Thursday, 21 January 2010


RENAULT SAYS: Renault dealerships throughout South Africa are set for a stampede through their showrooms following the launch of the ‘Test-drive a Twingo Renault Sport’ campaign.

Following hot on the heels of Renault’s record-breaking sales performance during 2009, this challenge underscores Renault’s confidence in its all-new model line-up. And, in the spotlight to kick off the new year, what better than the Twingo RS?


Leverkusen, 26 January 2010. A new facelift version of the popular Mazda6 will have its world premiere at this year’s Geneva Motor Show in March. This new, upgraded version enhances the strengths of its predecessor, like driving fun and fuel efficiency; while improving interior refinement, environmental compatibility and safety performance.

The new Mazda family face is introduced, along with new head and rear lamps, for more sportiness and a clearer premium identity. Six engines will be available, including a powerful new 2.0-litre DISI petrol that uses less fuel and produces fewer emissions than the 2.0-litre engine it replaces. Its five-speed automatic transmission was adapted especially for this new petrol engine to deliver an optimal combination of acceleration and fuel economy. Updated versions of the Mazda MZR 1.8 and 2.5-litre engines round out the petrol line-up, and on the diesel side the Mazda MZR-CD 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine is available in three power derivatives – from 95kW to 132kW – all of them sporty, with improved fuel-efficiency and lower CO2 emissions.

The Mazda6 also features new chassis settings and several new active safety features – like a new pivoting adaptive front lighting system and hill-launch assist – that together make the Mazda6 facelift one of the safest and easiest-to-drive cars in its segment.

Mazda6 facelift will go on sale in Europe this northern hemisphere spring.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


HONDA SAYS: Leading British consumer warranty supplier Warranty Direct has identified the Honda CR-V as the UK market’s most reliable sports utility vehicle (SUV).

The company used its unique reliability index survey to identify the most – and the least – reliable SUVs and all-wheel drive cars on the market. The analysis was based on Warranty Direct’s database of approximately 150 000 units, all aged between three and eight years.


After selling over 172 000 units of the Polo hatchback in South Africa since its market introduction in 2002, Volkswagen is keen to tighten its grip on the A0 segment with the launch of the all-new car. Word is that the best brains from VW were seconded into the Polo project, including SA-born designer Oona Scheepers, Chief of Design Walter de Silva and board chairman / CEO Martin Winterkorn.

Evident from this is first off, is how much quality has been achieved with the Polo from an interior point of view. Before getting there we can examine some of the finer exterior design aspects. Dimensions are almost all increased (3.9 metres long, 1.68m wide, 1.45m high – which is actually lower than the previous car) and with luggage space of up to 952 litres.

De Silva believes in simplicity; if a line is not needed or doesn’t serve a particular purpose then that line will be erased. This language is evident in the Golf, Scirocco and now Polo where the front grille features a single-line style crossing the mid-section and the headlights are accentuated by sharp kinks on the edges. The bumper separates the front end in a big way such that without it a gaping grille would scare off oncoming traffic. A line going from the front side all the way to the rear lights cluster, creating a hip just above the C pillar. Simplicity is absolutely personified on the rear end where, apart from the lights, no real excitement can be seen.

Depending on the trim level (Trendline or Comfortline) the Polo could feature front foglights and 6Jx15 wheels with 185/60 R15 tyres. Eight exterior colours are offered including names like Pepper Grey, Shadow Blue, Flash Red and Candy White.

Inside materials have been improved vastly; the new dash features a soft “slush” material that feels good to the human touch. No longer can you crack a skull when banging on it, for whatever reason. I knocked on it a few times and not once did I hurt my knuckles. Equipment levels are quite high and include plenty of storage bins, a foldable rear seat and tinted windows. The options menu lists such things as a radio/ CD/ MP3 player, six speakers, rear park distance control and a multi-function steering wheel on the higher trim Comfortline.

The safety of the Polo is proven by a 5-star rating on the Euro NCAP programme where it scored particularly well in the pedestrian protection section. Electronic Stability Control or ESP is standard with hill hold on the turbo diesel and it works with ABS, EDS and anti-slip regulation.

For now three engine choices are available; a baseline 1.4-litre making 63kW at 5000rpm and 132Nm of torque, plus a 1.6-litre worth 77kW at 5250rpm and 155Nm at 3500rpm. Escorting the 1.4 around some curvy Cape Town roads I realised that at Gauteng altitudes it would suffer considerable performance anxiety. Smooth and surefooted it is, but powerful and confident it certainly isn’t. The 1.6 fared slightly better but not by much. The real buzz so far will be courtesy of the 1.6 TDI with 77kW and a peak torque figure of 250Nm achieved between 1500rpm and 2500rpm. Disappointingly VW has stayed clear of its excellent TSI technology when it comes to the Polo, and therefore no 1.2 TSI or 1.4 TSI motors are on the short-term horizon.

Fuel consumption numbers are listed as 6.1 litres per 100km for the 1.4, 6.4 litres per 100km for the 1.6 and a recession-busting 4.2 litres per 100km for the 1.6 TDI. The 1.4 promises to go from 0 – 100km/h in 12.5 seconds and attain a top speed of 177km/h. Better numbers naturally come from the 1.6 TDI; 0 – 100km/h in 10.4 seconds and top speed is 189km/h. The corresponding C02 emissions are said to be 109 g/km.

VW SA has already geared up to produce the Polo at its Uitenhage plant in the Eastern Cape. The company will be the sole 5-door, right-hand-drive global supplier, exporting to markets such as Japan and the UK. For the domestic market about 17 500 units are planned. While the number may seem paltry in world terms – Winterkorn wants to sell well over 7 million cars per year and overtake Toyota by 2018 - , here it means about 1 400 a month, which would make it the market leader.

VW offers a 3-year/ 120 000km warranty as standard. A 5 year/60 000km maintenance plan and service plan are sold as options to keep the list price as low as possible.

Volkswagen Polo hatch pricing
1.4 Trendline (R144 900)
1.4 Comfortline (R161 900)
1.6 Trendline (R166 900)
1.6 Comfortline (R183 800)
1.6 Comfortline Tiptronic (R197 900)
1.6 TDI Trendline (R209 900)

Monday, 18 January 2010


VW SAYS: Former world rally champion Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz of Spain led an historic Volkswagen 1-2-3 in the 32nd Dakar Rally in Argentina on Saturday when they brought their Race Touareg home in a time of 47h 10min 00sec after 14 days and 9 000 km of marathon off road racing.

It was an emphatic victory for the man they call ‘El Matador’, twice a world rally champion, who had led from stage five.  It also made up for the disappointment he experienced 12 months ago when he crashed out of the 2009 Dakar on stage five while leading.

This time he made no mistake and finished a slim 2min 12sec ahead of team-mates Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Timo Gottschalk of Germany and 32min 51sec in front of American Mark Miller and South African Ralph Pitchford in the third Volkswagen.  Miller and Pitchford, who is the South African off road champion co-driver, finished second in last year’s Dakar.


MITSUBISHI SAYS: Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced an unprecedented collaboration by its Canadian unit Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada Inc. and Hydro-Québec that will put up to 50 zero-emission all-electric i-MiEV passenger cars on the streets of the City of Boucherville, an independent municipality and a suburb of Montreal, in the largest Canadian project ever fielded to integrate, test, and evaluate all-electric vehicles on urban streets under real-world conditions.


DETROIT – The Chevrolet Aveo RS show car is destined to be one of the show stoppers at the 2010 North American International Auto Show. It features a European-inspired hot hatch look designed to appeal to young enthusiasts, and hints at the next-generation Aveo.

Longer, wider and more spacious than the current production Aveo, the Aveo RS showcases the car’s upscale-looking design cues both inside and out, and presents the many personalization options potentially available on the next-generation car.

“We hope the Aveo RS show car will demonstrate that we are as serious about redefining the Aveo and its place in the small-car segment as we were about reinventing the Malibu,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet general manager.