Thursday, 19 November 2009


PRETORIA, November 19, 2009 – Ford Motor Company today announced the appointment of Jeffery Nemeth as president and CEO of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA), effective Jan. 1, 2010. Nemeth is currently president of Ford Lio Ho (Taiwan).


VW SAYS: At the opening of the Nelson Mandela Bay Logistics Park (NMBLP) in Uitenhage today, Volkswagen of South Africa announced the commencement of a major worldwide Right Hand Drive (RHD) export contract for the all new Volkswagen Polo.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Ford will have known that naming a vehicle Everest would create certain impressions and perpetuate expectations as far as delivery is concerned. It’s like naming your kid Einstein. Under this cloud of expectation I took charge of a Ford Everest SUV in sunny Western Cape thinking the journey would lead me to Mt Everest where I would be required to follow in Sir Edmund Hillary and Sibusiso Vilane’s steps up the world’s tallest peak. Luckily not.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


South Africa is one of the world’s top six Mercedes-Benz AMG markets and as such the brand’s customers need a little extra attention. So five brand new AMG Performance Centres have been opened in Mercedes-Benz Century City in Cape Town, Mercedes-Benz Umhlanga in Durban, Mercedes-Benz Bryanston, Mercedes-Benz Bedfordview and Mercedes-Benz Menlyn in Pretoria.

“The targeted training of AMG Sales and Service experts all over the world through a uniform coaching partner ensures first-class service delivery at every touch-point throughout the customer relationship,” says Eckart Mayer, the boss Mercedes-Benz Cars SA.  “A ‘hotline’ to the experts of AMG at the Mercedes-Benz South Africa office also guarantees that the high standards of service expected by AMG customers can be met: Every AMG Performance Centre can make direct contact with an AMG expert, should they have any questions about the product or specific configuration possibilities.”

Five AMG specialists were recently taken on a highly advanced course at the Mercedes-Benz Dynamic Driving facility at the Zwartkop Raceway in Tshwane. The learnt the ins and outs of AMG cars in a safe and contained environment.


VOLKSWAGEN SAYS: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has been confirmed as the “Official Vehicle Supplier” to the 2010 Dakar Rally and will supply a total of 35 Volkswagen Amarok to the Dakar Rally organiser, the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.).

Monday, 16 November 2009


TATA Motors South Africa is known for marketing and selling reasonably-priced entry-level cars that include the new Indica Vista hatch and the Xenon range of bakkies (pickups). Now a new Xenon is out on the Mzansi market and it’s more powerful and fuel efficient than its predecessor. Quality is also alleviated to acceptable standards, although our unit exhibited a couple of issues such as a rear window that sometimes wouldn’t open or close when prompted and a handbrake rubber cover that rubbed too much against its casing, thus causing bits of rubber to fall off.

I got to drive the Xenon 2.2 L DLE at Bass Lake, about 40km outside of the Johannesburg city centre. The lake itself is one big hole created by spring-fed water. Thousands of litres of water are pumped out of the lake on a minute-by-minute basis. Have a look at the pictures above and tell me these obstacles were tackled by a Tata. One of the steeps is so entrenched it’s said even Land Rover vehicles struggle to clear it. But this Indian-made bakkie went over it like it wasn’t even there.

Powered by a new 2.2-litre intercooled turbo diesel motor, the vehicle makes 104kW at 4000rpm and 320Nm between 1700rpm and 2700rpm. Typical figures for the engine really but an improvement from the brand which used to get similar power from a bigger motor. A 5-speed manual gearbox sends power to either two wheels or all four depending on the specification chosen. For our purposes the 4x4 was the one to take on the rugged stuff.

The front suspension is independent and made of a double-wishbone with torsion bar while the rear has parabolic leaf springs. Tata decided to fit a limited slip differential (LSD) instead of a diff-lock system. It improves performance vastly while keeping the car light and agile. The 5.5 J X 16" steel rims run on 215R 16C 106 S tubeless radials. Executives were adamant that the 1.8 ton bakkie will carry a 1.2 ton load with no problems at all. In fact a few examples lay loaded within sight, filled with different goods for demo purposes. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to put these through any sort of paces. It has a towing capacity of 750kg with a braked trailer and 2000kg with an unbraked one. Very capable then. The rear load area is 40cm deep allowing for the carriage of most items with relative ease.

Tata likes speccing their standard vehicles up and the Xenon is no exception. It has power steering, front electric windows, adjustable steering wheel, a radio/ CD system, ABS and front fog lamps. Double cabs – called comfort cabs – also feature air conditioning and all-round power windows.

The new Tata Xenon 2.2 L DLE is sold with a 3 year/100 000km warranty, a 3 year/ 75 000km service plan and 2 year/ Unlimited km roadside assistance.

The market is crying for a strong, robust but affordable workhorse in these times of recession and constant price hikes. If you can get past the badge (that now owns Jaguar and Land Rover by the way) then you’ll see a vehicle of this sort, at a price you didn’t expect.

Tata Xenon 2.2 L DLE Pricing
Xenon Single Cab 4x4 a/c 2.2 (R206 495)
Xenon Double Cab 4x2 a/c 2.2 (R209 995)
Xenon Double Cab 4x4 a/c 2.2 (R229 995)


Driving at night is a nightmare enough for most people, let alone piloting a turbo car on a race track. That’s exactly what we got up to last week at the Zwartkops Raceway near Pretoria, South Africa. One might wonder if we were practising for the 2010 Singapore Formula One race but sadly not. The occasion was the media introduction of the new Daihatsu Materia Turbo, a small car packing enough dynamite to blow higher than its own paperweight.

Packing a 1.5-litre petrol turbo engine the wasabi roll puts out 110kW at 5750rpm and maximum torque of 190Nm at 4800rpm. About 170Nm of the torque comes in at 2000rpm. Had you been driving past the track you would not only see headlights in fours (we switched on the fogs as well) but the boost could be heard for miles, especially when changing down to second gear at the hairpin. The 5-speed manual gearbox makes sure gears are accessible at any engine speed, giving it silly drivability.

Daihatsu says the 0 – 100km/h sprint is achieved in 8.9 seconds at Gauteng’s 1500m-plus altitude. Top speed is limited to 200km/h.

Numbers are of course impressive but it’s not just that. The car’s suspension is rigid and has been lowered by some 30mm for a more centred and sporty driving experience. Around the dark track you could throw it on a curve quite confidently knowing it wouldn’t lose its focus easily. If I did the understeer tendency would help bring it back. The limited slip differential (LSD) boosts take-off sessions and also improves handling.

One thing I’ve always liked about this butch Daihatsu is its “pimp” factor. It screams “gangsta” from a distance and begs to be accessorised for a more aggressive image. Things like tinted windows, a bonnet air intake, red walls on the tyres, a rear boot spoiler and a chrome-plated tailpipe all point to something ready to eat up tarmac. And rivals, which include the Toyota Yaris TS, the Opel Corsa 1.6 Turbo Sport and the Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 T-Jet.

The interior boasts a piano black finish, a CD player, air conditioning, power steering, electric windows and side mirrors, and a 3-spoke MOMO steering wheel. Safety is courtesy of ABS brakes with EBD and brake assist, driver, side and passenger airbags. Thankfully none of these were truly tested even when yours truly was going for gold in the night race. Daihatsu executives are planning on making the event an annual thing so perhaps in 2010 I may improve on my 5th (out of 18) overall final standing.

The car comes with a 3-year/100 000km warranty and a 3-year Anti-Corrosion Warranty.

Daihatsu Materia Pricing
Daihatsu Materia Turbo (R219 900)