The Toyota C-HR gets touched up with a facelift and a new infotainment system. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Toyota C-HR gets touched up with a facelift and a new infotainment system. Picture: SUPPLIED

February 2020 arrived with the local motor industry still licking its wounds from the economic bruises of 2019 and the 8.1% drop in January new-vehicle sales didn’t bode well for the new year.

Moving on despite the bleak outlook, SA manufacturers launched new vehicles by the bundle in the month of love. Toyota SA began early by unwrapping the new Corolla Quest, which is a repurposed previous generation Corolla aimed at bargain-seeking families and of course, the e-hailed taxi industry.

With the backdrop of market depression, Toyota SA CEO Andrew Kirby injected fresh optimism with the announcement of billions in local investment as well as confirming that the company would commence building an all-new but unnamed vehicle at its Durban assembly plant.

Audi SA followed up its late 2019 intro of the new A1 and A7 by launching the new A6 executive sedan, Chinese brand Haval brought out a refreshed H2 compact SUV and Isuzu bolstered its D-Max 250 bakkie range with an automatic transmission.

The McLaren GT is a tourer than can still scorch to over 300km/h. It went on sale in SA during February. Picture: SUPPLIED
The McLaren GT is a tourer than can still scorch to over 300km/h. It went on sale in SA during February. Picture: SUPPLIED

On the sports car front, McLaren SA launched the new GT as a big-booted and more comfortable version of the breed.

Another local newcomer was Renault’s new seven-seater Triber, which seems like it may be a sure-fire seller by the looks of price and practicality, while Mitsubishi enhanced its ASX crossover and Hyundai’s thundering i30N hot hatch finally touched down in SA.

The Renault Triber is a compact seven-seater aimed at the entry-level MPV market. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Renault Triber is a compact seven-seater aimed at the entry-level MPV market. Picture: SUPPLIED

On the international front we went to sample Jaguar’s newly updated F-Type sports coupe in Portugal. Using the same country roads, Porsche also launched its new pair of six-cylinde Macan and 718 Boxster/Cayman GTS models and Motor News was there to get the first driving impressions.

We also got a first taste of the new BMW 2 Series GranCoupe while Aston Martin revealed a roadster version of its gorgeous Vantage coupe.

The Porsche Macan was launched in a sportier GTS derivative. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Porsche Macan was launched in a sportier GTS derivative. Picture: SUPPLIED

In contrast to new beginnings, Mercedes-Benz threw in the towel on its X-Class premium bakkie after disappointing sales.

The Right2RepairSA campaign is smiling after SA’s Competition Commission published draft guidelines which propose that you’re allowed to repair your vehicle at independent workshops without losing your warranty.

It’s no surprise this has vehicle manufacturers in a tizzy and the deadline for comments is March 16.

The Global New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) revealed stark differences in crash safety that can exist between new- and old-generation vehicles in a 56km/h head-on crash between the Nissan NP300 Hadbody and new-generation Nissan Navara.

 As expected, the Hardbody performed significantly worse, results showing the driver in the badly crumpled Hardbody would probably have died, whereas the Navara driver would have walked away.

This sobering test follows transport minister Fikile Mbalula’s recent announcement of the December holiday period road death toll, which showed a 10% drop in fatalities; but 1,617 dead is still unacceptably high.

Also during February, Peugeot-Citroën SA announced Leslie Ramsoomar as its new MD.

From a motorsports perspective, the Formula One circus is readying for a new season as Lewis Hamilton prepares to rewrite a few Schumacher records while yet another South African racer, Jonathan Aberdein, has been signed as a BMW works driver for the 2020 DTM (German touring car) season.

Looking ahead - March

We will bring you first impressions on a number of new SUVs, starting with Toyota’s C-HR crossover which receives an update for 2020.

Also expect a launch drive report of the new Suzuki S-Presso, a new entrant into the budget crossover segment that’s currently contested by Renault’s popular Kwid. Will it offer a more compelling, safer package?

The Suzuki S-presso is a new challenger to the entry-level crossover hatch. It goes on sale in March. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Suzuki S-presso is a new challenger to the entry-level crossover hatch. It goes on sale in March. Picture: SUPPLIED

The new Land Rover Discovery Sport caps the month's new SUV introductions.

Then there will be the local launches of two new speedsters: Ferrari’s all-new F8 Spider which is an open-topped cousin of the sensational F8 Tributo coupe, as well as the new Lamborghini Huracan Evo.

The newest addition in the bull kraal, the Lamborghini Huracan Evo will be launched in SA soon. Picture: SUPPLIED
The newest addition in the bull kraal, the Lamborghini Huracan Evo will be launched in SA soon. Picture: SUPPLIED

Road tests to look forward to in Motor News next month include the Renault Megane RS Cup hot hatch, as well as its budget-conscious cousin, the Renault Kwid Climber.

We also get to spend time in Jaguar’s  potent F-Pace SVR and we also revisit its Range Rover Velar cousin, this time in high-spec SVAutobiography form.

The beautiful Ferrari F8 Spider makes its local debut next month. Picture: SUPPLIED
The beautiful Ferrari F8 Spider makes its local debut next month. Picture: SUPPLIED

We will also get to grips with Suzuki’s Vitara to see how viable an option it is in the bewilderingly crowded crossover segment, while the Mini Clubman Cooper S also arrives to state its more premium case.

You can also look forward to a driving impression of the Lamborghini Urus sports SUV, with a starting price of R4.5m.