Friday, 4 December 2009


It must have rained Porsche Panameras! With the South African media launch scheduled for early February 2010, one would expect there to be fewer examples already running on the streets. Not Panamera. We’ve spotted no less than three different ones in the past week, two of them just earlier today! We were able to quickly snap this shiny one at a shopping centre in Woodmead, north of Johannesburg. The concerned model was a Panamera S which is the base child. It appears some customers have acquired their steeds at least two months ahead of the launch.

Mzansi is to get the five-door, two-seat Panamera S, Panamera 4S and the Panamera Turbo which are all powered by a 4.8-litre V8. The first two give out 294kW and 500Nm, the difference being that the 4S has all-wheel-drive (AWD). Implied by its name is the Turbo which is force-fed and kicks out a healthy 368kW and 700Nm of torque.

The Panamera is about 5 metres long, making it more of an Audi A8/ Mercedes-Benz S-Class competitor than that of the A6/ E-Class. Of course our inside information says Porsche is getting ready to enter this A6/ E-Class/ 5 Series segment within the next three years.

Porsche Panamera Pricing
Panamera S (R1 040 000)
Panamera 4S (R1 065 000)
Panamera Turbo (R1 665 000)


4 December 2009 – Ford's FIA World Rally Championship runners-up, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, will drive the all-new Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car, in what will be its competitive debut, in the famous Monte Carlo Rally early next year.

The Finns will use the five-day rally as a key part of their preparation for the 2010 WRC, which starts in February, while showcasing the exciting Fiesta S2000 rally car for the first time in competition.  The car has been developed by Ford's rally partner, M-Sport, and made its first appearance as a safety car in November's Rally of Scotland which, like the Monte Carlo Rally, is not part of the FIA World Rally Championship.


SUZUKI SAYS: In what is Suzuki's centenary year, it's fitting that the Japanese marque also boasts a legacy of almost 40 years for the diminutive yet immensely capable Jimny 4x4 – and its proud line-up of predecessors.

The company began in 1909 as the Suzuki Loom Company in Hamamatsu, Japan, but started producing motorcycles in 1952, and expanded into the car segment in 1955 with the Suzulight compact car.

Certainly one of its most noteworthy achievements was the launch of the LJ series lightweight 4x4 in 1970.


Volvo Car South Africa has put another S80 up for grabs at the 2010 Nedbank Golf Challenge after the first was won yesterday by Retief Goosen when he became the first player to eagle on the 17th.

The 17th on the Gary Player Golf course at Sun City is notoriously tricky and Goosen's eagle was only the second ever in the history of this prestigious tournament. Retief played boldly by hitting his driver off the 17th, in order to leave himself with a short shot in, and then hit his wedge-shot to perfection to spin the ball back into the hole.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


The zany okes at ZA CAR SHOW have snapped the first Lexus IS-Fs to land on South African soil. These pictures were taken soon after the IS-F docked at the harbour. There’s currently no clarity as to whether they are for dealers, customers or if they will be used by Toyota for testing and homologation.

It’s taken almost three years for Lexus SA to bring this car here, a period often extended due to either demand issues or the recession. Fans and executives alike always spoke of possibilities but it was only in recent months that things were confirmed, still on the hush though.

The Lexus IS-F was created as a rival to the BMW M3, Audi RS 4 and Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG. Power is sourced from a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 making 306kW (416hp). Lexus says it can go from 0 – 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and attain a top whack of 274km/h.

Lexus is big on undercutting the competition so I reckon that one of these automatic babies will be priced between R650 000 and R700 000.

Thanks to ZA Car Show for the pictures!


JOHANNESBURG – 2 December 2009 – New vehicle sales figures for November released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) don’t continue the positive trend shown over the last two consecutive months, and indicate that hopes of an improving market are still some way off.

Total market sales for November dropped 5.1% to 34 295 units compared to last month. November new registrations were down 6.7% on the same period last year. Year-to-date sales indicate a 27.1% decline, the market reaching 364 812 new vehicles sales compared to the 500 562 recorded to November last year.

Compared to last month, the light commercial vehicle segment was the only one to show any form of resilience with just 30 sales less than October. However, LCV sales dropped 22% on November 2008, a trend strongly opposed to the 4.4% gain in sales by passenger cars over the same period. Passenger car sales did, however, slump 7.2% compared to October 2009.

“The industry should become wary of comparing year on year sales,” warns Vice President Sales, Marketing and Service, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, Jacques Brent. “Taken out of context, year on year sales look quite promising, in particular the 4.4% gains shown by the passenger car marketing during November. However, by November 2008, the SA car market was already in its significant downward spiral and the indicated changes year on year are therefore already off a low base.”

Medium, Heavy, and Extra Heavy commercial vehicles, as well as buses, showed some sustainability at current levels, but remain substantially lower than this time last year.

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) sales were aided by the introduction of the new Ford Everest during November. The newcomer accounted for 178 sales in its first month. Fiesta remained their best-performing passenger car, all 468 units retailed through the dealer network. Mazda3 remained the strongest performing Mazda with 208 units sold during November.

FMCSA’s overall market position was skewed by the removal of Volvo car sales from their total. Despite this fact, the company’s passenger car sales fell only 3% over November 2008.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


MAHINDRA SAYS: Mahindra South Africa, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, is continuing to strengthen its reach to customers all across South Africa. 

With several new dealerships opening across the country over the past few months and more planned for 2010, Mahindra has a growing national footprint that is moving ever deeper into communities as the company continues in its drive to support their products through a range of quality after-sales services.

The Mahindra range of products sold in South Africa includes the Bolero bakkie range, the two XYLO models, as well as the Scorpio SUV and Pik-Up range.

“Since entering the country five years ago, Mahindra has been going from strength to strength, gaining ground in several competitive segments.  The Mahindra dealer base is growing in South Africa and these new facilities will enable us to better support our customers,” said Ashok Thakur, Chief Executive Officer of Mahindra South Africa.

“We have taken a very steady and deliberate approach to establishing our dealer network by not merely opening as many dealers as quickly as possible, but ensuring that we are able to offer quality service and parts support where and when our customers need it most,” said Thakur.  “Customer satisfaction is paramount.”

McCarthy Mahindra Pretoria North and Polokwane, two new dealerships, include brand new sales showrooms as well as state-of-the-art workshops.  Teams of experienced staff have been employed to sell the Mahindra range of products. These staff members will be specifically trained to provide excellent support in sales, service and parts.

“We are proud to now include the Mahindra dealerships in Pretoria and Polokwane in the McCarthy family and believe that the McCarthy experience, combined with a unique and quality product range, will offer the buying public an exceptional alternative,” said Brand Pretorius, CEO of McCarthy Limited.

A policy of customer care is an integral part of the work ethic of both of these new dealerships, ensuring that customers will return again and again. Fully stocked parts departments allow all normal parts requirements to be supplied directly to the workshop.

Backed by McCarthy Motor Holdings, these new dealerships can rely on an established track record in the local motor retail industry, dating back almost a century.  The Group has dealerships operating in most of the motor franchises in South Africa and has the largest dealer network of new and used vehicles in the country with a wealth of expertise and a proven record in sales, service and parts.

Another recently opened dealership is Mahindra Silverton which forms part of Hydro Holdings.  Featuring 1 500m² of state-of-the-art facilities, Mahindra Silverton is geared to offer customers a true one-stop-shop experience.

“We believe that the Mahindra range offers a true value-for-money alternative without compromising on quality and features,” said Paul Jansen van Vuuren, Managing Director of Hydro Fleet Services.  “We are proud to offer customers total peace of mind and outstanding after sales service.”

With this conviction in mind, the new dealership will provide the full range of Mahindra products, backed by after sales service and parts support. Furthermore, this product and service offering is supported by an experienced team of administrators, mechanics and sales staff.

Mahindra South Africa now has 30 dealers in all nine provinces of South Africa, which are fully-fledged facilities that handle sales, service and spare parts.  The company has also expanded into other sub-Saharan countries and currently exports vehicles to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia. 

Mahindra SA is also well represented on the agricultural front with a range of tractors currently available in the country. 

One of the hallmarks of the Mahindra range of vehicles is value for money. Although filled with a whole host of value added features, the costs are calculated with the finances of the customer in mind.  Ideally suited to South African conditions, Mahindra’s product range is undoubtedly making an impact on the local motoring public. 


MERCEDES-BENZ SAYS: A limited number of Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Edition will be available exclusively to South African motorists from January 2010. 

The exterior of the C63 AMG Edition is similar to the standard C63 AMG, however, the Edition 63 boasts unique 19-inch alloy wheels and three special Designo paint colours, Platinum Black, Mystic White and Graphite.

“Locally the C63 AMG enjoys an above average market share and these 63 Limited Edition units will add some exclusivity to the current range,” says Eckart Mayer, Divisional Manager, Mercedes-Benz Cars.

New black designo leather will enhance the interior even further and covers the upper section of the dashboard, the upper door trim and the armrest on the centre console.

The AMG driver’s package is a standard feature on the C63 AMG Edition, and this includes and increased speed limit of up to 280 km/h, upgraded brakes and improved engine cooling. This top-of-the-range C-Class model is powered by an AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine. Developing a peak output of 336kW and a maximum torque of 600Nm, the high-revving, naturally aspirated engine delivers unrivalled figures in this segment. The C63 AMG accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds.

The popular media interface functionality - a universal interface in the glove compartment for mobile audio devices like an iPod® and USB stick also with AUX input – is a standard feature in the C63 AMG Edition.

To easily identify this limited C63 AMG Edition, each of the sixty-three units will be numbered “1 of 63”.  This designation will appear on the gearshift lever in the outline of the map of South Africa.

The recommended retail price of the C63 AMG Limited Edition is R930 000 and comes standard with the MobiloDrive 120 maintenance plan - 120 000 km or 6 years - together with a 2 year full vehicle warranty.


Volkswagen’s first foray into the mid-range bakkie (pickup) segment is now official. The new Amarok is the first one-tonne bakkie to be developed in Germany and will be produced at the company’s “Pacheco” plant in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

At launch only the double-cab version will be available. The single-cab is to be launched during the first half of 2011.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Audi has announced details and released pictures of the all-new 2010 A8 flagship sedan. Audi South Africa will launch the new A8 – codenamed D4 – sometime in 2010, probably in the third quarter. For now let’s look at some specifications and technologies the car employs.

Engines have been upgraded. At the bottom of the list, for now, is a 3.0 V6 TDI making 150kW. It’s followed by a more specced up version of the same engine kicking out 184kW and 550Nm of torque. C02 emissions for the two are 159g/km and 174g/km respectively. The more potent 4.2 V8 TDI makes do with 257kW and a massive 800Nm. So far the only petrol model announced is the 4.2 V8 with 274kW and 445Nm of torque. A rumoured “baseline” model with a 155kW 2.0TFSI has been spoken about, but I reckon the 3.0 TFSI is more plausible. It should produce about 255kW and 460Nm.

Audi is joining other premium car makers by introducing an 8-speed automatic for its biggest sedan. The adaptive air suspension works hand in hand with what Audi calls the most rigid chassis in its class. Passengers probably won’t feel a thing as they sit comfortably in their 22-way adjustable seats (front).

Although made from aluminium (just like the body of the car), the air springs are stiff, thus improving road holding. The new quattro system first used in the S4 has been utilised for the A8 as well. In addition to distributing torque to both axles the car will also send it to each individual rear wheel. Speaking of wheels, these will be available with up to 21-inch sizes.

Safety is taken care of by a long list of airbags, ABS with EBD, a pre-sense system that ultimately brakes the car for the driver in extreme situations, lane change assistance, and adaptive cruise control.

Other technologies include an upgraded MMI system with a touchpad and 3D maps for the satellite navigation, a large HDD, a USB pod, Bluetooth connectivity and others. In the US a 14-speaker BOSE sound system will come standard. A Bang & Olufsen Advanced sound system will probably be optional in many countries, with its 1 400 Watts that operate 19 aluminium-encased speakers through 19 channels.

It looks like 2010 will be a very interesting year for the A8 segment as BMW tries to solidify its leading position with the 7 Series in the SA market, Mercedes-Benz playing catch-up with the excellent facelift S-Class and Jaguar launching the brilliant-looking all-new XJ. Can’t wait.


JOHANNESBURG – The Nissan Way, which informs the  global company’s mindset and actions has played a key role in the survival of the company,  according to Rosslyn-based automotive manufacturer Nissan South Africa (Nissan SA).

Says the company’s corporate and finance director Greg Field: “Nissan places much emphasis on the Nissan Way to ensure that all employees are aligned to best company practice.”

The concept that ‘the power comes from inside’ speaks to three aspects - the customer (focus), value creation (driving force) and profit (measurement of success), adds Field “It permeates the need to be behaving in a certain way to achieve certain objectives. Individuals are measured on an on-going basis to ensure that everyone is living the values as an organisation.”

One of the most crucial mindsets that has assisted Nissan in managing through the global financial crisis has been the need for frugality. “It’s made a big difference in our ability to respond to these difficult times,” says Field, citing bringing stock levels down from 720 000 globally to 420 000 in the space of four months.

The current crisis – a decade after Nissan reversed a position of near-bankruptcy - came at the onset of Nissan’s five-year business plan, GT2012, which was modified to ensure the company’s survival. Retaining the plan’s zero emission leadership and quality leadership objectives, a raft of interventions included clear and strong focus on free cash flow management.

Although the company’s half year results saw Nissan global volumes decline by 14.8%, there are signs that measures to survive the crisis – focusing on cash preservation, recovering profitability and implementing harder Alliance synergies – are returning the company to profitability. They include a stabilisation of the Nissan North America and Nissan Japan operations; new product launches in Asia, Japan, the USA and the Middle East; the launch of a low-cost car in India; strong sales growth in China where a growing market coupled with government support is driving huge demand; and commitment to zero emissions leadership and a global electronic vehicle rollout.

While the strong Yen is detrimental to Nissan Japan’s profitability, it has created opportunities for South Africa which has benefited from increased production of the NP300.

 “We’ve had a clear focus on preserving cash with very strong management of stocks and the production build.  We’ve been exploring additional synergies with Renault very aggressively and there is a good working relationship between both parties,” he says of the Alliance which he believes has delivered more positive benefits than some of the industry partnerships.

Although Field doesn’t see significant growth for the next 18 months - because of the high household debt to disposable income ratio, which has affected new vehicle sales significantly - he is pleased to report that, despite a year-on-year decline of 18% against a total industry decline of 29%, Nissan SA managed to grow its market share to 8% in calendar year 2009 and is clawing back its third position behind Toyota and Volkswagen.

“Our monthly TIV volume has stabilised, and we anticipate marginal growth in 2010,” predicts Field.

Other impacts affecting future sustainability include a slow recovery of export markets, further deterioration of TIV, foreign exchange fluctuations, consumer spending limitations, accessibility to credit, raw material price increases, fuel hikes, distressed suppliers and a change in the mobility requirement by the market.

However, Field is cautiously optimistic going forward.  “The Nissan Recovery Plan is on track and the indications are that we will maintain positive cash flow and profitability.”

Monday, 30 November 2009


The government has announced that a 27 cent/ litre rise in all grades of petrol is on the cards for Wednesday 2nd of December 2009. The price of wholesale diesel will increase by 25 cents a litre while illuminating paraffin will increase by 29 cents.
The Department of Energy says consumers are simply carrying the international price increases for these liquids as well as suffering from a weak Rand/ US dollar exchange rate.

“The average Rand/US Dollar exchange rate for the period 30 October 2009 to 26 November 2009 was 7.5722 compared to 7.4988 during the previous period,” said the Ministry.

No indication has been given as to which direction these commodities will take in January, but because of signs of economic recovery in many parts of the world, as well as the winter that’s upon the northern hemisphere which will increase demand and prices, it would be safe to assume another increase.

Picture courtesy of 


The new Volkswagen Polo has just been voted the 2010 European Car of the Year. The votes were carried out by a jury of 59 motoring journalists from 23 European countries. This is the first time in 18 years that a VW car has won the title. The last time was in 1992.

VW SA will launch the new Polo towards the end of January 2010, possibly with a 1.2 TSI and a 1.6 TDI worth 77kW each.

This is how the voting points went:

Volkswagen Polo 347 points
Toyota iQ 337 points
Opel/Vauxhall Astra 221 points
Skoda Yeti 158 points, 54 votes
Mercedes-Benz E-class 155 points
Peugeot 3008 144 points, 49 votes
Citroen C3 Picasso 113 points


Gavin Cronje, a South African motor sport champion in international competition in 2009, completed a successful LM P1 prototype sports car test with French Le Mans 24 Hours winners Team Oreca Matmut AIM in the south of France this week.

The test, which saw the 30-year-old from Johannesburg joined by three other Formula Le Mans winners in a two-day programme at the Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet, was Cronje and Belgian co-driver Nico Verdonck’s prize for winning the inaugural Formula Le Mans Cup.  The other two drivers, Valle Makela of Finland and Mathias Beche of Switzerland, were the runners-up.

The six-round series, in which Cronje and Verdonck scored nine victories in 12 races, is a dedicated launch pad for the top echelon of endurance racing and the car Cronje drove is the one campaigned by Bruno Senna, Olivier Panis, Stephane Ortelli and Nicolas Lapierre in this year’s Le Mans Series. 

Lapierre, winner of the last Le Mans Series race, the Silverstone 1000 km, was on hand to offer advice and instruct the four drivers.  The aim of the test was not to evaluate their outright speed, but to give them a taste of what it’s like to drive at the highest level of sports car racing.

The first day started with a visit to the French prototype constructor’s workshop, a briefing with technical staff plus seat and driving position fittings.

The next day the four Le Mans Series hopefuls got down to the serious business of sampling the LM P1 Oreca around a 3.8km version of the main circuit.  In an all-too brief 25-laps during the day, split into three sessions of five, 10 and 15 laps, Cronje warmed to the task at hand as the circuit, slowed by due in the opening session, warmed up and lap times came down.

Gavin Cronje: “It’s been a great pleasure to drive this car. I was very impressed by the performance of the Oreca prototype; it’s obvious that it’s very different to the Formula Le Mans car. It goes a lot quicker and the most striking difference is the aerodynamic package, which generates enormous grip. For safety reasons there was no question of any of us trying to find the limits of the car, and I think we all played fair.

Nonetheless, it gave us an opportunity to glimpse this car’s potential and I’m really delighted to have taken part in this test. It’s the result of Nico’s and my great season with the DAMS team. This test is clearly the most interesting experience I’ve had in motor racing so far, and I’d be all the happier if I could orient my career towards an LM P1 programme. It’d be the next step and that’s what I’m working towards, but it’s still a bit too early to say what I’ll be doing next season.”

STORY BY: Peter Burroughes Communications


MERCEDES-BENZ SAYS: No less than three Mercedes model series at once have achieved the highest rating of five stars in the more stringent EuroNCAP test - the E-Class, GLK (not sold in SA) and C-Class.

In line with the claim that 'One star is sufficient', Mercedes-Benz has always taken a comprehensive safety approach that reflects what actually happens in real accidents. “Real Life Safety is far more than performance in standardised crash tests or the number of onboard airbags. The innovative PRE-SAFE system for example, which improves safety shortly before an accident occurs, is not assessed at all by EuroNCAP,” Schöneburg explains.