Raptor, Evoque and 7-Series lead new-model charge in May
A roundup of recent motoring events, and looking ahead to what’s happening this month
In our glance at the rear view mirror, here’s a brief overview of some of the motoring highlights we’ve covered in April 2019:
The New York International Auto Show and Auto Shanghai aren’t as well known as shows like Geneva, Detroit or Frankfurt, but still delivered their fair share of exciting automotive fare.
The biennial Auto Shanghai took place from April 18-25 and it alternates with the Beijing Auto Show as China’s biggest automotive showcase.
Making possibly the biggest splash at the show design-wise was the Lexus LM minivan with its giant cheese-grater of a front grille. Love or hate the exterior styling, there's no shortage of luxury inside this opulent seven-seater MPV, including an umbrella-storage compartment just like you find in a Rolls-Royce, an optional mini fridge for the champagne, and reclining rear seats.
The New York show from April 19-28 saw the following major launches:
The Hyundai Venue is the Korean car maker’s new entry-level SUV which is expected to be more affordable than the Kona when it goes on sale in SA late this year or early in 2020. The Venue borrows its slit-eyed headlamps from the Kona and Santa Fe, but has its own mesh-styled, Cadillac-like grille.
The Porsche Speedster, a lightweight cabriolet based on the outgoing 911 range powered by the high-revving naturally-aspirated flat-six 4.0l engine of the GT3; Exactly 1,948 units of the open-top two-seater will be built — that number a nod to the first Porsche 356 Speedster being launched in 1948.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLS, the brand’s largest and most luxurious SUV. Stretched in size, loaded with the latest technology, while remaining as offroad-capable as ever, the latest version of this seven-seater arrives just in time to take on the newly-launched BMW X7 in the super-sized SUV league.
At the show, the Jaguar I-Pace was also announced as the the 2019 World Car of the Year award as voted for by a panel of 86 motoring journalists from around the globe. The electric I-Pace, which recently went on sale in SA, also scooped the world car design and world green car categories. The McLaren 720S got the nod for performance car of the year, while other category winners were the Suzuki Jimny (urban car of the year) and Audi A7 (luxury car of the year).
Back home, the Mercedes A-Class was voted South Africa’s 2019 Car of the Year, as voted by the Guild of Motoring Journalists. It’s only the second Mercedes to win the 34-year-old competition, which this year was sponsored by AutoTrader for the first time.
Back home we saw the following new-vehicle launches:
The newly-updated Ford Ranger double cab line up saw the introduction of powerful new 2.0 turbo diesel engines and ten-speed automatic transmissions.
The BMW 8 Series luxury sports coupe made its SA debut as arguably the German automaker’s most beautiful car. The first variant to reach our shores was the M850i xDrive with 390kW laid down through all-wheel drive.
Simultaneously launched was the all-new BMW Z4 roadster, in sDrive 20i and M40i guises — the latter providing real hair-ruffling pace with its ability to dash to 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds.
The updated Porsche Macan arrived in two petrol models: a 2.0l 185kW version and the Macan S with its 3.0l 260kW engine.
A restyle injects more of the iconic 911 in its design, while chassis tweaks enhance its reputation as one of the sportiest SUVs on the road.
The Mitsubishi Triton was given a bold new look with a "Dynamic Shield" nose, while turf-tackling ability was improved by raising the ground clearance and adding a new off-road mode.
Nissan announced a R3bn investment in its Rosslyn plant to assemble the next-generation Navara bakkie from 2020. The Navara joins the NP200 and NP300 models already being built at the facility, and like those pick-ups it will be sold locally and also exported to 45 pan-African markets.
A one-off Range Rover Sport decked out in Springbok colours was commissioned by the South African Rugby Union as our team gets ready to take on the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.
SA’s Tasmin Pepper was picked as one of 18 drivers, representing 13 nationalities, to compete in the inaugural international W Series racing championship for women. Hailing from Joburg, Pepper (28) is SA’s reigning Volkswagen Polo Cup Masters champion.
The W Series will make history by being the first ever all-female single-seater racing series, and the six-round championship gets underway in Hockenheim, Germany on May 3.
May highlights in Business Day Motor News:
The much-anticipated Ford Raptor will arrive to take its place as flagship of the Ranger double cab line-up. It will wield the new-generation Bi-Turbo 157kW turbo diesel newly added to the range, but will ride on motorsport-derived long-travel suspension. It will also have bolder styling with pumped-out wheel arches, much bigger tyres and a raised ride height.
The new Range Rover Evoque will reach local showrooms with Velar-inspired styling and a choice of two engines: a 132kW diesel and a 183kW petrol. For improved visibility when parking and off-roading, it introduces the exciting new Clearsight Ground View system that effectively makes the front of the vehicle invisible as the display screen shows a virtual picture of the front wheels on the ground.
Opel will launch its new Corsa GSi, a sport luxury hatch moved along by a 110kW 1.4l petrol turbo engine, and priced at R365,900.
Headed for SA in late May or early June is the updated BMW 7 Series with its giant (and we mean giant) new grille, improved sound insulation, and updated technology which includes a digital key that can be programmed for up to five different drivers.
Road tests to look forward to in Business Day Motor News: Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Opel Astra OPC, Porsche Panamera GTS, Toyota Corolla hatch, Mitsubishi Triton, and BMW 320d.
The Jaguar Simola Hillclimb takes place in Knysna this weekend with a collection of old and new exotic cars competing for the annual king of the hill title.
Monster Jam mania has hit SA, with the giant bakkies jumping, ramping and backflipping their way into the hearts of local motorsport fans. Performances took place in Durban on April 20 and Cape Town on April 27, with the final show heading for Johannesburg’s FNB stadium this Saturday.