Rolls-Royce is in Upington testing the next generation of the superluxury Phantom.    Picture: GERT VAN ROOYEN
Rolls-Royce is in Upington testing the next generation of the superluxury Phantom. Picture: GERT VAN ROOYEN

Last week we reported on how Upington has been invaded by the world’s automotive test engineers and their camouflaged vehicles. It seems that the invasion is continuing, with yet more BMW Group vehicles spotted on the roads of the Northern Cape town.

There is a fleet of BMW X7s being put through their paces ahead of a likely launch in 2017. The new model is the Munich company’s attempt to take on the Mercedes GLS with a vehicle that has seven seats and 7 Series-style luxury. It sits on the 7 Series platform but is rumoured to share platform items with the upcoming Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV.

One of a whole fleet of BMW X7s being put through their paces.   Picture: GERT VAN ROOYEN
One of a whole fleet of BMW X7s being put through their paces. Picture: GERT VAN ROOYEN

Speaking of Rolls, the company is also in Upington testing the next generation of the superluxury Phantom. The new model is set to go on sale early in 2018.

Far from Upington, Audi is testing the next generation of the A6 in Europe. The new model promises some radical design changes from the outgoing version, adopting some cues from the upcoming new A8 and a frontal design that looks set to be inspired by the new Q8. The interior is likely to be similar to the latest Q7 and it will, of course, get a whole load of new connectivity.

Peugeot buys icon

Peugeot has bought the iconic Indian car maker Ambassador. In a demonstration of just how steep the fall has been for Ambassador, once the personal transport of choice for the Indian ruling class, the French manufacturer paid just $12m for its entire operation.

CK Birla Group, which controlled Ambassador’s parent company, Hindustan Motors, sold it after ceasing production of the Ambassador in 2014. Its mainstay in production was based around the Morris Oxford, which predated even the British car industry’s own long decline, but its plant has not produced a new car in three years.

The Ambassador is popular with tourists and taxi drivers.   Picture: NEWSPRESS UK
The Ambassador is popular with tourists and taxi drivers. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK

While PSA, Peugeot’s parent company, hasn’t decided what it will do with its new-found Indian production capacity and fallen brand, it had already signed a joint venture with the Birla Group to use capacity of 100,000 units by 2020.

While the Ambassador remains popular with tourists and taxi drivers in India, politicians and senior government officials now prefer more luxurious, modern SUVs.

PSA was one of the first major companies to enter India when it was opened to foreign investment in the 1990s. But it left in 1997 after a protracted argument with its partner.

The purchase makes it even more ironic that Peugeot used an Ambassador in an international advertising campaign in 2004. You probably remember it: the one in which a guy bashed his Ambassador around until it resembled a Peugeot 206. If you don’t know it, look it up.

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