Thursday, 4 March 2010


The Citroën Survolt Concept unveiled at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show is not only a slap on the face for automakers presenting small, practical cars, it’s also a double slap since its powertrain is as clean as they come.

Being a 3.9m long two-door coupe doesn’t make you dirty, according to the French car maker. Nor does it make you outdated. Look at the flowing lines, the complex designs and floating styling. The massive front grille boasting the company’s new logo is fresh and clean. Bold too. So are those LED lights that also appear at the rear end.

As I said, power will be an all-electric affair, meaning no hybrids here and definitely no petrol engines. C02 emissions are therefore expected to be zero, but performance could match the looks and be breathtaking.


Bugatti’s foray into the super sedan league came to life at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show with the Bugatti 16C Galibier. In following the Veyron’s trail, the 16C Galibier will undoubtedly become the world’s most powerful sedan when it’s produced.

It has that typical Bugatti radiator grille and round LED headlights, showing off its power also with big shoulders and a massive rear end.

The engine is a humongous 8.0-litre, 16-cylinder two-stage supercharged motor with Bugatti-knows how much power. My guess is something well over 550kW, considering the Veyron kicks out 736kW.

Parmigiani Fleurier has created a unique tourbillion watch integrated into the car’s dashboard that can be removed and transformed into a wristwatch. Just one of the ways the car says “nothing out there will touch me”.


The third-generation Kia Sportage was unveiled at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show and I must say it looks the business. It follows on Kia’s new look cars such as the new Sorento and features the brand’s “tiger nose” signature look.

Bigger, longer and wider than its predecessor, the Sportage wants to take the fight to the Japanese like the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV-4, as well as the Chevrolet Captiva and even the premium Germans.

“With the all-new Sportage, we have created a five-seat compact SUV with maximized customer appeal," said Kia Motors president Hyoung-Keun Lee. “Despite the recent and ongoing global economic difficulties, Kia’s market research indicates that demand for C-segment SUVs in Europe will grow steadily over the next five years as customers down-size their vehicles and new models focus attention on the segment.”

Launch engines include two petrol and two diesel units. They range from 85kW to 120kW in power. No further details were given out. I do hope they ram the 2.2-litre turbo diesel in there and give buyers the extra fun of torque.

Kia South Africa has confirmed it is bringing the new Sportage in August this year.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


While many of its competitors, direct and indirect ones, were reeling under the scourge of the recession, Mercedes-Benz South Africa seems to have bucked the trend and made serious money in 2009.

The Zwartkops-based German conglomerate posted R28 billion (€2.7 billion) in revenue thanks to strong sales of the C-Class and the new E-Class primarily. The C-Class has actually been the segment-leader since it was launched, beating the ever-popular BMW 3 Series and fast-coming Audi A4.

“Despite this shrinking of the overall vehicle market, we at MBSA are most encouraged in that we only shed 15% on the passenger car side,” explained President and CEO, Dr Hansgeorg Niefer (pictured). Presenting the group’s results to the media at the Mercedes-Benz Lifestyle Centre in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, Niefer said, “While we anticipated a decrease in the group’s annual consolidated turnover, we are extremely pleased at having gained market share in our business.”

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


GMSA retails 3,884 units in February 2010
With Passenger vehicle sales of 1,639, together with light commercial vehicle sales of 2,061 and 184 heavy trucks delivered, GMSA maintained its position as the third largest vehicle manufacturer in South Africa during February. The company’s market share for the month at NAAMSA was 11.3 %.

GMSA is second largest seller on light commercial vehicles
The Corsa Utility maintained its stranglehold on the sub-1 Ton pick-up market with sales of 1,195 units at NAAMSA. The Corsa Utility has now dominated its sector for the 59th straight month. This was supported by the popular Isuzu KB range at 841 units, giving GMSA company total LCV sales for the month of 2,061 units.

Vehicle sales statistics for February indicate support for a slow but sustainable recovery in the motor industry in South Africa. Total vehicle sales for the month, including those that are not reported in detail, were 20,5% better than the same period in 2009 and 3.2% better than January 2010. On a year to date basis growth remains at 18% when compared to the same period in 2009.


Here you go mini hot hatch fans, the all-new Volkswagen Polo GTI. The small performer features nice bits like LED daytime running lights, an electric panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon headlights and more. But I don’t know which of these will be standard garb on the Mzansi model.  

The GTI is powered by a 1.4 TSI unit with twincharger technology (supercharger and turbo) to make 132kW at 6200rpm and 250Nm between 2000rpm and 4500rpm. A 0 - 100km/h sprint time of 6.9 seconds is claimed, while average fuel consumption is said to be 5.9 litres per 100km. VW saw it fit to use a 7-speed DSG for the little car, instead of offering that old 5-speed manual.

Power is sent to the front wheels through 5-hole 7Jx17 rims with 215/40 R17 87V tyres. The Golf GTI’s XDS system is included in order to improve handling and help the car corner better. If it works as well in this as it does in the Golf then we can expect exceptional handling characteristics.

Europe will get a choice between a 3-door and a 5-door model. I have a sneaky suspicion SA will only get the 5-door.


Porsche revealed the all-new Cayenne SUV at the 2010 Geneva International Motor Show. It replaces the old model which was launched, controversially I might add, in 2002. Porsche fans first gawked and screamed but the Cayenne soon became its maker’s biggest seller, even outgunning the legendary 911.

Bottom of the range Cayenne uses a 3.6 V6 that produces 221kW. It’s coupled with Porsche’s new 8-speed Tiptronic S gearbox. A little higher is the Cayenne S with a 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8 worth 294kW. At the very top, for now, is the Cayenne Turbo with a twin turbo V8 and 368kW, just like Panamera Turbo. A Turbo S can be expected in future and should push out over 400kW to match the BMW X5 M.

Porsche is also feeling the pressure of emissions laws and is therefore getting ready to introduce a Cayenne S Hybrid powered by a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 with 245kW (sounds familiar?) and a 34kW electric motor. Torque is 579Nm attained at only 1 000rpm.

South African customers can count on all the above models to make way to their nearest Porsche Centre. All of them except perhaps the Hybrid. We are just not a hybrid people. In fact, we aren’t even a diesel people yet! Until these two facts change and our fuel improves countrywide, we won’t be getting these super-advanced powertrains.


RENAULT SAYS: Renault South Africa continued to enjoy spectacular growth during February achieving market share of 3.2% - double that for the same month in 2009 - while a strong performance by the locally manufactured Sandero hatchback range in particular, helped the company achieve a 140% increase in sales volume.

NAAMSA’s sales figures for the month confirmed that the market was on the road to recovery according to Régis Fricotte, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Renault South Africa. Despite a low stockholding of certain of new models, Renault sales enjoyed good sales - in large part due to Sandero he added. “In February, Sandero sales grew in excess of twofold those of the last quarter of 2009 with more than 91% of units sold going to private consumers.


Year-to-date new vehicle sales growth of 18% over the first two months of 2009 has given an encouraging signal that the country is moving out of its first recession in 17 years, which is very good news for the business community, according to the chief  executive of McCarthy, Brand Pretorius.

“The motor industry is regarded generally as an accurate barometer of business confidence and activity in the real economy, so the February new vehicle sales performance was heartening,” said Pretorius, whose company is one of the largest retail vehicle groups in South Africa.


FORD SAYS: Ford re-wrote the record books on Saturday, 27 February 2010 by gathering South African Ford enthusiasts from around the country together for the largest recorded Ford parade in history.

The event, which took place at Phakisa Freeway in the Free State, saw 586 Fords come together to participate in a spectacular parade lap for entry into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Ford owners from around the country were invited to bring their vehicles to the Welkom-based race circuit to complete the 3.2km route in celebration of the Blue Oval and its illustrious history.
“It was a fantastic day, the turnout was phenomenal and we’ve been overwhelmed by the loyalty and enthusiasm of all the die-hard Ford fans who joined us,” Ford marketing manager, Ben Pillay said after the record attempt.

Monday, 1 March 2010


Isn’t the gangsta look outdated now?
That’s arguable. Personally I think any 300C still possesses great road presence. Gangsta might be a word that comes to mind because of the large front grille, big shiny wheels, small side windows and the massive rear end, but to some that’s just regal. It demands and commands respect.

Disappointing interior though.
Yes, that is a sore point for me as well. Look, at some point Chrysler was ruled by an autocratic German CEO who didn’t seem to care all that much about it. That man, we’ll give him the nickname Schrempf, had some parts of the old Mercedes-Benz E-Class implanted into the 300C to cut development costs. The result is a mix of overshooting plastics and cruiseliner-like comfort levels. Unfortunately the plastics are weak and the cheapness is felt in a real tangible way.

Scathing remarks.
Deservedly so too. I did like the sports speedo console though, as well as the soft leather seats with red SRT badges. The MYGIG sound system is a true oasis in a desert of ideas and compares among the best in the industry. However, very little else says “sports sedan”.

The engine sounds glorious though.
It’s a 6.1-litre V8, I’d return it if it didn’t give me shivers at high revs. Being naturally aspirated means in Gauteng (1450m altitude) it would lose some of its power, which would translate into slow performance times. The block itself is old-school cast iron with aluminium alloy heads, 90-degree angled and two valves per cylinder. It could have been more hi-tech and probably more fuel-efficient. I’ve always been of the opinion that Chrysler was short-changed when performance engines were being handed out by that Schrempf guy, that instead of benefiting from Merc’s new-generation engines of the time, the company was left to pick up where big brother had dropped off his crumbs. How else do you explain a brand new car having less power than a previous-generation Mercedes equivalent?

I guess that explains the figures.
Partly. As I said, it does lose power because of the altitude, but it was underpowered from the start anyway. Plus the 5-speed automatic gearbox, wonderful in the E55 AMG, just doesn’t come to the performance party in this case. It’s always searching and takes its own time changing when it eventually does find a gear that pleases it. Despite its image and to its advantage the car is not very heavy, pulls with the rear wheels and sounds great. Steering could have a little more feel but this is American muscle so I guess I can forgive it for that.

Would you buy it?
I’d buy it as a “starter pack” performance car that would be worked on to improve performance. Strap on the mandatory modern two turbos, sharpen the steering feel, tighten the suspension and give it better breathing. Yep, that’s what I would do to it, after buying it.

ENGINE: 6.1-litre V8
POWER: 317kW at 6000rpm; 569Nm at 4600rpm
0 – 100KM/H: 6.4 seconds
GEARBOX: 5-speed automatic
TOP SPEED: 260km/h
FUEL AVERAGE: 15.9 l/100km
CO2 e: 390 g/km

NATURAL RIVALS: Audi RS 6, Jaguar XFR, Cadillac CTS-V, Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG

*PRICE RIVALS: Alfa Romeo 3.2 V6 Spider, Audi A5 Cabriolet 3.0 TDI, Audi S4, BMW 335i Coupe, BMW Z4 sDrive30i, Jaguar XF 3.0D, Mercedes-Benz E300, Porsche Boxster, Volvo S80 3.0 T Geartronic


*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.