘Convertibles’ category.

“We are very pleased to have had both these models so successfully received by the readers of Auto Motor und Sport. The fact that the Rapide was voted one of the best design innovations in 2009 even prior to its launch demonstrates that Aston Martin sets standards in automotive design,” says Dr. Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin Chief Executive.

The DBS Volante received more than 49.2% of the readers’ vote in the ‘Convertibles’ category, with the Audi A5 convertible coming second and the BMW Z4 in third place. The Aston Martin One-77 was also recognised with a third place award in the ‘Sports Car’ category.