10 Cars That Should Come To SA

You have to admit that recently the SA car market has been shaping in a rather incline manner whereby like the rest of the world, the popularity of SUVs has garnered the space and suddenly caught the attention of buyers. We’re seeing new vehicle nameplates that we have never heard of and those we never thought would land in SA. Take for instance Haval. This is a carmaker that was just founded less than 10 years ago and is already making moves in terms of sales and proving that brand loyalty is not the major factor in having a successful venture.

In the last four years, less than 20 unprecedented new models have been introduced in South Africa and that doesn’t sound enough given the number of good cars that already exist or are currently in the testing phase. This had me wondering which cars that we are at present not getting and should be getting because they could fit the bill in our market. Of course, some may not fully meet our requirements but surely, they could be pardoned. Please note that these are cars that were introduced in recent years.

Kia K5

We know that sedans are a dying breed in our market with examples such as the Volkswagen Arteon, Polo Sedan (AW sixth generation) and Hyundai Elantra that have exited quietly. Now we are left with compact executive sedans that cost a fortune. The 2022 Mercedes Benz C-Class will start at R856 080, that’s a bit comical and it is without any options. Some are looking for a premium feeling car and not everyone is prepared to settle for an SUV and that’s where I believe the K5 GT-Line enters the conversation. Hideous is not a word I’d use to describe the styling because it looks stunning. The equipment fitted is brilliant as well with things like a digital instrument cluster, 12-speaker Bose audio system, leather seats, plush interior materials, and various safety assists like Smart Cruise Control and Surround View Monitor. Most reviewers state that it is great to drive and with the 217 kW 2.5L turbocharged engine, it is marvelous. Price wise in SA would be looking at around R500 000, a bargain.

Tesla Model 3

The K5 is popular in the US, so is the Model 3 but it is much, much popular by a mile. Elon Musk’s best-selling electric car with a minimalist exterior and interior design would be a refreshing addition to our market. Despite the substandard build quality, it has been around for a long time and will fly by easily with sales. There has been word since 2019 that Tesla might be introduced soon in SA and we believe that 2022 and 2023 would be great years to land. That’s in line with Audi and Mercedes Benz planning to introduce various electric models since our infrastructure is now fit to accommodate them.

Ford Focus ST & Fiesta ST

It still baffles us that Ford decided not to bring the current Focus and Fiesta, even the performance variants due to the admiration of crossovers and the quality of our fuel. The second reason I’m not exactly in the know of it but that is what they stated. The fourth-generation Focus ST boasts a 2.3-litre turbocharged engine with 276 hp (206 kW) mated to a 6-speed manual and it is also available with a seven-speed automatic transmission, something South Africans have been longing for. The smaller Fiesta ST has a 197 hp (147 kW) turbo 3-cylinder engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox, a nifty package. These cars would be perfect to rival the current Golf 8 GTI and facelifted Polo GTI, as they have in the past.

Volkswagen Golf 8 R Estate

We have the Golf 8 GTI and the Golf 8 R is coming soon, why isn’t there an estate version of the latter for us? I’ll tell you why. South African do not like station wagons/estate cars. There is not even a need for them or even a sense of questioning why they are not available for purchase, apart from petrolheads who desire them. Imagine an even more practical, 235 kW Golf 8 R to use on a school run and as well as taking it to drag races on the weekend, the possibilities are endless. And it would be a perfect alternative to fast SUVs.

Mazda CX-9

Speaking about SUVs, the CX-9 immediately came into mind. Not that it is performance-oriented because it isn’t but for the fact that it would fit well in our market. The Hyundai Palisade recently launched in South Africa and so far, it is receiving positive feedback plus it is priced well. Like the CX-9 it has 7 seats, has four-wheel drive, decent towing capability, it’s spacious and drives well according to reviews. Already the CX-3 and CX-5 have proven that Mazda can provide good SUVs and the CX-9 with its charming charisma can solidify its stature if ever it comes this side.

Nissan Versa

Now we shift to the budget savvy segment and it’s safe to say that we already have a lot of models, not much space left in it but we can at least squeeze the Versa in. You know it as the Almera and yes, this is the new one and the reason why it is on the list is one, it is a sedan… we need more of those and two, it is a bargain. Challenging the Kia Pegas, the Versa would cost +/- R200 000 if brought to our shores. The car has a TFT LCD touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android, LED lights, Keyless Entry, and some leatherette surfaces in the interior. It’s essentially a Micra Sedan and the Micra has already shown that it has a good engine and a good chassis, shouldn’t be a drag to drive. And did I mention that it looks gorgeous? Because it does.

Honda Accord

I am still furious that a car such as the Accord is not for sale locally. It is one of the best, if not the best, sedans in the world. It looks bold, attractive, and sells really well globally. The name dates back to 1976 and it became popular immediately, even today and remains a trusted buy thanks to good old-fashioned Japanese reliability. It was once sold in SA until it got discontinued in 2016 due to the drop in sales but the new one should convince local customers otherwise.

Hyundai i30

The only version of the i30 we’re getting is the fully-fledged N model. But what about the normal variant? The C-Segment models are experiencing a decline in popularity and Volkswagen hasn’t brought the normal Golf 8 yet, just only the GTI. That could be the reason why Hyundai didn’t bring the i30 and also, the new Astra is rumoured that it won’t come to SA. That’s disappointing because hatchbacks are still very much loved by South Africans. Maybe if car manufacturers bring the newer generations of these hatchbacks, it would revive this segment.

Dodge Challenger and Charger

This sounds like a wild request and one that will never be heard by Stellantis but imagine being able to purchase a 700 hp+ 6.2-litre supercharged V8 muscle car because it seems like the Americans are having a splendid time. We already have the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk with the same engine and it is pretty rapid in pace. Plus, there a two imported Dodge Demons looming in South Africa and the reception that they are receiving has been pretty well. There are right-hand drive Hellcats available and we need Dodge to think about the Southern Hemisphere.

BMW 3 Series Touring and practically every Station Wagon

We have already mentioned the Golf R estate and now this is a plea for car manufacturers to consider bringing wagons. The only brand-new ones we have are the Audi RS6 Avant and the Volvo V90 Cross Country. There are several ones that would be great for the local market such as the BMW M340i xDrive Touring, Volvo V90 R-Design, Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S shooting brake, Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5 Series Touring and the E63 S Wagon. The introduction of these models could put us in line of receiving the upcoming BMW M3 G80 Touring if it hasn’t been announced for us yet.

The Future Of Mercedes Benz Is Solidified As Several Electric Vehicles Are Revealed

The Stuttgart enterprise has delivered on their promise of showcasing several new models in the month of September. This includes a hybrid performance car, some internal combustion vehicles and several full electric cars. The latter models are the ones that made the headline recently with two production ready EVs and two concepts that are yet to be revealed in their official production skin. The EQ brand is gradually introducing the future of Mercedes Benz models with some taking the shape of the existing fossil fuel-powered line-up like how the EQA and EQB did with their design. There are already five different EQ models and two more are about to join gang by the end of this year.

The first one will be the EQS 53 AMG which introduces itself as the first-ever full electric AMG model. This is a first in the history of this brand and it teases that most of the upcoming EQ models will each get an AMG variant. The question is, will it be able to carry the AMG nameplate well and deliver on the familiar athleticism? Well, they are banking on the EVA2 group platform to provide the accustomed performance of a typical AMG model but that will obviously not come with its standout character which is sound because there is no engine.

They say they have taken care of that aspect with a feature that will pipe engine-like noise into the cabin through speakers and those ‘noises’ have specific titles namely Authentic and Performance, how ironic is that. It will certainly not put the driver off the idea of not having an engine in a performance car and like all things that came with electric vehicles, soon people will get used to it.

Moving on to the specifications of the EQS 53 you’ll find that it has two electric motors with one on each axle and together they produce a total of 658 hp (484 kW) and 950 Nm of torque. That can be increased to 761 hp (560 kW) and 1020 Nm of torque by ticking the Dynamic Plus package on the options list. Full power is accessed through Race Start mode in boost function but it’s only available when there is 80% of battery power and you can be sure that it will do 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds with a top speed of 250 km/h.

The second EV model that made an appearance is the EQE which is sized to align with the normal E-Class. You can also think of it as the electric version of the E-Class and it is marginally smaller than the EQS. This electric executive sedan is set to rival the upcoming Audi A6 e-tron and occupy that space just like how the petrol-powered version would. It has a traditional boot lid unlike the hatchback-like boot found on the EQS and it also has a distinctive headlight design. However, it retains the bow-like design, 19 to 21-inch aero-purpose wheels, a Hyperscreen interior that consists of three screens on the dash just like the EQS. The platform it’s sitting on has dual motors powered by a 90 kWh usable battery pushing 228 hp (215 kW) and 530 Nm of torque, and 660 kilometres of range is promised on a full charge.

Now we shift into the not so distance future of this sub-brand with a concept based on one of the most iconic Mercedes Benz models. It’s called the EQG and it is evidently based off the G-Wagon. Rumours have been circulating for years that a possible electric G-Class is in works and this concepts clearly confirms that as it is nearly production ready in this form. It visually looks like it but this is drizzled with LED lighting all over including the front black panel grille, the side doors and the fenders, the front and rear end of the roof rack. It is so typical of them to do this to a G-Wagon, can’t even complain because I’ve seen worse.

That being said, they did not hesitate to showcase those 22-inch polished aluminium wheels which are shining way more than the LEDs. The rear ditches the spare wheel in favour of square shaped, illuminated lockable box that looks like a wall box. They’ve state that one of the most notable things about a G-Class is its ability to go off roading which is why they’ve stuck with the ladder frame chassis with independent front and rear suspension, not that is something customers are looking forward to but such traditions must be carried on otherwise.

Rounding off the unveilings is the Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV concept, the first-ever full electric Maybach model. Why an SUV? I don’t know but what I can tell you is that there is an EQS SUV expected in 2022 and it will be based on the modular architecture for luxury and executive class electric vehicles from Mercedes Benz. This Maybach variant won’t be easily confused for a standard EQS SUV due to the two-tone paint, the big grille and the front Maybach writing.

With a Maybach model, you’re sure to experience a quiet and smooth ride, except that without the engine it will establish itself as an even more silent car. And what’s more with the sub-brand’s tradition is designing an exquisite interior that provides a lounge experience with a high-end rear seat entertainment. This concept’s cabin looks much like the one found in the Vision EQS Concept. The centre console runs from the front to the rear and it appears as if its floating.

The Hyperscreen has made its way into the concept and it will likely be featured on the production version, it just makes the inside feel more special. Make way for this because it will surely eat up the kilometres, 600 of them to be exact.

Now that we all have these models, all the specifications revealed and all the upcoming models confirmed, what does this mean for the future of the automaker? The Mercedes EQ brand is a separate entity for now meaning the ICE vehicles are still safe and will continue to live on as sales are strong. But with the recent announcement that there are plans to ditch sales of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles by 2030, it is starting to look vague for any Mercedes Benz model with an engine. Development on engines has been halted and the focus is now on electric cars so that firmly confirms that the end of this century long era is coming to an end soon.

Source: Mercedes Benz Press Releases

The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E-Performance Revealed With Too Much Power

The Mercedes-AMG E-Performance division which was first announced with the introduction of the upcoming Mercedes-AMG One, has revealed the brand’s first ever hybrid performance model. This is something similar to the Porsche E-hybrid variants and it is meant to rival the Stuttgart adversary. However, its purpose is solely to showcase the abilities of a hybrid powertrain in the performance aspect. Back in April, AMG revealed two hybrid powertrains. One is consists of a 4-cylinder engine and the other is a V8 engine, the AMG GT 63 S E-Performance automatically receives the latter given that the model it is based on has an 8-cylinder block.

We’ll jump in to the figures straight away because that is the talking point of this reveal. The 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine is mated to a 150 kW electric motor and in total it produces 843 hp (620 kW) and 1400 Nm of torque sent to all four wheels via the 4Matic+ system. That translates to a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 2.9 seconds and reaching 0-200 km/h in less than 10 seconds, with a top speed of 316 km/h. This is achievable thanks to the instant torque produced by the electric motor and it starts by sending most of the power to the rear wheels, then to the fronts when traction is required.


The type of motor used is a permanently excited synchronous variant and to explain its workings in simple terms would be by saying that it relies on magnets to turn the rotor, which spins at the same speed as the motor’s internal rotating magnetic field, giving it the ability to control the power factor. The electric motor is situated on the rear axle and it puts weight on the axle to improve handling on the backend of the car.


The electric motor’s 150 kW peak output is only available for ten seconds acting as an extra boost during launch control and thereafter is 70 kW continuous output. That’s made possible through the two-speed gearbox with the first gear used for going off the line and the second gear engaging at speeds from 140 km/h and beyond. The 6.1 kWh battery pack powering the electric motor weighs 89 kilograms and provides a range of 12 km on electric power alone and can reach speeds of up to 130 km/h.


The regenerative braking system has levels from 0 to 3 to recuperate energy during braking. When the driver selects the level 3 setting, they will be able to accelerate and brake with only one pedal whilst feeding up to 100 kW power back to the batteries. This creates an easy driving experience which may feel weird at first and take time to get used to.

There is not much to say about the exterior look because this comes in the facelifted package which includes a redesigned front apron and new 19 to 21-inch wheels designs with aero-purpose optional wheels on offer. The E-Performance badging is on the front fenders next to the gills and the ‘S’ badge is in red and next to the GT 63 S badge. The interior features a new double spoke AMG steering wheel and the latest MBUX infotainment system. The overall look is quite subtle and it will be hard to differentiate it from the normal variant when spotting it on the road but there is square cut out for the charging port on the rear bumper positioned on the right side and that could make it easy to spot it.


We can expect more models to be launched under the E-Performance brand and those that have been already confirmed are the C63e and the S63e AMG.

Source: Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E-Performance Press Release

Audi RS3 Unveiled In An Aggressive Look

And the hottest Audi hatch has finally revealed all its might and taking the charge to the Mercedes-AMG A45 S. Although it doesn’t pack more power than its rival, the main aim was to improve on its dynamics rather than the brawniness. It bears the 2.5 TSFI heart that beats with a 1-2-4-5-3 sequence which returns 394 hp (294 kW) and a maximum torque output of 500 Nm, 20 Nm more than the previous model. The power is shifted through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and delivered to all four wheels via the Quattro system. As a result, it goes from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds and it has a top speed of 250 km/h. There is an option to go flat out at 280 km/h or even go as high as 290 km/h when you tick the dynamic package option.

The engineers have integrated something they call ‘Torque splitter’ and what that does is increase the drive torque to the outer rear wheel with the higher wheel load in order to reduce understeer, something that has been haunting the RS3 for a long time. This feature is also used to enable the car to drift via the drift mode button but they’d rather call it ‘RS Torque Rear’. The exhaust note is well-taken care of with the use of a variable flap control system that opens and closes the valves depending on the selected drive mode.

The various drive modes include comfort, auto, dynamic (sport), RS individual and efficiency (eco). As for the suspension, it has been calibrated for an even sportier setup than the S3 models as it sits 10 millimetres lower and features new shock absorbers and a valve system unique to the RS3. It can be had with adaptive damper control as an option and that individually adjusts each shock absorber to suit certain road conditions. The front wheels have an additional 1-degree of negative camber to improve cornering. There are six-piston steel brakes as standard, the carbon-ceramic brakes are optional.

The aim of the exterior look was to make it as distinctive as possible and recognizable as an RS model. To set it apart from the Audi S3, the front has a single-frame blacked out surround with a honeycomb grille, larger side air intakes and LED headlights with dynamic turn signals as standard. If you want the lights to do a dancing sequence when you unlock the car, then the Matrix headlights can be optioned and they also have a checkered flag look. The front axle track is 33 millimetres wide and the rear axle track is 10 millimetres wide.

Moving to the side, there are 19-inch 10 Y-spoke wheels as standard. There are sportier 5 Y-spoke wheels with RS branding as an option, even have the brake calipers painted and wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres. The rear has an RS-specific bumper with an aggressive diffuser and traditional oval tailpipes. Two RS exclusive colours have been added which are Kyalami Green and Kemora Gray.

The cabin sees a 12.3-inch virtual cockpit plus display placed in front of the driver that can be used to view the map, change the graphics, view lap times and g-forces and optionally have the rpm reading in an RS Runaway design. In the centre is a 10.1-inch touch display that is not only used for infotainment purposes but also shows coolant, engine and oil temperatures. The instrument panel is in carbon fibre, the RS sport seats feature an RS embossed logo and optionally can be covered in Nappa leather with RS honeycomb stitching and glossy black, red or green contrasting stitching. The leather steering wheel has been designed with a 3-spoke look, a 12 o’clock stripe and has an RS mode button.

The Audi RS3 is expected to arrive in Europe in mid-July 2021 and with an expected price tag of 60 000 euros. That is about a million rands and it puts it at a very expensive level.

Source: Audi RS3 Sportback and Sedan Press Release

Aston Martin’s V8 Hybrid Valhalla Revealed

In the era of culminating the bond of road cars with Formula One technology, Aston Martin breeds two, not so distinctive, supercars with the one just revealed edging towards the hypercar form. The Valkyrie is purely hypercar spec and the Valhalla is dubbed the baby version with a mid-engine configuration and the application of new components in the Aston Martin model range, which will see more mid-engine cars being created. The Valhalla sits on a new hybrid powertrain that consists of two electric motors and a V8 engine.

Borrowed from the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine with a flat-plane crankshaft setup is said to be even faster and responsive than the one in the Vantage. It revs up to 7 200 rpm and should produce 740 hp (552 kW) with all of it going to the rear wheels. Right next to the engine and giving a helping hand is a 150 kW battery hybrid system that uses two electric with each mounted on either axle and alone, the system contributes 201 hp (150 kW).

The car is able to move backward on electric power with the use of e-reverse that has been integrated with the 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, unique and a first for Aston Martin. It is able to reach speeds of up to 130 km/h with a range of 15 kilometres in EV mode. Normally, the electric power is split between the front and rear axle but can be fully delivered to the rear wheels when the instantaneous torque of the electric motor kicks in. Overall, the power output is 950 hp (708 kW) and 1000 Nm of torque, pushing the Valhalla to a top speed of 330 km/h and a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 2.5 seconds.

They are targeting a dry weight of less than 1550 kilograms given the fact that hybrid components are heavy and to combat that was to use a carbon fibre tub for the chassis and including a lightweight exhaust system that has active exhaust valves. Mounted directly into the chassis is the Push rod front suspension with springs and dampers right off a Formula One car. It is ideal for high-speed cornering and stability and limiting body roll and with the aid of 600 kilograms of downforce being generated at speeds of 240 km/h, it will surely gain pace in the corners for sure.

The Adaptive Spool Valves Damper units allow for an adjustable ride and it is tuned with a front axle lift mechanism located in front of the car. It has electric power steering and carbon-ceramic brakes with brake-by-wire, another page taken off a Formula One Car.

The exterior sports a proud British Green colour with the front having a large Aston Martin styled grille positioned as low as possible. The side features 20-inch wheels on the front and 21-inch wheels on the rear, a sculptured profile for aerodynamic purposes and the roof features a scoop that feeds air into the engine. The rear is dominated by a large diffuser, there are twin exhausts sticking out where a windshield should’ve been placed and the wing looks to be fixed.

Inside there are two sport seats that are fixed and cannot be adjusted, only the steering wheel and pedals can be moved. A central touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is offered, as well as dual-zone air condition. Safety features integrated into the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) include auto emergency braking, front collision warning, active cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and a rear-view parking camera with a surround-view being an option.

There is news that another mid-engine entry-level supercar is coming from the manufacturer.

Source: Aston Martin Valhalla Press Release

Hyundai Showcases Their Hottest Elantra N

In today’s article of cars that we’ll never get to see in South African is this hot Korean sedan that bears the fully-fledged N badge. Through the observation of the N-Line Elantra’s popularity and how the customers praised its warm-like performance capabilities, it was ideal and obvious that the 2.0-litre turbopetrol 4-cylinder will see its way into the engine bay. It doesn’t come alone as there are two transmissions to choose from. Various performance upgrades that start with the letter N have been integrated to enhance the way the car feels, which falls into a territory facing the likes of the Civic Type-R.

What it needs to stand a chance against the established pack is 280 hp (209 kW), it has that. A sophisticated front-wheel drive system coupled with an electronic limited-slip differential; it has that as well but they prefer to call it N Corner Carving Differential. The package also includes a variable exhaust valve system and launch control as standard. What’s also as standard is a 6-speed manual gearbox, the optional 8-speed wet dual-clutch gearbox is intertwined with the N Grin Shift which can increase boost pressure resulting in an instant power increment to 286 hp (213 kW), only lasts for 20 seconds though.

That mere push improves the 0-100 km/h sprint time to just 5.3 seconds and limits the top speed to 250 km/h. The DCT gearbox also comes with N Power Shift and N Track Sense Shift. Another N feature, debuting with the Elantra is the Integrated Drive Axle (IDA) and it helps with weight reduction by 1.7 kilograms as the driveshaft, wheel hub and bearing have bonded and that’s beneficial to cope with high lateral G-forces. The engine has an improved intake system that provides better engine response and boosts continuous power delivery.

For the folks who are wondering about the exhaust note, the N sound equalizer has been included and it is the equivalent of BMW piping fake engine noise into the cabin. It’s not all bad as the sounds are actually satisfying given the fact the inside of the car might be too insulated or its EU regulations reducing the engine sounds through their particulate filters. There are 360 millimetres brake discs and a cooling hole with a brake air guide that helps to improve brake cooling.  They’ve added four-point strut rings and rear stiff bars to strengthen body rigidity and improve the chassis structure.

On the surface of the car are typical exterior sporty amplifications and most notably are the 245-size Michelin PS4S tires wrapping 19-inch wheels. The front end sports a distinctive pattern on the black grille with the LED headlights shaped towards it. The side air intakes are surrounded by the matte piece. The lip spoiler has a red accent which can be seen in other bits of the exterior such as the side skirts, rear diffuser and brake calipers. The rear captures the trend of a light bar joining the taillights and above it is a sporty boot spoiler. Below are two huge exhaust tailpipes that will crackle and pop whenever you let your foot off the throttle.

The interior accentuates a sporty atmosphere with the sport seats, leather stitched steering wheel, and blue accents all over. The 10-inch infotainment touchscreen has been set up specifically for Hyundai N models and it shows vital performance information such as oil and coolant temperature levels, torque and turbo pressure plus a lap timer. The G-force reading, RPM, torque output are analysed and displayed on the 10-inch digital instrument cluster but can also be read via the smartphone, and above all of this is a head-up display.

Source: Hyundai Elantra N Press Release

New Opel Astra Striking A Daring Look

There comes a model with a legendary name that seems to have fallen off in the South African market with newer generations. Not referring to sales but the prominence of popularity amongst the mouths of consumers because cars such as the Volkswagen Golf are going strong, at least with the GTI. But still, with the unruffled talk of the Astra name in our market, it remains Opel’s best-selling vehicle to date. Now that the company sits under the Stellantis Group, it is starting to shift towards a new age of identity with regard to electrification and design.

The whole empire of these carmakers is changing and adapting to what the market would be interested in. In the case of the new Astra, it’s the goodies that will be shared with it such as the PSA EMP2 platform, technological features and new engine options. They keep adding the word “electrification” in the press release which is in reference to the Plug-in hybrid option that will be available. It might also be a hint that it will be available as an electric vehicle in future.

Design

The new design language is what they call “Vizor” and it first debuted with a concept car that has the same name, then it was officially revealed in production skin with the Grandland in June. One way to describe this is ‘bold’, a bold look that actually works even at first glance. Its notable design aspect can be caught on the front end that sports a single piece panel encasing the new Adaptive Intelli-Lux LED Pixel lights and the Opel Blitz logo. Below is a functional radiator grille with side plates that have LED fog lights.

The side profile is not on the offensive side of one’s gaze but remains minimal only with an aggressive crease on the lower part of the door panels. It even reminds you of the Peugeot 308 which now is its cousin and will share certain parts with it, even the design influence and that is not a bad thing as current Peugeot models look really good. There is an option of a two-tone colour paint and this black and yellow combo work really well.

Moving to the rear end, there is a clear scent of a Golf 8 styling but it blends well with the slim taillights and the subtle sloping roofline. The Astra nameplate is spaced across the boot lid and above it is the Blitz logo that operates as a tailgate latch opener. Again, taking a page out of the German rival which isn’t a bad thing, leaves everything perfectly concealed on the surface.

The car is slightly larger than its predecessor, as it is 4 millimetres longer, 51 millimetres wider, 15 millimetres lower and the wheelbase has increased by 12 millimetres.

Engines

There are various powertrain options to choose from with petrol and diesel variants being announced alongside a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engines that we suspect will be offered are a 1.2-litre turbopetrol 3-cylinder, a 1.6-litre petrol 4-cylinder and a 1.5-litre diesel 4-cylinder with the power output varying from 110 hp (81 kW) to 130 hp (96 kW). A new hybrid powertrain will be offered with one of the engine options, taking the total output to 225 hp (165 KW) and it will only be available with the automatic transmission. The hybrid platform has a 12.4 kWh lithium-ion battery powering an 81 kW electric motor and it has a claimed 50 kilometres of range on electric power alone.

Interior

The first thing you’ll notice is the dual-screen set up with both digital screens measuring at 10 inches in size for both the infotainment system and instrument cluster, all in a panel with a high gloss surface. It adds to the flush cabin design that is simple yet interesting to look at. It will be available with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The new AGR seats are wrapped in Nappa leather, have ventilation and heating with a massaging function, and they say that the seats will offer not only a comfortable ride but also an ergonomic experience that should calm your body muscles. The boot space is 422 litres.

Safety features include rear-cross traffic alert, long-range blind-spot detection, active lane positioning and a Stop & Go function in traffic. All these features are aided by four body cameras, five radar sensors and ultrasonic sensors.

There are rumours of an OPC version on the horizon and it will be hybridized with an expected output of 220 kW and all-wheel drive. The new Astra will launch in the European market in early 2022 and unfortunately, it won’t come to South Africa.

Source: Opel Astra Press Release

Is Dodge Making An Electric Car?

An unusual announcement has come from Stellantis, the owners of Dodge, that an EV muscle car is on the way, due in 2024. That is something that even ordinary folks cannot quite imagine because whenever the word ‘muscle’ is mentioned in conjunction with ‘car’, you start to think of a high-powered V8 vehicle. And it’s crazy that this will be an imminent change from large displacements to none at all because we are used to the ways of a car manufacturer gradually reducing the engine size until there is no choice but to electrify the model.

A slogan debuted for Dodge’s electrified future which goes like, “Tear up the streets… Not the planet” and the CEO of Dodge added that the brand will not sell electric cars but eMuscles. So, it is quite possible that the successor of the Challenger and Charger model will be an electric vehicle with a Mopar stature.

A video was released at the presentation that was given on the 8th of July and it showed a glimpse of a concept car that was doing a four-wheel burnout which is so Dodge-like. I mean yes, EVs are taking over, and it’s not all that bad for Dodge to adapt to this transition in the auto industry but it will be a bit weird to see it happening because what defines a muscle car is its V8 motor and the sound.

At least create a separate, powerful electric Dodge model and keep the ICE variants around for a couple more years. The merger with the PSA group has unraveled some changes that will take place and it has prioritized EVs at best. We shall wait it out and see whether this decision will make sense when a first look at the EV Challenger moniker arrives.

The Lightweight Lotus Emira Emerges

So, it has been stated that this will be the last internal combustion engine vehicle by Lotus and after this, they are promptly shifting to an all-electric lineup as part of the carmaker’s future endeavours. It is quite sad to see but after 70 years of producing staggering sports cars that were quite unique with their lightweight philosophy, it is commendable that they end the era with a mid-engine, performance car that should keep their fanbase at bay whilst they get used to the fact of imminent electrification.

The part that surprises us the most is the segment it is placed in. Yes, surely the specs put it right there in the sports car criteria but this looks more upmarket, closely to supercar territory. Lotus cars are known for being small in size but this looks slightly bigger. Looking at the Evora you’d clearly say that it looks like a Lotus but when you gaze upon the Emira, you’d say, “yeah that’s a Lotus but holy Moses it looks exotic!”, and it will cost just under 60 000 pounds for the base model. Kudos to the designers, excellent job and dare I say they also made the right decision to make use of the M139 2.0-litre engine as part of a technical deal with Mercedes-AMG. It should make up for a great selection alongside the familiar V6 engine which will debut with the First Edition model.

Design

It may be that the only major component that is not new on the Emira is the V6 engine, the chassis however is all brand new. Dubbed the Lotus Sports Car Architecture, it is a lightweight bonded aluminium chassis that still aligns with the “simplify, then add lightness” notion. Weighing just 1405 kilograms in its lightest form makes it even lighter than its nearest rival, a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. It’s also significantly smaller with dimensions measuring at 4412 millimetres of length, 1895 millimetres of width, 1225 millimetres of height and 2575 millimetres of the wheelbase.

It carries the new design language, first showcased with the Evija and the prominent aspects are the vertical LED headlights which are standard, a wing-inspired twin blade design on the front end, a sculptured section on the side profile which runs along the door and leads the airflow towards the intake ahead of the rear wheel. This not only looks good but acts as a method to provide cooling air for the engine. The rear is dominated by the Lotus badge which sits quite visible and in-between the C-shaped LED taillights that are linked by a slimline brake light. There are exit vents for air at each end from the wheel arch and the twin exhaust tailpipes are placed with an air diffuser underneath.

In regards to the wheels, they will all be available in 20-inch size and wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport tyres as standard. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres come as standard when you option the Lotus Drivers Pack which also comes with sport mode function and launch control.

Engines

As mentioned before, Mercedes-AMG will be supplying the most powerful 2.0-litre turbopetrol 4-cylinder in the world to Lotus to make use of it in the Emira. The engine will come jointly with a dual-clutch gearbox, promising quick-shifting gears. The official power output has not been mentioned yet, as well as for the 3.5-litre V6 engine previously used in the Exige and Evora but expect the numbers to be around 360 hp to 400 hp with a maximum torque output of 430 Nm. They’ve stated that the 0-100 km/h sprint time will be less than 4.5 seconds and the top speed to be at least 290 km/h.

In addition to the DCT, a manual gearbox and an automatic gearbox will be available to option depending on the model trim or engine choice. And still staying true to providing the best driving dynamics, it will come with hydraulic steering as it will provide a more natural feel with the front wheels.

Interior

The cabin is simplified yet stylish at the same time. The latter word can be recognized with the use of screens for the infotainment system, which comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, and it measures 10.25 inches and an integrated 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The two sport seats have been designed to hold the occupants in place and as standard, they have a 4-way electric adjustment whilst a 12-way is optional. There are two luggage spaces with 208 litres of storage behind the seats and a boot that has 151 litres of storage space.

Standard features include keyless go, cruise control, electric folding mirrors, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear parking sensors whilst the front ones are optional, together with the KEF Uni-Q premium sound system. It also comes with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) which includes adaptive cruise control, fatigue alert, lane departure warning, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Lotus Emira will be built at Hethel in an all-new manufacturing facility thanks to an investment of 100 Million pounds.

Source: Lotus Emira Press Release

The New BMW 2 Series Coupe Revealed

The new BMW 2 Series has put the Bavarian fanbase in a tricky position as it actuates a pure RWD skeleton whilst maintaining a clean and acceptable look for the small Coupe because lately, BMW has been on a wild ride of, let’s just say experimental designs. The choice of styling is questionable, a trend that has been deliberately created by BMW designers to keep the automotive space talking. This time is not the grille, proportions aside because they’ve nailed it but the light design especially at the rear is not what you’d call “easy on the eye at first glance”. At least it shares no visual cues with the 2 Series Gran Coupe, would’ve been a lot more horrid.

But to understand the whole design approach is not simply pointing out the weird aspects that have been applied but a nod to past BMW models and one concept car that is the 2002 Hommage. You cannot deny that this 2 Series has taken out a page from the concept car, not exactly ripping it out, plus there is an infused side profile look of an E30 3 Series at hand. It needs to be looked at for quite a while to see that the combination is sort of working out but it surely will sink in as time goes by. The talking point has been the exterior and we are not appreciating the fact that the rear-wheel drive platform lives on and the M Diff now exists in this range. It is simplified sportiness, maximized in a small arena that focuses on giving the driver a great experience.

Design

As aforementioned, there are two BMW cars you notice in this design language while it aligns itself with the rest of the current BMW models. You start to see that with the minimal front apron design that has squared air intakes on the sport line model and they quickly shape into large triangular outlines with the M240i xDrive. The new headlights design is much smaller and houses full LED lights as standard, with optional Adaptive LED headlights that have BMW selective beam to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers.

The bonnet, doors, fenders all have a three-dimensional design surface that gives the look a masculine and sporty edge to at least compensate for whatever reason the rear design decided to look like. It is quite laughable that most prayed that the kidney grille should be of normal size and it is but the designers saw an opportunity to generate controversy elsewhere and the rear became the victim. The normal-sized grille has a purpose though, it has vertically arranged flaps that open automatically to improve engine cooling but are closed most of the time for aerodynamic purposes.

The wheels as standard are 17 inches in size but can be increased to 18 inches with the M Sport spec. The 19-inch wheels are available with the M240i xDrive

The chassis is actually something that should be talked about most and should be the main exciting point of the 2 Series Coupe as the whole car almost achieves a perfect 50:50 weight distribution. The foundation can be traced back to the current 4 Series and it has already proven itself as a great dynamic and performing car. With the short wheelbase of the 2 series and the application of several performance technologies such as the M Sport Differential and M Sport Braking which are standard with the M240i xDrive, it will undoubtedly be a joy to drive.

And to add to that valiant statement, the M sport suspension is optional and will come with the M Sport package whilst the Adaptive M Suspension with electronically controlled dampers will be optional. The standard suspension is not far off from sophistication as it comprises of a two-joint spring strut front-axle and five-link rear axle, with lift-dampers that provide extra damping through a system that rectifies imperfections in the road surfaces.

Engines

The powertrain options are familiar as they can be found on most BMW models with the designated badge that follows the series number. There are two petrol engines and one diesel engine that will be available at launch whilst the 230i motor will follow later on. All engines are available as standard with rear-wheel drive and an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, no manual gearbox has been mentioned. The optional 8-speed Sport Steptronic auto comes with paddle shifters and launch control function.

Kicking off the range is the 220i that houses a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine and it produces 184 hp (135 kW) and 300 Nm of torque. The 0-100 km/h sprint time is done in 7.5 seconds with a top speed of 236 km/h. Next up is the 220d which is the diesel variant and it comes with a 48V mild-hybrid system that is capable of providing an extra 11 hp (8 kW). The engine is a 2.0-litre turbodiesel 4-cylinder with 190 hp (140 kW) and 400 Nm of torque and it can do 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds with a top speed of 237 km/h.

The mighty M240i which is now exclusively available with all-wheel drive in the form of the xDrive system comes with the tried and tested B58 engine, a 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbo in-line 6-cylinder that produces 374 hp (275 kW) and 500 Nm of torque. 0-100 km/h is completed in a snappy 4.3 seconds and the top speed is limited to 250 km/h.

Interior

The inside doesn’t offer anything that is particularly new to the BMW range as it is the same interior design as the rest of the pack. It is the usual emphasis on a sporty cabin feel, a bang on driving position, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and sport seats that can be optionally wrapped in Vernasca leather. As standard, the infotainment screen measures an 8.8-inch view whilst the instrument cluster is a 5.1-inch colour display placed in the middle of the dials. There is an option of upgrading to a premium look that features a 12.3-inch BMW Live Cockpit Plus display and a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is three-zone climate control with one zone for the rear two seats. The boot capacity is 390 litres. Other optional features include a Harmon Kardon surround system, ambient lighting and a glass sunroof.

Prices will be announced when it launches in South Africa in the first quarter of 2022.

Source: BMW 2 Series Coupe Press Release

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