Citroën to lead new-model charge
A summary of recent motoring events and looking ahead to what’s happening in October
From a buck-toothed BMW to an electric Porsche, September had its share of motoring highlights and here’s a brief overview.
The biennial Frankfurt motor show, Europe’s biggest automotive expo, had some key manufacturers absent this year but still staged a number of major new-car reveals.
The big drawcard was the long-awaited new Defender, as offroad-capable as ever but reborn for the digital age with a touchscreen infotainment system that’s capable of receiving over-the-air updates.
That the electric-car age is truly upon us was proven by battery-powered cars that made their debuts in Frankfurt including Porsche’s Taycan sports coupe; Volkswagen’s electric ID 3 hatchback which the brand sees as being as important as the Beetle and Golf were; the Honda E, the production version of Honda’s cute electric city car; and the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS, a precursor to the next-generation S-Class electric limousine.
Mixed in with the battery-powered cars were fire-breathing performers like Lamborghini’s 602kW Sian hybrid, which uses a combination of petrol and electric power to make it the most potent production car yet launched by the Italian stable.
Also unveiled in Frankfurt were the new Hyundai i10 and fifth-generation Opel Corsa, while BMW continued its giant-grille offensive with the buck-toothed Concept 4 which is a possible preview to the next 4 Series Coupe.
We went to the south of France to attend the launch of the McLaren GT, the British firm’s serenely speedy and big-booted grand tourer.
Ferrari unveiled a duo of drop tops: the V8-powered F8 Spider and the V12-engined Superfast.
New cars that went on sale in SA during September included the new Audi A1 hatchback, the Audi Q3 SUV, and the Polo-based VW T-Cross SUV.
Peugeot “re-launched” itself in SA with a bold aim to more than double its market share, and started by introducing its entry-level 108 hatchback and top-of-the-range 5008 SUV.
Toyota SA announced that all its new cars, including Lexus, would from now on come standard with in-car Wi-Fi including 15GB free data as part of the Toyota Connect service.
SA’s latest crime stats were released, revealing that Toyota was the most hijacked brand of car in the country (not surprisingly as Toyota sells the most cars), and Chrysler the lowest.
The Automechanika trade fair took place at Joburg’s Nasrec expo centre, featuring the latest trucks, automotive accessories and logistics solutions.
High-speed endeavours saw the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport smashing the production-car top speed record by achieving 490.484km/h at Germany’s Ehra-Lessien test track.
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso took part in SA’s Lichtenburg 400 offroad race as part of preparations for his Dakar Rally debut next year. The F1 star found it tough going after rolling his Toyota Gazoo Hilux and finishing 16th, but he showed impressive speed.
Local motoring icon Basil Green, father of the fast Perana Fords that dominated local motorsport in the 1960s and 70s, was inducted into the SA Hall of fame
Looking ahead to October, it will be a relatively quiet month in terms of new-vehicle launches after all the major coming-outs took place at the Frankfurt motor show.
BMW is staging the international reveal of its new-generation X6 at the German carmaker’s home in Munich, and our journalist Phuti Mpyane will be there to drive it.
BMW’s third-generation sport activity coupe is larger, has a more aggressive body, and sports an enlarged grille that can be illuminated as an option for the first time on a BMW. All versions have all-wheel drive and active suspension, and the range-topping M50i will be powered by a 390kW, twin-turbo, 4.4l V8.
We will test drive the new Kia Seltos (below Sportage) and Kia Telluride (above Sorento).
Locally the big news in October is the relaunch of Citroën in SA, after the French brand stopped importing vehicles to the country at the end of 2016. Citroën will return with the C3 hatchback and the Aircross compact SUV models.
Road tests to look forward to in Motor News include the recently-updated new Ford Mustang. It’s not the much-talked-about Bullitt version, but the 2.3l convertible, which arrived just in time to welcome a very hot start to spring.
Also on the road test schedule is the Hyundai Tucson Sport with its hotter-looking body kit, the all-new Audi A1 premium compact hatch, the zippy new Suzuki Swift Sport, the new Audi Q3 midsized SUV and the facelifted BMW 7 Series with its giant new grille.
October is Transport Month and we’ll be looking at how the department of transport is dealing with SA’s road carnage, and also at how the newly-implemented AARTO affects you.
In motorsport, Marc Marquez could clinch his sixth MotoGP title as early as this weekend’s Thailand GP, with four rounds to spare. The Honda rider needs to score just two more points than his Ducati rival Andrea Dovizioso to take the championship. Crowd favourite Valentino Rossi hasn’t won a race since the Dutch MotoGP in 2017 and dare we hope that the 40-year-old could stand on top of the podium before the end of the year?
After a difficult start to the season SA’s Brad Binder has taken a pair of Moto2 victories in the last couple of months, boosted by news that he will move up into the top-tier MotoGP category with KTM next year.
In Formula One Lewis Hamilton seems inexorably headed to his sixth world championship after usurping a recently-resurgent Ferrari in last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
The long-awaited mission to set a new world land speed record finally gets underway this month when the Bloodhound rocket-propelled car starts testing at Northern Cape’s Hakskeen Pan.
The bankrupt project was recently rescued by UK entrepreneur Ian Warhurst and the aim is for driver Andy Green to break the 1,000mph (1,610km/h) barrier — thus smashing the existing 1,228km/h land speed record he set in 1997.