BMW leads new-model charge in October
A summary of recent motoring events and looking ahead to what’s happening in November
From a bevy of BMWs, to the South African return of a quirky French brand, October was a busy month for the motor industry and here’s a brief overview.
BMW was the most prolific of the brands with several new vehicles unveiled.
We first headed off to Portugal to sample the new 8 Series Gran Coupe, a luxurious and sporting four-door take on the flagship 8 Series range. It shared the stage with the new M8 Coupe and Convertible, with power hiked up to 460kW and 750Nm.
The company also revealed the M8 Gran Coupe, a version of the luxury sedan that competes with the likes of Porsche’s Panamera and Mercedes-Benz GT four door.
The new X5M and X6M also had their first showing and soon enough we were back on international soil to drive the new BMW X6 and X5 PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) in Munich, Germany. Both X5 PHEV and X6 represent astounding enhancements, the green SUV proving quite useable for a range of competencies including 100km of pure electric drive.
No sooner had the plane from Europe touched down on African soil the company was at it again, this time revealing the all-new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, which is a four-door model available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel derivatives and which goes head-to-head with the curved-roof Mercedes-Benz CLA.
Rounding off our international launch schedule was a trip to Monaco for driving impressions of the new Bentley Flying Spur, a luxurious limo that sprints from 0-100km/h in 3.8 sec and has a top speed of 333km/h.
Back home, BMW held its M Festival at Kyalami and introduced cars including the new-generation front-wheel drive 1 Series range.
Overses, Porsche introduced a lower power version of its all-electric Taycan four-door luxury sedan. Toyota also revealed a digitally superior new Yaris which is shorter but roomier than existing models.
Porsche also unveiled the Macan Turbo, the flagship of its medium-sized SUV, and hosted the vehicle’s international launch in Cape Town.
Isuzu uncovered the all-new D-Max bakkie with a raft of enhancements in the cabin and higher power outputs from its engines, and a new electromagnetic rear differential lock. No information of the new Isuzu’s local availability has been shared yet.
Back in SA, Citroën returned to the country after a three-year absence with a model line up comprising the C3 hatchback, C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross.
Mercedes-Benz SA launched the A-Class in sedan and CLA derivatives. The company also introduced the facelifted GLC-Class for people who like to sit higher.
Ford launched a free chrome pack on its Ranger XLS bakkie in SA in a bid to try win some market share from the segment-leading Toyota Hilux, while Isuzu did the same by launching a stylish X-Rider Black version of its D-Max.
Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula announced that the long-awaited Aarto law and its associated licence demerit system would finally go live by June 2020, but Outa and the AA have both criticised the law for being more focused on revenue generation than road safety.
We reported the AA’s findings that more than 90% of South Africans say they are keeping their vehicles for longer due to the current economy, with just over 40% saying they are keeping their cars for between five and 10 years.
With that in mind, we listed the country’s five most affordable sedans that boast the best resale value. According to True Price the VW Polo came out tops by achieving 70.55% of its original list price on auction, ahead of the Toyota Corolla Quest, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, and Suzuki Ciaz.
Also in October, the Bloodhound supersonic car, having been saved from bankruptcy, finally landed in SA to start testing for its attempt at a new land speed record at Northern Cape’s Hakskeen pan.
In a more unusual feat, a new unofficial world record for the longest hearse parade took place in SA when a convoy of 110 cars drove around Kyalami, beating the previous 107-car record set in the Netherlands.
Our road tests covered a mix of different segments. We spent time getting to know the Ford Mustang cabriolet in hushed four-cylinder Ecoboost guise, while even more hushed but far more powerful was the recently facelifted 6.6l V12-engined BMW M760Li.
We took a spin in nine-seater luxury with Toyota’s new Quantum VX, while other cars to come through our road-test programme were the compact new Audi A1, the feisty Suzuki Swift Sport, the beefed-up Hyundai Tucson Sport, and the VW T-Cross compact SUV.
Looking ahead to the rest of November, it will be a relatively quiet international month after most of the hardware was rolled out at September’s Frankfurt motor show, but the motor industry isn’t quite done yet for the year.
Locally there will be new derivatives of the Datsun Go , Renault Kwid and Nissan Micra going on sale, and Mini will launch its fire-breathing JCW Countryman which is the most powerful production Mini yet.
In early December Hyundai SA will unveil its new Venue compact SUV as a direct rival to VW’s recently-launched T-Cross.
Two international motor racing events take place on local soil during the month, the first being the final round of the 2019 World Rallycross championship at Cape Town’s Killarney International Raceway on November 9-10. Racing on a mixture of tar and dirt, Rallycross cars jump and bump their way around a short and compact circuit that enables spectators to view all the action.
On November 23 Kyalami revives the nine-hour race after a 37-year hiatus. Some of the world’s most powerful GT racing cars will be in action including Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Mercedes-AMG, Nissan and Porsche. Fans will have local drivers to root for in the form of Kelvin van der Linde, Jordan Pepper, Andre Bezuidenhout, Franco Scribante and Silvio Scribante.
Road tests in Motor News this month will include the limited-edition Mustang Bullitt that was inspired by the iconic Steve McQueen movie. You can also read evaluations of the Peugeot 108 mini hatch, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan, Aston-Martin DBS Superleggera, and Peugeot 5008.
The age of the electric car — and the EV charging network — is upon us, and we will drive Jaguar’s battery-powered I-Pace SUV from Joburg to Durban to see whether it can make the long trip with just one quick-charging stop in Harrismith.
Ford Versus Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, looks set to be one of the must-see motoring movies of the year. To celebrate its release later this month, Shelby SA has invited us to a track day at Zwartkops where we’ll get to experience an assortment of Shelby cars.