Friday, 9 April 2010


Chery, the biggest car exporting automotive company in China, manufactured its 2-millionth car on March 26, 2010. It took eight years – 1999 to 2007—to produce the first million Chery cars and less than three years to pass the 2-million mark.

The line-off ceremony for the 2-millionth car was witnessed by 1 300 people, which included leaders from China’s National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Industry and Information, Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Finance. The function took place at the purpose-built manufacturing facility located in the town of Wuhu, Anhui province, 

The company’s next targets are to produce 5- and 10-million cars in the future, according to the Chairman and General Manager of Chery, Yin Tongyue, speaking at the line-off ceremony. He said the company will continue to be an independent innovator and major exporter.

Chery, which was founded in 1997 and started vehicle production in 1999  is the fifth Chinese motor company to produce 2-million passenger vehicles, after Shanghai Volkswagen (June 2002), FAW Volkswagen (July 2007), Shanghai General Motors (February 2008) and Guangzhou Honda (March 2010).

It is the only independent Chinese brand to reach this milestone and Chery has now been the top selling independent Chinese car brand for 11 consecutive years. It has also been the biggest car exporter from China for seventh successive years.

“Now that we have passed the 2-million mark we are determined to continue to be the leading independent brand and exporter,” said Chairman and General Manager Tongyue.



Audi of South Africa has confirmed that the RS 5 Coupe will be in the country by the third quarter of 2010. That means we should have seen it by the end of September, at the very latest. Fantastic news for those who have been waiting for it since the launch of the A5 and S5.

The two-door RS 5 is said to rewrite performance tallies for the segment and will be a super ambassador for its mother brand. It was first unveiled at the recent Geneva International Motor Show and features lightweight aluminium in its armour, and a 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine.

The high-revving motor makes 331kW at a nauseating 8250rpm and maximum torque of 430Nm between 4000rpm and 6000rpm. If you know the previous-generation RS 6 you’ll remember that its turbo 4.2 V8 made exactly 331kW too. Forcing all of that through the quattro AWD system is a 7-speed S Tronic gearbox. Audi claims a 0 – 100km/h figure of 4.6 seconds for the RS 5, 0.1 second quicker than the old RS 4. I suspect coastal tests from the likes of CAR, Cars in Action and TopCar will reveal a quicker time.

Should the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG be genuinely afraid? I think so. RS 5 promises to be the car that safe drivers want, and heavy-hitters feel they can push to the limit. Quattro can have its performance setbacks in understeering but the RS 5 will send as much as 85% of torque to the rear wheels, essentially making it a RWD at that moment.

At this point it’s way too early to be getting official prices but we reckon something in the lines of R800 000 should be expected.


Johannesburg – 8 April 2010 – Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) today announced plans to invest more than R 3 billion to expand operations for the production of Ford's next-generation compact pick-up truck and Puma diesel engine. This announcement represents an additional R 1.5 billion to the previous investment announced in 2008. The increased investment represents the higher levels of mechanisation and component development required to deliver vehicles of world class quality.


TOYOTA SAYS: Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and Mazda Motor Corporation (Mazda) have reached an agreement on the supply under license of hybrid technology used in the Toyota Prius.

Leveraging this agreement, Mazda plans to combine the hybrid system with its next-generation SKY* engine that is currently under development, and develop and manufacture a hybrid vehicle in Japan. Mazda is aiming to commence sales of a hybrid vehicle starting in Japan by 2013.

Thursday, 8 April 2010


RENAULT SAYS: Renault South Africa continued its sales high during March with Sandero sales soaring to make up 71.32% of the marque’s unit sales. It was also a milestone month for Renault’s dealer network which recorded its best retail performance since May 2007.

Warren Olsen, General Manager of Marketing at Renault South Africa reported that the company continued to show positive growth achieving a market share of 2.93% for the month versus 1.9% in March 2009. “Our unit sales for the first quarter of the year were 94.62% up compared to the same period in 2009,” he added.

“For the third consecutive month, the market showed signs of recovery and the 13.7% increase in passenger car sales overall compared to March 2009, is clear indication that the South African economy is on the road to recovery.

“Renault’s growth has been strong and consistent - thanks to Sandero’s solid performance in particular - and the action plan that we launched in mid-January is clearly delivering the potential that this car deserves,” concluded Olsen.


First Things, Does It Beat The Old E 55 AMG?
Er, I can’t answer that with a high degree of certainty. Our figures say 5.3 seconds 0 – 100km/h, and that with launch control. I tested the E 55 AMG way back in 2004 and got a time of 5.15 seconds for the 0 – 100km/h sprint under different conditions (lower temperature, lighter fuel load, lower altitude of around 1300m vs 1400m for the E 63 AMG). All that said, the new car is the best AMG E-Class ever built.

Yes. While the E 55 AMG set the benchmark in performance for the segment by beating its contemporary BMW M5 (294kW) and the first Audi RS 6 (331kW), handling that car was a major puzzle. It was like driving a bicycle with a V8 engine. Yes, straight line performance was unmatched by a mile, but cornering and tractability were unheard of. Refreshingly the new E 63 AMG is a vast improvement. So even though figures speak volumes, there’s more to it than meets the 0 – 100km/h sprint.

But How?
The exterior look for instance, is very different from the normal E-Class. It features a new front grille, extra air intakes, the trademark 6.3 AMG on the sides, side skirts, a new rear bumper, four trapezoidal tailpipes and a sport diffuser. While most of these aerodynamic changes are necessary for enhanced performance, they also serve to dress up the gentleman. In normal driving conditions only the deep murmur of that naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 reminds you of what’s under the bonnet. Prod the accelerator a little and, depending on where the gear lever is pointed (Sport, M, etc), the response is instant and massively authoritative. Rather keep it in full automatic mode and change its characteristics with the toggle instead; those compact paddles behind the steering, lovely as they are, just don’t speak directly to the gearbox. By the time changes have been made underneath, the finger has long been trying to access the next cog.

I drove it at the Kayalami Race track when it was launched and was impressed with its sturdy steering force and easy-to-handle feedback. Although not the sharpest tool in the shed, it has been quite notably improved from the previous car and certainly over the mad E 55 AMG.

And Inside?
Inside too. Again the air of subtlety is overwhelming, with only bits and pieces being obvious AMG items, such as the small badges, a sports steering wheel, a new gear lever and AMG speedometer dials. Luxury features like electro-hugging sports seats that keep you in place under cornering are still there. So are things like satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and a powerful sound system. All these and more are expected, and delivered by a car costing upwards of a million stackaroos. Merc has tried to strike a harmonious relationship between comfort and sporty, and I do admit that they’ve done it. You can drive the E 63 AMG quite ruggedly but also quite serenely, depending on your temper and/ ability. Because of this ability it never really feels its true size.

Can It Beat Its Rivals?
I’d probably say it cuts the middle ground in terms of performance and cosiness. While the RS 6 is much more brutal when the mood strikes it, and the XFR is the best of both worlds, the new E 63 AMG runs without breaking too much sweat. It feels like that high school kid who teachers always said could do better, but he clearly wasn’t interested in doing better. He wanted to be among the best, but not necessarily do to everything needed to be the best.

ENGINE: 6.2-litre V8 (6208 cc)
POWER: 386kW at 6800rpm; 630Nm at 5200rpm
0 – 100KM/H: 5.3 seconds
GEARBOX: 7-speed automatic
TOP SPEED: 250km/h
FUEL AVERAGE: 15.6 l/100km
FUEL RANGE: 513km (combined)
CO2 e: 399 g/km

NATURAL RIVALS: Audi RS 6, Jaguar XFR, Cadillac CTS-V, Chrysler 300 C SRT8

*PRICE RIVALS: Audi S8, Jaguar XKR, Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 Carrera S

*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.

Monday, 5 April 2010


In a vindication of GM Chief Designer Ed Welburn’s sharp and crisp design direction, the new Chevrolet Camaro has won the 2010 World Car Design of the Year Award. The legendary muscle car outmuscled other Top 3 finalists, the Citroen C3 Picasso and Kia Soul, for the accolade.

The experts observed that, “The new Camaro leans on its heritage but does so in an artful, modern fashion, argue our design experts.  “Although it borrows some of its styling cues from the first generation Camaro, they all contribute to a simple, pure and modern appearance. It is the most dynamic Camaro ever,” says Masatugu Arimoto, chairman of the Japan Auto Colour Award program. 

Associate Editor of Car Design News Sam Livingstone appreciates the “innately seductive exterior and interior. It’s well resolved and I’d argue evidence that General Motors strikes a better balance than Ford and Chrysler do in their pony cars.”

Several world markets have received their Camaros. We were promised that the car will arrive in South Africa at some point this year but nothing concrete has been said since then.

Previous winners of the World Car Design of the Year award were the Fiat 500 in 2009, the Audi R8 in 2008, the Audi TT in 2007 and the Citroen C4 in 2006.