Friday, 23 October 2009


PEUGEOT SAYS: Due to reach South African shores early next year, the 3008 has been awarded the Auto Europa 2010 award in Florence.

The brainchild of the Uiga (“Unione Italiana dei Giornalisti dell’Automobile” - an association of more than 200 automotive journalists), the award is presented annually to one new model launched on to the Italian market between 1st September of the previous year and 31 August of the current year.

The 3008 emerged as the winner out of the 19 candidates in competition for the 2010 title.

Strong points acclaimed by the jury include the originality of the 3008 concept, the high level of technology, style and aerodynamics, the quality of vehicle, performance in terms of fuel consumption/emissions, safety, equipment, modularity and value for money. 

This is the first time the Auto Europa award has been presented to a crossover vehicle. According to the president of the Uiga, it represents, “recognition of a model that expresses change both in terms of its style and the new expectations it caters for”.

The commercial success of the Peugeot 3008, produced in Sochaux (France), confirms the interest and excitement that it generated before it was launched internationally in April this year. By mid-October, even before going on sale on the UK market (end of October), more than 40,000 orders had been placed in continental Europe, for a full-year target in terms of total sales of 90,000 units.

It is the second time that Peugeot has received the Auto Europa title, with 207 winning the award in 2007.

Thursday, 22 October 2009


VOLVO SAYS: Hot on the heels of its award-winning City Safety system, Volvo Cars has already unveiled the next phase in it's commitment to building vehicles that don't crash – the innovative new system with Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Safety.

Each new safety development from Volvo is another move closer to the company's goal of a future without traffic accidents. 'Vision 2020', Volvo Cars short-term target, is that no one will be killed or injured in a new Volvo car by 2020. It's a daunting task, but with developments such as the new Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Volvo is confident that this goal will be met.

Volvo Cars will be unveiling its next generation of preventive safety technology, Pedestrian Safety, in conjunction with the new Volvo S60 in 2010.

Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Safety represent the next stage in Volvo Cars' continuous development of technology that detects risky situations and help drivers avoid accidents.

Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Safety builds on the City Safety system, made famous in the spectacular Volvo XC60, and takes it one step further. City Safety is designed to entirely avoid or minimise rear-end collisions through sensors that detect when the vehicle is getting too close to the one in front of it. The biggest challenge with the Pedestrian Safety system was to refine the sensors to recognise humans – adults and children – in addition to vehicles.

Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Safety consists of a new dual-mode radar unit integrated into the car's grille, a camera behind the inside rear-view mirror and a central control unit. The radar and camera continuously monitor the road in front of the car. The radar's task is to detect objects and measure the distance to them. The camera's function is to determine what type of objects they are.

As before, the system is programmed to respond to cars in front that are at a standstill or moving in the same direction. Thanks to the state-of-the-art radar, which has a far wider field of vision than before, pedestrians about to step into the roadway can be detected early. What is more, the camera has better resolution than in the previous generation, allowing the system to monitor pedestrians' movement patterns.


Fiat South Africa has added the Strada Life to its lineup of small pickups. The Life fits in between the Working and the X-Space Adventure.

Some exterior features installed in the Life include new wheel caps and the new Fiat badge. A 1.4-litre 8V petrol engine making 60kW at 5500rpm and 120Nm at 2250rpm runs things. It’s helped along by a 5-speed manual gearbox which sends power to the 14-inch tyres.

Fiat says the Life can carry a 715kg load, like other Stradas in the range.

“Offering a few extra luxury touches and aesthetic enhancements,” Oscar Rivoli, Managing Director of Fiat Group Automobiles says. “The new Life is a worthy addition to the revitalised Strada range and ensures that there’s a Strada for everyone.”

Comfort creatures include air conditioning, electric windows, CD sound system and electric windows.

Fiat Strada Life Pricing
Strada Life 1.4 (R129 500)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


While the road oft-travelled will dictate that I compare the brand new Tata Indica Vista with other cars in the market, I’m quite tempted to take the road less travelled. That means looking at the previous range and the new car. A vast improvement exists with the car now not only looking better but also feeling and driving it too.

Whereas the previous car felt almost unstable at high speeds this one is quite sturdy, even at 160km/h. Yes, it can reach such speeds. The new engine fitted is a 1.4-litre 4-cylinder petrol making 55kW at 6000rpm and peak torque is 114Nm at 3250rpm. Three models are being sold; an INI, an AURA and an IGNIS. Don’t ask me where these names come from but there they are. These power figures apply to the former two but the IGNIS has a different band. It still has the 1.4-litre but makes 65kW at 6000rpm and 116Nm at 4750rpm. A 1.3 turbo diesel will join the lineup in the first quarter of 2010.

Running the front wheels is a 5-speed manual gearbox with accurate shifts. I liked the feel of it, wouldn’t call it cheap but it certainly is inexpensive. Same goes for the two-tone interior which comes standard with things like a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, front power windows (AURA and IGNIS) and air condition. The IGNIS also adds a CD player with USB and Bluetooth connection. I didn’t like the centrally-located speedo and information centre as it tends to keep the driver’s eye away from the front.

Tata fitted a 44 litre fuel tank in the car which helps it weigh in at 1030kg minimum. It measures 3.8m long, 1.7m wide, 1.6m high and has a wheelbase of 2.5m. Running gear includes a fully independent front suspension with McPherson struts and coil springs, while the rear features a semi-independent system with a Twist Beam, coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers.

Safety is taken care of via the collapsible steering, crumple zones and central locking. The IGNIS has airbags and ABS with EBD too. All three models are equipped with 5J x 14 steel wheels with 175/65 R 14 tyres. A full-size spare wheel is standard across the range. Tata will continue to offer the old Indica but the range is to be “rationalised”.

All models come with a standard 3 Years / 100 000km manufacturer’s warranty, 3 Year / 75 000km Service Plan as well as roadside assistance for 2 Years / Unlimited km included in the price.

As stated at the beginning the Indica Vista shows tangible improvements in every area, from design to interior to powertrain. But at these prices it does not effectively compete with the leaders.

TATA Indica Vista Pricing
Tata Indica Vista INI (R119 900)
Tata Indica Vista AURA (R127 900)
Tata Indica Vista IGNIS (R139 000)


VWSA SAYS: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has added a versatile derivative to its best selling half ton panel van, Caddy.

The top of the range, Caddy Maxi Crew Bus, offers tremendous amount of space for the luggage and flexible passenger compartment which can accommodate up to five adults.

Johan Cloete, the General Manager for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “With the Caddy Maxi Crew Bus, we want to capture the untapped market by being the first manufacturer in the small panel van segment to offer a versatile, unique vehicle that is both a people mover and a delivery van.”

The load compartment which measures 995cm in length when the vehicle is fully occupied can be extended easily and flexibly to 1.82 meters when the second row seats are double folded. The load compartment floor is covered with non-slip Dilour rubber mat to protect it from sharp and damp tools and equipment.

All in all, the Caddy Maxi Crew Bus has a maximum load compartment volume of 3 950 liters and payload of 672kg. Added to this, is the number of stowage compartments for small items – pockets on the front doors, space on the headlining above driver and front passenger seats as well as footwell of the second row seats.

A 70 cm wide, roof high sliding door with a large sliding window provides easy access to the car. An additional sliding door on the driver’s side is standard. An optional rear wing door is available to make loading and unloading easy.

The Caddy Maxi Crew Bus safety features include driver and front passenger airbags, 3-point seatbelts in the front and rear, child lock on the sliding doors, ABS, Traction Control System (TCS) and anchorage for Isofix child seat system on the 3-seater bench seat.

The Caddy Maxi Crew Bus is powered by the 1.9 TDI engine which delivers 77kW at 4000rpm. It has a torque of 250Nm at 1900rpm. With 5-speed manual transmission, the Caddy Maxi Crew Bus has frugal fuel consumption of 6.2 liters per 100km.

The Caddy Maxi Crew Bus comes with standard 2-years/ unlimited warranty and the service interval is 15 000km.

The retail price is R215 100 (VAT included).


Lexus has unveiled the brand spanking new LFA supercar at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. If you’ve never associated Lexus with a supercar now is the time to start. Having heard the engine rev on a spy video I can tell you that it sounds almost like a Formula One car. Toyota CEO and great grandson of company founder Akio Toyoda is a great racing fan. One of his aims is to put his company on the map as far as performance cars are concerned, and the LFA is the first step towards that. Next will be the two-door coupe which is being co-developed with Subaru.

Now back to the excitement at hand. The LFA has spurned the current trend of using small, turbo engines and instead takes a naturally aspirated 4.8-litre V10 into its bosom. The aluminium/ magnesium/ titanium block makes a hectic 412kW (560hp) at a harrowing 8700rpm and 480Nm of torque at 6800rpm. A true screamer indeed! It all goes to the rear wheels via a 6-speed sequential gearbox. As a result Lexus claims a 0 – 100km/h time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 325km/h.

Running wheels are 20-inch size and things like a rear diffuser, a flexible rear wing and a flat underbody should ensure great handling on any track. Lexus is planning a more hardcore track-focused version for 2011.

I doubt we’ll see this car here in South Africa because firstly it is very limited at 500 units worldwide. Secondly Lexus SA hasn’t even brought us the smaller IS-F (based on the IS V8) so this is very much out of reach. Thirdly have a look at the suggested price and tell me how many people will pay that for a Lexus. No offence but they don’t exactly have a racing/sporty reputation in this country. That is their own doing in any case; I asked the previous President of Lexus SA why he was pitching the current IS range at grannies and he said he didn’t want the brand to have a boy racer/ bling image like in the US. There you go.

Suggested Lexus LFA pricing (2010)
US$375 000 (€250 720 / R2.7 million)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


FORD SAYS: Gary Formato is the 2009 Bridgestone Production Car Class T champion in his Ford Focus ST, the first track championship for Ford since Sarel van der Merwe in 1993. After a successful one-two finish in Cape Town at the penultimate round, Team Ford Racing and Formato had a slim one point cushion going into the final round at Kayalami on the weekend, which with a bit of motorsport luck, turned into a championship title.

It wasn’t without challenge, however, as the Highveld weather laid on intermittent showers throughout the day. Arch rival Graeme Nathan was in determined mood to steal the title away from Formato, the two having all to play for as one of many championships that were decided in dramatic fashion on the day.

“It has been a momentous title fight this year,” explained Formato. “We were one point adrift going to Cape Town, and one point ahead when we went to Kayalami this weekend. We knew we had no room for error, and fortunately we stayed out of trouble to win the title.”

The balance of power tipped in favour of Nathan after a dry Race One when the powerful GTi took the top step of the podium. But Nathan got tangled at the start of the wet second heat putting him out of the running on lap one. Formato capitalised to the fullest extent and took the race win and the title in the process for the Nando’s Ford Focus ST.

“Any championship is a team effort and this most rewarding one could not have been possible without the mammoth dedication of Team Ford Racing, the mechanics, Shaun (Duminy), the Ford management and, of course, Nando’s and Sasol,” said an elated Formato. Team mate Duminy played a supportive role throughout the season, recording excellent results in the process for the team’s Nando’s sponsored Ford Focus STs.

“Our home track treated us well this weekend and the results are just reward for the dedication displayed by the team the whole year,” continued Formato. “We made good progress throughout the year on the Ford Focus STs, gaining reliability and performance, and coupled with consistent results, the title is deservedly ours. We knew there was no room for complacency despite our strong finish to the season and the title is a very exciting and honourable reward.”

Monday, 19 October 2009


Following controversy regarding the 2009 Bridgestone Production Car Championship, Motorsport South Africa issued this statement:

“At the end of the final event of the season, at Kayalami on 17 October 2009, Anthony Taylor (Afrox BMW) and Johan Fourie (Indy Oil Audi) were tied on 114 points each.  As per normal procedure, their race results during the season were assessed to break the tie.  Both drivers had achieved an equal number of wins but Taylor had achieved more second place finishes and the tie was therefore resolved in his favour.

However, subsequent to the Kayalami event, Lee Philips of SAM Racing withdrew an outstanding protest concerning his driver Marco da Cunha at last month’s Phakisa event.  This withdrawal of the protest meant that the penalty of a race exclusion imposed on da Cunha remained in force and all the competitors that finished behind him in the race were promoted one position in the race results. 

From this, Johan Fourie gained one point, sufficient for him to move one point clear of Anthony Taylor in the Class A championship.

Also subsequent to the Kayalami event, a formal protest has been lodged with MSA by the Afrox BMW team.

This protest, which hinges around the qualifying bonus points awarded to Dawie Olivier (Sasol Subaru), may also potentially affect the outcome of the Class A championship. 

The championship results therefore remain provisional until such time as this protest, and any subsequent appeals that may be forthcoming, have been finally resolved.”

Something smells rotten here, I dare say. Why did Philips withdraw and is the Afrox BMW team that desperate for its potential points?


JAGUAR SAYS: Female motorists and motoring journalists in South Africa reckon that the Jaguar XF is tops. This has been confirmed by the announcement that this beautiful, fast car has won its category in the third annual WOW Women’s Car of the Year Awards.

The Jaguar XF came up trumps in the “Top Gears” category (for cars with a retail price of R250 000 and above). It beat nine other vehicles: the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Porsche Boxster/Cayman, Audi A4, Lexus IS250, Honda Accord, MINI Convertible, Alfa GT, Audi A3 and BMW Z4.

The WOW Women’s Car of the Year Awards are convened by Associated Magazines, publisher of Women on Wheels (WOW) magazine. These are the only car awards in South Africa designed and run by women, for women. The finalists were featured in WOW, an annual motoring guide bagged with Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, House and Leisure and O, The Oprah Magazine.

A panel of esteemed women judges – including Charleen Clarke, Heléne Griffiths, Fenley Foxen and Peta Lee – were assembled to judge the cars in various categories and WOW readers were also given an opportunity to vote (WOW reaches a 1.6 million strong group of high powered, high income women). The 2009 edition of WOW described the XF as “the finest executive car on our roads”.

Justine Joseph, editor of WOW, says the Jaguar XF’s triumph is “a testament to the fact that this brand is successfully evolving from a classic – and a classically male car – to a cutting-edge choice for South African women”. “That’s why more women than ever before can’t wait to get their hands on this hot set of wheels. And that’s why we love it!” she notes.

“Hats off to Jaguar for their well-deserved win in the 2009 WOW Women’s Car of the Year Awards,” she adds.

Andrew Daniel, managing director of Jaguar South Africa, was elated at the news. “The XF epitomises the ultimate luxury car for any buyer. The XF has been critically acclaimed for its looks and superb driving experience. When combining this with strong residual values, competitive pricing and a wide range of standard specification, the Jaguar XF is an exceptionally good choice for both men and women.”


Renault South Africa has confirmed that the new Mégane Renaultsport (RS) will be available here some time in 2010. Dates and prices have not yet been confirmed but I can speculate something over R320 000 is in order. Why not? This is after all, the most powerful car in its class. Well second in its class after the Mazda3 MPS.

Power is to be sourced from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo motor making 184kW (250hp) at 5500rpm and peak torque of 340Nm at 3000rpm. Very nice. Of that 340Nm, about 272Nm is already available at 1900rpm. Drive comes from a 6-speed manual gearbox but Renault has not released any performance figures yet. It would be nice if it dipped under the 7 second mark here in Gauteng.

Features include Electronic Skid Control, a rear diffuser, LED daytime running lights, wider wheel arches and different chassis setups.

Two versions called the Chassis and the Cup are sold in the UK and Renault SA has indicated that both will be available here as well.