RUMOUR HAS IT...
VW unveils new pick-up in New York
Volkswagen used the New York International Auto Show to unveil the second model in its Atlas range
Volkswagen used the New York International Auto Show to unveil the second model in its Atlas range, but this time it’s a pick-up.
Larger than the Amarok, the Tanoak is a concept that Volkswagen wants to use to gauge reaction and decide whether to put it into production. Unlike the ladder-frame Amarok, the concept is more of a lifestyle pick-up and uses the 206kW 3.6l V6 petrol engine from the Atlas. Aimed at the US market, it is the biggest passenger vehicle Volkswagen has created except for its long-wheelbase T6.
Volkswagen SA still has no plans to bring to SA the Atlas, the Tanoak or the other Atlas family member revealed in New York, the Cross Sport.
Maserati continues to develop its Levante SUV with rumours of a GTS still doing the rounds and the likelihood of a facelift later in 2018 or early in 2019.
In the meantime the company has revealed the Levante Trofeo, the most powerful version of the SUV to date. It features a 3.8l twin-turbo petrol motor generating 440kW and 730Nm which together with the Q4 all-wheel drive and eight-speed gearbox enable a claimed 0-100km/h time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of more than 300km/h.
BMW is always testing everything it seems and while the focus might be on new models yet to be unveiled in production form, such as the new Z4/5 and X7, the new 3 Series and 7 Series are quietly being put through their paces around the world.
Codenamed G20, the new G3 should debut before the end of 2018 and show us a slightly more adventurous design as promised by BMW’s design boss, Adrian van Hooydonk. Changes to the new 7 Series are likely to be less adventurous, although our sources say there could be some design cues at the front from the big X7 SUV.
The facelift is early for the model but necessary in the face of the new Audi A8 and Mercedes S-Class. Expect more tech, particularly autonomous driving and more power and efficiency.
Best of the fools
Every year we look out for the best April Fools gags from the automotive industry and while the South African car companies were unusually quiet a few international firms caught our attention.
The best April Fool’s gag is usually the one that’s most plausible and so our top Fool award has to go to Porsche, which announced the next stage of its electric Mission E programme would be a tractor.
Those not au fait with Porsche’s history will be confused, yet the company started out making tractors, so an electric version would make sense. There are already electric tractors in the agricultural sector so why shouldn’t Porsche make one? It has no plans to, of course.
Then there was Skoda which claimed to have found the solution for parents who have to cope with kids in the back seat throwing a tantrum: noise-cancelling headrests. Brilliant! But sadly just a joke.
The company claimed that through an app in the infotainment system of its Karoq crossover, the headrests could instantly detect the start of an argument or tantrum coming from the back seats and cancel out the sound for mum and dad in the front. Let’s hope that some engineer is actually working on making this a genuine option.
Hyundai was a little more obvious with its joke that claimed its new i30N hot hatch had been tested on a new corner of the company’s test track called Cacao corner.
In a statement, Hyundai’s chief materials engineer, Cara Mell, said: "At Hyundai we create almost everything needed to produce our cars, including the steel, the robots, and the ships to transport them. So, it only makes sense that we create our own track-testing surfaces, including the unique butter, milk and cocoa mixture used for Cacao corner. The team of people that develops the mixture is among the most dedicated in the business, but they do tend to go a bit quiet over the Easter period."
Finally, the worst April Fools gag was Elon Musk’s. With speculation mounting that Tesla could face financial trouble in 2018, especially after the 8% drop in its share price after it was lambasted over safety, Musk hit out at the negativity by tweeting on Sunday: "Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt. So bankrupt, you can’t believe it."
A subsequent tweet from Musk said: "Elon was found passed out against a Tesla Model 3, surrounded by ‘Teslaquila’ bottles, the tracks of dried tears still visible on his cheeks."
The same tweet included a picture of the "passed out" Musk and the final statement: "This is not a forward-looking statement, because, obviously, what’s the point?"
Instantly thousands of journalists around the world screenshotted the tweets because, obviously, they might become the point.