Friday, 30 April 2010

SA MARKET STILL ON THE UP


“There has been a cardinal shift in the makeup of the South African passenger car market this year when one analyses the Naamsa figures for the first quarter of 2010 with the corresponding period a year ago,” says the chief executive of the McCarthy Group, Brand Pretorius.

“The total market in the three month period has grown by 16.5%, from 60 043 units to 69 951, but the various buyer sectors are completely different.

JAGUAR ENTERS STRONG CLASSICS IN 2010 MILLE MIGLIA


Jaguar is continuing the celebration of its 75th anniversary with a strong entry at the 2010 Mille Miglia revival event.  The company is represented by a total of 27 vehicles from around the world, including an impressive ‘works team’ of classic XK120, C-type and D-type models supported by Jaguar Cars and the Jaguar Heritage Trust.

Jaguar’s strong representation at the 2010 Mille Miglia builds on a long connection with the race.  Back in 1950, the company fielded a four-strong team of XK120s, and a young Stirling Moss took the wheel of a works car the following year.

ON THE ROAD: HONDA ACCORD 2.2 I-DTEC


Accord Has Always Been Underrated In SA.
True, and with not much logical reason, apart from the fact that we are a country of brand snobs who never want to try out anything new. Nevertheless those who dare take the road least travelled often find a pot of the sweet stuff at the T junction.

Guess You Like It Then?
Very much. I’ve actually liked the Accord since the previous generation came to South Africa in the early 2000s. This one is arguably the finest example yet. Admittedly it’s lost some edge as far as looks go, but I reckon that was the aim anyway; go a little conservative on the styling an attract a more mature clientele. Maybe I’m just more mature then.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

ON THE ROAD: DAIHATSU MATERIA TURBO


What A Pimped Out Car!
Absolutely. And all that pimp is standard. From the air scoop on the bonnet, to the round front foglights, the integrated front grille, those black wheels with a red outer lining, clear rear lights, roof spoiler and the single exhaust pipe. The diving line from the A pillar rises ever higher as it approaches the D pillar, rendering the rear windows visibly smaller than the front ones. Very pimp! Admittedly it’s not to everybody’s taste, but it certainly is to mine. I haven’t seen this car in any other colour but white, and the contrast with the black & red wheels is just stunning.

CITROEN DS3 UNLEASHED IN JOZI


Pity South Africans are such committed brand ambassadors for their preferred car marques that they won’t even give something new half a chance to prove itself. Perhaps I’m just a cynic who’s not in touch with current trends. Perhaps my fellow countrymen are slowly showing a mindshift, slowly opening their eyes to new things, trying out brands they’ve never tried before. For if they do, they might find a bag full of pleasant surprises. Like the new Citroën DS3, launched to the local media last week Thursday.

Having seen it in pictures over the past few months I felt the French were on to something exquisite. Citroën once had a reputation for the different, unique, innovative, even niche. Somehow all that was lost during the past 20 years or so, but it seems the le French flair is back on again.

Comparing the DS3 to its natural rivals is only natural, yet a few things stand out. One is that this is the first of its kind for Citroën. Those over the age of 30 will remember the company’s DS cars from days gone by. They were inventive, futuristic, ahead of their time. They were the premium cars of their time. Most of all they were big family cars. Lately the brand aims to go back to those days. Why just a month ago it emerged as a finalist in the 2010 World Car Design of the Year for the C3 Picasso, underpinning that something fundamentally good is happening at Citroën. In fact, since its relaunch to the Mzansi market in January, at least three all-new models have been introduced.

The DS3 can be viewed as the culmination of the massive design tastes found there. It captures the essence of what Citroën used to stand for and hopes to represent once again; quality, innovation, technical excellence and a different personal touch. Does it match up to its competitors, the MINI and the Alfa Romeo Mito?

Definitely. For instance, eleven body colours are available, including black and burgundy. Different roof colour options will be offered too, giving customers a potential 38 combinations to individualise their cars. At 3.9 metres long, 1.7m wide, 1.48m high and a wheelbase of 2.46m, the DS3 is the largest car in its class. Actually it’s about as big as the MINI Clubman. Boot space is a maximum of 980 litres with the rear seats down.

The front grille is accentuated by the new Citroën double chevron, large headlights, round foglights and standard LED daytime running lights. Lovely for this trendy segment. Standard wheels are 16-inch silver alloy types with 195/55 16 Michelin tyres, while the more expensive models feature 17-inch silver alloys shod with 205/45 R17 Michelin rubber. To match those wheels and tyres a sports suspension is specified across the board.

There aren’t too many roads around the Gauteng and North West areas where the DS3 was launched, that offer challenging curves to bring out whatever sporting promises the car and its makers have made. But from the little I experienced it certainly is a major segment contender. Steering is a little on the light side but there isn’t too much understeer either, giving it a good spread of safety and excitement. I loved the feel of the flat-bottomed wheel itself though, very self-assured and full of grip.

Of course the engines are at the heart of any motor vehicle and paradoxically the DS3 shares its with main rival boxer, the MINI. Bottom of the range is a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol motor dishing out 88kW at 6000rpm and 160Nm at 4200rpm. It is said to propel the car from 0 – 100km/h in 8.9 seconds, reaching a top end of 190km/h. Average fuel consumption is claimed at 5.9 litres per 100km and C02s are 136g/km. At sea level it probably performs well enough but at high altitude it’s barely adequate.

The turbocharged 1.6 THP on the other hand is a bit of a gem. Maximum throttle there is 115kW made at 6000rpm and peak torque is 240Nm at a relatively low 1400rpm. Driveability is quite superb. Citroën claims a 0 – 100km/h time of 7.3 seconds, average fuel consumption of 6.7 litres per 100km and C02 emissions of 155g/km. The top speed is 214km/h.

Accessing those forces is a choice between a 5-speed or a 6-speed manual gearboxes, both of which are available immediately at launch. An automatic model starts selling later on this year.

Citroën SA is quite keen on bringing the mad DS3 Racing Edition here, but that will depend on a number of factors, including possible pricing and stock availability. I’d like to speculate that the 147kW pocket c4 would cost around R310 000 to bring here. I hope there’s at least 20 folks out there willing to part with that kind of dosh for a race-bred stunner such as that.

Safety issues which are unfortunately almost always listed last, are the most important. For the DS3 they include ABS with EBD, ESP, 6 air bags and cruise control.

Interior appointments include leather seats for the THP Sport, air conditioning, electronic folding mirrors, a CD player and Bluetooth connectivity. There’s even a factory-fitted air freshener on the dashboard. A unit I drove at the launch emitted an irritating whistling sound through one of the air vents when the air con was switched on. Hopefully it will be sorted out by the time that particular car is sold. Otherwise things seem solid, inside and out.

These days being different is not such a big deal anymore. And if you can be unique but at the same keep the same features and performance as others, what’s stopping you? Try the new DS3 and be surprised. Pleasantly.


Citroën DS3 Pricing
DS3 Style (R199 000)
DS3 Style Design Pack (R209 500)
DS3 Style Techno Pack (R211 000)
DS3 THP Sport (R255 000)

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

ON THE ROAD: NISSAN 370 Z COUPE


Cheap Thrills Again?
Definitely on the “thrills” but not so much on cheap anymore. The 370 Z is obviously more expensive than the 350 Z it replaced, but still represents good value for the buck when compared to its direct rivals.

Break It Down Please.
Let’s go straight to the heart of the matter, which is the new 3.7-litre V6 engine making 245kW. I had hoped Nissan would install a smaller, lighter turbo unit for this car but they chose to stay natural. Nevertheless it’s a lot of electricity passing through the rear axle, but as always, we are based in Johannesburg where up to 17% of that Eskom power can be lost through thinner high-altitude air.

FORMER A1 GP ACE ZAUGG IN TOP TEN OF NEW RACING SERIES


Adrian Zaugg, who won three races for South Africa in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, finished eighth and second in the opening round of the brand new Auto GP series at Brno in the Czech Republic on Sunday.

A new feeder championship for GP2 and Formula One which sees the revival of the Lola-Zytec 3,4-litre V8 cars that formed the basis of the original A1GP series, Auto GP attracted a strong field of 16 cars for its debut with Swiss-based Zaugg, 23, and 19-year-old Colombian Julian Leal driving for the Italian Trident Racing team.

Zaugg qualified fourth for the first of two races, just 0.4 sec behind pole-winning Jonny Reid of New Zealand, a former A1GP driver for his country.  The top 10 drivers were blanketed by just one second.

Zaugg went off the circuit on lap one as he fought for third place with Italian Luca Filippi (Euronova).  He fell back to seventh and lost a further place in the compulsory pit stop, eventually finishing eighth.  Team-mate Leal was 10th after qualifying eighth, while Fillippi won the inaugural Auto GP race from Edoardo Piscopo (DAMS) and Fabio Onidio (Lazarus).

Zaugg made a slow start from pole in race two and fell behind Vladimir Arabadzhiev.  He came back strongly in the second half of the race to pressure the Bulgarian right to the chequered flag, finishing less than half a second behind.  Third was Piscopo and Zaugg’s team-mate Leal was fourth.

The next round of the six-round series is at Imola in Italy on May 21 to 23.

STORY BY PETER BURROUGHES

NISSAN UPDATES QASHQAI FOR 2010, INTRODUCES EXTRA MODEL


Following the 2010 update of the Nissan Qashqai at the company’s Sunderland manufacturing plant in England, the South African operation has introduced this model to local buyers. I’ve driven the Qashqai before and I think it’s an awesome little machine deserving of its international success. Actually it’s one of the cars that emphasise Nissan’s revival in the industry, five years after near-bankruptcy threatened its very existence.

New to the exterior are the bonnet, which is now more muscular and redefined, a distinctive front grille with sporty undertones, different headlights, a rear lights cluster with 12 LED bulbs, as well as a new side aerodynamic spoiler. Roof rails seen on the 2.0-litre models are fitted as standard.

ISUZU BAKKIES PROVE METTLE AT 72 HOUR TEST


At 2pm on Tuesday the 20th April a group of 51 Drivers (including 14 media, 6 GMSA Engineers, Gerotek Test Drivers and a number of professional drivers) set off on a mission to break a number of existing South African speed and distance records for diesel bakkies over 72 hours. For the mission General Motors nominated 3 Isuzu KB 300 D-TEQ LWB LE bakkies, 2 Isuzu KB 250 D-Teq Extended Cab LE bakkies.

To achieve the goal of exceeding the previous overall distance record at least one of the Isuzu KB300 D-TEQ single cab bakkies was required to average more than 160 km/h, including time in the pits for refuelling, tyre changes (no routine servicing was required as all Isuzu diesel bakkies are serviced at 15000 km intervals). To achieve the goal the drivers worked in shifts with each of them facing an average 2 hours 30 minutes in the car at a time (as per MSA safety regulation).

At the end of the 72 hours the leading KB 300 D-TEQ bakkie had completed 12 243.385km kilometres at an average speed of 170,047 km/h over 72 hours smashing the previous distance record by 722.721 kilometres. The Isuzu KB 300 D-TEQ rewrote the record book for its class and set new overall records for diesel bakkies over the 72 hour endurance event. The KB 250 D-TEQ fared equally well with the KB 250 D-TEQ beating the previous class record of 11 024 km (previously held by a 3.0 litre diesel) by 471 km with a new record distance of 11 495, 567 km.

In the quest for a new set of overall speed and distance records over 72 hours the Isuzu team rewrote15 overall speed and distance records.

“Isuzu’s slogan: ‘Isuzu delivers’ certainly proved true here this week through this event,” says Malcolm Gauld, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at GMSA. “Taking on the challenge of breaking these relatively new 72 hour speed and distance records has allowed us to demonstrate the tough constitution of these bakkies, their efficiency, reliability, and durability under the most arduous conditions,” continued Gauld.

“A fundamental of the record breaking performance of our vehicles was their ability to perform perfectly and efficiently throughout the 72 hours. Any time spent in the pits for refuelling and tyre changes is against the clock with distance lost for every second of down time. The whole record process was observed by MSA (Motorsport South Africa). The record breaking vehicles ran flat out over the 72 hours with out a single fault to provide an emphatic statement of confidence for us and our customers,” concluded Gauld.

STORY AND PICS BY ISUZU/ GM SA