Volkswagen has revealed this teaser sketch of the new Touareg ahead of its reveal next month.   Picture: VOLKSWAGEN
Volkswagen has revealed this teaser sketch of the new Touareg ahead of its reveal next month. Picture: VOLKSWAGEN

Volkswagen has released a sketch that gives the clearest look yet at what it’s planning for the third-generation Touareg SUV. The three-row Touareg will be revealed at the Beijing motor show next month, to dive back into the heavy-punching fight for large SUVs, swinging away with the likes of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Land Rover’s Discovery.

There’s also the Porsche Cayenne, Audi’s Q7 and its upcoming Q8 and the Bentley Bentayga, all of which share their MLB Evo architecture with the new Touareg.

Whisper has it the flagship’s powertrain will be a mighty V8 twin-turbodiesel for a car that will be about 60mm longer and 25mm wider than the existing model. It is expected to be about 65kg lighter than the outgoing car, so some of the smaller-engined variants should slip well below the 2,000kg barrier and towards 1,950kg.

The big breakthrough, though, will be inside the car. The top-spec versions will be fitted with what Volkswagen calls its Innovision Cockpit. While some believe that to be a new name for its current Active Info Display, our sources insist the Innovision Cockpit will be a curved glass touchscreen that runs up to 28 inches wide. If accurate, that will mean the instrument cluster and the infotainment screens will have merged, rather like the screens in the S and E-Class Mercedes-Benzes, but with a curve to make the apps and infotainment more easily accessible to the driver.

The new Touareg will sit above the Arteon (coming to SA in May) in both price and size, though the sedan will remain the brand’s style leader.

Sources insist other engines include 3.0l V6 petrol and diesel power, plus a variant of the 4.0l, Audi-developed twin-turbo petrol motor that powers the Cayenne S and the Q7.

It will also have access to technologies such as active anti-roll bars, active rear-wheel steering and three-chamber air suspension systems. It will be capable of Level 3 self-driving, though Volkswagen has warned that while the hardware will be ready to go at the start, the country-to-country legislation won’t be. So, it’s at the Ready, Set, Wait stage.

Maybach look for S

Mercedes is giving the Maybach S-Class more Maybachness.    Picture: DAIMLER
Mercedes is giving the Maybach S-Class more Maybachness. Picture: DAIMLER

Since the demise of the standalone Maybach models, Mercedes has been putting the Maybach badge on the top models of the S-Class range. Now the company has revealed it will offer some differentiation, with Maybach models getting a more traditional and unique grille, as well as two-tone heritage paintwork. There will also be additional Maybach touches to the interior when the models arrive here later this year.

All of this is happening while Mercedes is readying the next generation S-Class which will launch in 2020. The new S will be larger than the current model, in part to accommodate more electric and hybrid technology but also to increase the interior space. The next generation will also get even more self-driving capability taking it beyond Level 2 to a point where it will almost be fully autonomous-capable.

Still with Mercedes and the company has been testing its new four-door AMG GT model around the world, including, bizarrely, Witbank in Mpumalanga. The new four-door variant will be launched at next month’s Geneva motor show and looks likely to remain close to the original concept.

Prototypes of the Mercedes AMG GT four-door have been testing around the world.   Picture: DAIMLER
Prototypes of the Mercedes AMG GT four-door have been testing around the world. Picture: DAIMLER

BMW refreshes SUV

BMW has revealed details of the next generation X4. Essentially the coupe-like version of the new X3, it will go on sale in SA in the third quarter of 2018. Effectively a more design-focused version of the X3, the second generation X4 will be bigger than the original, growing 81mm to measure 4,752mm from bumper to bumper.

It should also be bigger inside, with a 54mm stretch in the wheelbase to 2,864mm and BMW has added 37mm to the overall width (now 1,918mm) as well.

The new BMW X4 will arrive in SA in the third quarter of 2018.   Picture: BMW
The new BMW X4 will arrive in SA in the third quarter of 2018. Picture: BMW

The overall theme is a more mature design, adopting the hexagonal wheel arches of its larger siblings.

It also comes with an optional 2.2-inch touchscreen display on the car key. A technology that made its debut on the 7 Series, the key can be used to lock and unlock the car, close or open its windows or crank up the heating whenever it’s not being used for simply showing off.

Focus on quality

BMW will focus on substance with the next generation 3 Series as it aims to regain ground it has lost to the Mercedes C-Class. Due on sale in 2019, the new 3 could be revealed towards the end of 2018. Expect to see a model with sharper lines and a sportier stance with our sources saying its time for the design to move on. Sitting on the company’s CLAR architecture for rear-wheel drive models, our insiders have told us the new model will be more about character, substance and quality, so expect some of the cheap items in the current model like the nasty air vent adjusters to be replaced by more solid items.

Stratos to return

The Stratos is coming back but it won’t be coming from Lancia.
The Stratos is coming back but it won’t be coming from Lancia.

Everyone loved the Lancia Stratos. Well, everyone except Lancia, because it never built a second generation. And look where that got them. Lancia is now a dead-brand walking, selling just one model (based off a Fiat) and almost all of those sales are in Italy.

So it won’t be Lancia that builds the reborn Stratos, but Manifattura Automobili Torino (MAT), an Italian sports car maker, and it will debut at next month’s Geneva motor show. It is expected to cost more than half a million euros.

While Lancia built 492 Stratos coupes from 1973 to 1978, MAT will build and sell only 25 of the homage cars, with a range of different chassis tunes, a GT racer and a high-riding Safari Rally version.

SA Car of the Year is …

The Mazda CX-5. Actually it isn’t, but in a bizarre marketing move, Mazda Southern Africa announced this week that it has voted the CX-5 as the Mazda 2017 SA Car of the Year winner. Right then. In other news Motor News is the 2018 Publication of the Year, as voted for by … the Motor News team. Well, why not?

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