2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists

The top 14 finalists for the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year have been announced at an event in Johannesburg on December 4. The next step in the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year journey is the track and road testing of the finalists in March 2020 by 27 of South Africa’s top motoring journalists. The category and overall winners will be announced at an event hosted by AutoTrader in April 2020.

AutoTraderCEO, George Mienie, reveals that members of the public would like to see a win by the Mazda3. “It triumphed in the consumer vote, where we had hundreds of thousands of votes.”

There are some really strong contenders this year. My money is on both the Ford Raptor and the Jaguar I-PACE. I think one of them may win. We have never had an electric car or bakkie as a winner.

2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists by Category

Family
Mazda3
Toyota Corolla Hatch
Leisure
Citroën C3 Aircross
Peugeot 5008
Toyota RAV4
Volkswagen T-Cross
Lifestyle
Ford Ranger Raptor
Premium Car
BMW 3 Series
Premium SUV
BMW X5
Jaguar I-PACE
Mercedes-Benz GLE
Sports/Performance
Toyota GR Supra
Urban
Hyundai Atos
Suzuki Swift Sport

 

 

Bloodhound exceeds 1000 km/h at Hakskeen Pan

The 1010 km/h run is at https://youtu.be/8GXtwR71huE

Nuff said.

It is an amazing, crazy adventure. I love it.

Their website is at http://www.bloodhoundlsr.com/

Bloodhound LSR is a venture based on the Bloodhound Project that is using the Bloodhound SSC Car rescued from administration by Yorkshire-based businessman Ian Warhurst in December 2018.
Since March 2019, the Bloodhound LSR project has been based at the UK Land Speed Record Centre in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Its parent company is Grafton LSR Limited. The Bloodhound team is now working through its plan of high speed testing followed by setting a new world land speed record in South Africa.

The current world land speed record of 763.035 mph (1,227.985 km/h) was set over 20 years ago by a British team including Bloodhound LSR driver Andy Green. Advances in engineering design, materials and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) since the last record was broken mean we can be confident of breaking that record with Bloodhound LSR.

The project is helping to push boundaries and demonstrate pioneering new technologies. Many of the aspects of our land speed record car have required engineers to think in new ways and manufacturers to develop novel production and testing methods.

This project has inspired so many people over the last 10 years, including both students and the wider engineering community. Engineers like solving problems and theorising about what happens when you pass the limits of known understanding. We look forward to continuing this inspiration into the future.

Ian Warhurst, CEO, Grafton LSR Limited

All pics supplied by Bloodhound LSR

Count me in when they are here next.

SABAT WRX Cape Town Final Round 2019

What a weekend. The WRX championship was literally in the air until the last lap of the final at Killarney on Saturday.

WRX Cape Town – Szabo leads the way over the jump during qualifying.

Timmy Hansen, the Peugeot driver, was crowned the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion after taking  the number of wins this season into account when he was tied, on 211 points each, with Andreas Bakkerud at a breathtaking SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa at Killarney International Raceway on Sunday.

The smallish but enthusiastic Cape Town crowd was treated to a spectacular and bruising season finale after Bakkerud finished in second in the race behind winner Niclas Grönholm and Hansen in fourth behind Timur Timerzianov after 60 races in ten countries on four continents through 2019.

“It sounds fantastic — almost unreal that you call me world champion,” Timmy Hansen responded to a question on his taking the title. “I am super happy for the sport – the last race with everything on the line was nerve wracking, but I kept focussing and delivered a strong performance race by race through the weekend — there was no room for error — not the smallest mistake.

Kalliokoski watches forlornly as marshals extinguish an engine bay fire.

Race winner Niclas Grönholm  in the very fast Hyundai said “My first win was after someone else was penalised, so this one is special — my first chequered flag victory! ”

Audi driver Andreas Bakkerud was quite unhappy with the result and behaved a bit like a losing English rugby player. Watch this space. There might still be protests and an investigation.

What happened was the three world championship contenders had a coming together when Timmy Hansen made a move on Bakkerud and the two tangled resulting in Kevin Hansen also losing it.

Niclas Gronholm leads Kevin Hansen around turn one.

As a result Grönholm led the way from the recovered Bakkerud, Timerzianov and Timmy Hansen, who quickly passed a struggling Scheider to take a vital fourth place. Kevin Hansen then had a second spectacular incident at the same corner the three had collided on the opening lap.

The local drivers enjoyed races for Speed Car buggies backed up by races for two rapidly growing Cape Rallycross classes catering for two-litre front wheel-drive machines and three litre rear wheel-drive BMW E36 Cup ‘big sixes’.

Zack Groenewald pushed his car to the limits to take the chequered flag

E36 Cup is a local rallycross class with 17 participants which only started in March this year. Ten drivers took part at the WRX event last weekend. They drive 325i and 328i cars in two categories as the 328s have much more torque. It makes for great racing though.  Zack Groenewald, known as Zackals, in the number 43 car was the very excited winner. He wrote on Facebook “Big thanx to my team for a awesome weekend without you guys its not possible And obviously my wife ….!”.

Timmy Hansen leads brother Kevin during qualifying.

As is usual at Killarney the event was well organised with good facilities and the prices and quality of the fast food was good. The festival like atmosphere was enjoyed by young and old.

Diarise 14-15 November 2020 for next year’s Sabat World Rallycross of South Africa Finale, it will probably be a cracker too and not to be missed.

Toyota Mirai FCEV

Hydrogen power

Toyota will take advanced zero-emission fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technology to new heights when it previews the second-generation Mirai at this month’s Tokyo Motor Show.

Scheduled for launch in 2020 – initially in Japan, North America and Europe in areas supported by a refuelling infrastructure – the new Mirai will be much more than an eco-car. It has been designed to demonstrate how Toyota’s FCEV technology can help create a vehicle that is rewarding to drive and beautiful.

Efficiency is still a critical area, and Toyota is targeting a 30% increase in the Mirai’s driving range through improvements to the fuel-cell system and the use of larger on-board hydrogen tanks.

The current Mirai  practical, with a driving range of around 500 km, easy refuelling in a matter of minutes and no emissions other than pure water. Since launch, around 10 000 units have been sold, while Toyota has actively supported the development of hydrogen fuel infrastructure in key markets worldwide.

The major hydrogen car manufacturers are Toyota, Honda and Hyundai primarily deployed in California, Japan and Germany. Mercedes has launched a GLC F-cell in Germany.

Transporting and storing hydrogen has been the main issue holding this development back. This area is developing rapidly.

Hydrogen can now be stored in a solid form in a chemical called sodium borohydride, for example. Carbohydrates and unsaturated organic compounds can store huge amounts of hydrogen too. Watch this space.

Defender gets a new look

It looks svelt, but can it do veld?

 

Land Rover Defender 110

The off-road icon is back, well soon anyway.
At the heart of Land Rover, the brand, is the Defender. A tough no-nonsense workhorse in the past. The big question with the new one is: Is it as tough as the old Landy?
Hard to say just yet, but there is much to be happy about, on paper at least.
New Defender will be available in 90 (short wheel base) and 110 (long wheel base) body designs, with up to six seats in the 90 and the option of five, six or 5+2 seating in the 110.

Defender remains a beast of burden with a maximum payload of up to 900kg, static roof load of up to 300kg, dynamic roof load of 168kg, towing capacity of 3,500kg and wading depth of up to 900mm. The wheels are still in the corners allowing for excellent approach and departure angles.
A dash-mounted gear shifter is used to accommodate an optional central front ‘jump’ seat, which provides three-abreast seating across the front just like early Land Rovers.

Alex Heslop, Director of Electrical Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, says: “The new Defender is a future-proofed 4×4 for the 21st century, using the latest technologies to optimise efficiency, enhance capability and revolutionise connectivity. With software updates that are sent over the air and next-generation always-on touchscreen infotainment, new Defender is every bit as pioneering today as the original Land Rover was in 1948.”

The new Defender has Land Rover’s (also new) Electrical Vehicle Architecture, which includes a state-of-the-art forward-facing digital camera, advanced ultrasonic sensors and 3Gbit/s onboard network supporting a comprehensive suite of driver assistance technologies. These include a 3D Surround Camera providing both 360-degree plan and new 3D exterior perspective views of the surrounding area, both off and on road providing enhanced augmented on-screen visualisation when using Tow Sensing, Wade Sensing and Land Rover’s ClearSight Ground View transparent bonnet technology, to improve visibility of the vehicle’s surroundings.

The new body architecture provides ground clearance of 291mm and world-class off-road geometry, giving the 110 approach, breakover and departure angles of 38, 28 and 40 degrees (Off Road height) respectively. Landy no longer uses the old ladder-frame chassis but has opted for a new lightweight aluminium monocoque construction to create a much stiffer body structure, they call D7x (for extreme).

When launched locally, diesel power will be provided by a 177kW D240 engine, with sequential twin turbo technology providing 430Nm of torque and fuel economy of 7.7 l/100km and CO2 emissions of 204g/km (NEDC equivalent). Acceleration from 0-100km/h comes in a leisurely 9.1 seconds.
Petrol power comes from a powerful 3.0-litre P400 featuring mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) technology with 294kW and 550Nm. The in-line six-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine features a conventional twin-scroll turbocharger and delivers 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds and claimed fuel consumption of 9.9l/100km with CO2 emissions of 226g/km (NEDC equivalent).

The engines are coupled to an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox with high and low range , centre differential and optional Active Locking Rear Differential.

HyperFocal: 0

A new Satin Protective Film option makes the exterior paintwork even more durable. The sustainable, solvent-free and completely recyclable wrap helps protect against everything from car park scratches to bramble rash and will be available as a factory-fitted option with Indus Silver, Gondwana Stone and Pangea Green colours, providing a unique contemporary finish as it protects. Opting for this finish is a no-brainer.
No less than four Accessory Packs are available: The Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban Packs. I recommend the Adventure pack which features an integrated air compressor, exterior side-mounted gear carrier, seat backpack, portable rinse system, spare wheel cover, bright rear scuff plate and mud flaps.

In addition to the Accessory Packs, new Defender is available with a wide variety of accessories from a remote control electric winch, rooftop tent and inflatable waterproof awnings to more conventional tow bar systems and roof racks.

Prices for the Defender 110 at launch, in the first half of 2020, will start at R910 400. While the expected price of the 90, to follow in the second half of 2020, will start at R830 300 (TBC).

The direct competition is the Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Patrol and various Toyota Land Cruisers.

 

VW T-Cross launched

Sangria, Ibiza, Real Madrid, Flamenco, Toledo…  Navarra.

VW T-Cross

It’s Spain right? The home of the new baby VW SUV – T-Cross. Made in Spain. Some of the Iberian vibe rubbed off on the T-Cross. Its viby, warm, looks stunning in and out, especially in the orange guise.

The trend away from sedans is growing momentum, even taking sales away from hatches. People just love their multi-purpose vehicles from crossovers to SUVs. VW is not immune to this phenomenon. Sales of their big sedans, as well as Passat and Jetta has plummeted.

Wolfsburg had to make a plan, partly in case hatch sales also started evaporating.

Volkswagen have had a medium SUV in the Toureg and a small one with the Tiguan but needed a compact car to cover that end of the market.

VW are bringing two smaller SUV/ crossovers to market. The first one, available now, is the T-Cross. Next year a more funky, less adventure orientated model, the T-Roc will join the fleet.


Its all about the size.

The T-Cross is 4.2 metres in length, 182 mm more than the Polo and 11 centimetres shorter than the T-Roc . The difference in height is even more obvious: the T-Cross measures 1 584 mm compared to the Polo’s 1 461 millimetres. The wheelbase of 2 551 millimetres increases the space and roomy feel. The elevated seat position is typical of an SUV. The driver and front passenger sit 597 mm above the road. The car is also wider at 1756mm and rides higher 180mm than the Polo.

The boot packs in from 377 to 455 litres. With the rear seat back that folds down you can create a flat loading space with up to 1 281 litres of space as the sliding rear seat can be adjusted by 14 cm.

T-Cross offers three trim levels starting with the Trendline (which will only be available next year).

The Comfortline trim comes standard with 16-inch ‘Belmont’ alloy wheels, black roof rails, front fog lights, leather multi-function steering wheel with multi-function display, Park Distance Control (front and rear), cruise control, Light and Sight Package and a front centre arm rest.

The third variant, the Highline, has additional standard features which include Comfort Sports Seats, Inductive Wireless Mobile Charging, Driving Profile Selection, Climatronic Aircon, LED Headlights, Composition Media with App-Connect and 18-inch ‘Cologne’ alloy wheels.

There is an optional sound system from renowned US brand Beats with a 300-watt, 8-channel amplifier and a separate subwoofer in the luggage compartment. It produces a rounded, full sound.

There is a choice of nine exterior colours and a selection of coloured wheel rims to personalise the exterior.

We drove the range-topping T-Cross 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG® model which comes standard with the following features: sports seats, driving profile selection, climatronic aircon, LED Headlights and tail lights, Composition Media with App-Connect, R-Line interior and exterior with 18-inch ‘Nevada’ alloy wheels, digital active info display and a choice of eight exterior colours. Up to four USB ports and the standard inductive wireless charging ensure optimum connectivity and sufficient power for smartphones.

The display system is really good. For example you can have the map displaying on the centre display and the route changes in the digital cluster in front of you. This cluster is seemingly endlessly customisable.

The interior is similar to the Polo and has an aura of quality, in the SUV context. They have not changed anything that works. The gearbox is the tried and tested DSG, the steering wheel is the familiar leather covered multi-function one we love using and so on.

For now the T-Cross will only be available in the 1.0 TSI engine with 85kW power output. In the first quarter of 2020, the 1.5 TSI 110kW will be introduced and in the second quarter the range will be completed with the introduction of the 70kW engine for the Trendline manual model.

These compact SUVs are built on is the modular transverse matrix (MQB) platform, which allows the driven front axle to be positioned much closer to the vehicle front resulting in better space utilisation.
Consumption on the launch drive which included a bit of town driving but mostly on highway was around 7L/100km.

The little three-pot mill is a pleasure to drive and will be more than adequate for most motorists.
For all intents the T-Cross slots in between the Polo and the Golf. Its just that little bit bigger, more functional than the Polo. I see first time buyers getting a Polo and then upgrading to a T-Cross when they need more space.

The competition is quite interesting. We can look at similar prices or similar size.

T-Cross side-by-side with a Polo. You can see it is taller, wider and rides substantially higher.

Price: Haval H6, Opel Mokka, Hyundai Creta, Suzuki Vitara, Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Suzuki GrandVitara, Nissan X-Trail, Mahindra XUV 500 and Mitsubishi ASX,

Size: Ford EcoSport, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Toyota Rush, Renault Duster and Honda BR-V.

Pricing for the range at the moment is: 1.0 TSI 85kW Comfortline DSG® at R334 600, 85kW Highline DSG® at R365 000 and 110kW R-Line DSG® at R403 500. The only manual model will be the 70kW to be introduced later.

The T-Cross comes standard with a 3 year/120 000km warranty, a 3 year/ 45 000km Volkswagen Service Plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.

Flights and accommodation were paid for by Volkswagen. We stayed at the Boulevard Hotel in Port Elizabeth and Knysna Hollow Country Estate.

Recent motoring launches

There were quite a few announcements about new models during August.

GWM P-Series
GWM which sells the Steed bakkies and Haval SUVs locally has just launched a new bakkie model range on their new P71 platform. It will get an 8-speed ZF automatic box coupled to a two litre VVT turbo-diesel engine putting out 140kW and 360 Nm, smart four-wheel drive with three diff-locks, high-strength body, the latest generation of Bosch version 9.3 ESP (stability control), 360 View, Rear View Camera, Lane Departure Warning, intelligent forward view (adaptive cruise control) and 12 radars.
The body measures 5 425 mm long, 1 972 mm wide and 1 893 mm high. The wheelbase is 3 230 mm.
With this bakkie they intend become number three behind Toyota and Ford. Watch this space.
Interestingly they have aligned themselves with several accessory and equipment suppliers and related players to form a complete ecosystem.
Expect the P-Series in the middle of the year (2020). The slightly more compact Steed will be continued.

Audi Q3 35 TFSI S-tronic
The second generation Audi Q 3 is here.
It now features a digital cockpit and a large MMI screen with touch response, assist systems to support the driver when parking, in town and on long journeys and has more knee room, headroom and elbow room.
There will be only one engine version – a 1.4 petrol engine with front wheel drive and a six-speed S tronic box. The power output delivers 110 kW and 250 Nm of torque from a four-cylinder direct injection unit with turbocharging. Six modes or driving profiles can be selected depending on conditions using the drive select dynamic handling system.
Audi South Africa has introduced a new package concept which will be adopted for all new models to be launched. The packages are: Comfort, Technology, Sport, Parking, S-line and Black. For example, the Comfort package includes storage and luggage; parking aid plus; electric tailgate; electric seats; seat heating and 4 way lumbar support.
The standard equipment list is more comprehensive than in the past and includes the digital cockpit, climate control, electronic stability control, rear parking aid and light / rain sensor.
In my opinion the new Q 3 looks great inside and out. Customers have many options for customizing their car. These include a contrasting paint finish for the lower body section or the S line exterior package which offers more sporty looking bumpers, sill trims and diffuser.
The instrument panel is divided into two levels: the top part includes the air vents; the bottom section incorporates the large octagonal area with its black-panel look. It is a really attractive interior.
The Audi Q3 range gets the Audi Freeway plan (5 year / 100 000 km) and is priced as follows:
Audi Q3 35 TFSI S-tronic at R565000, Advanced is R585 000 and S-line a solid R599 000.

Toyota becomes hotspot
“As of 01 September 2019, all new Toyota and Lexus models sold in South Africa will come standard with in-car Wi-Fi including 15GB free data (which you can top up) as well as a host of connectivity features and benefits courtesy of Toyota Connect, a major extension of the MyToyota App,” says President and CEO of TSAM, Andrew Kirby.
Known as Toyota Connect, the new connectivity hub will be housed within the MyToyota App which was launched in 2014. The technology allows owners access convenience, connectivity and safety benefits. Toyota the only manufacturer to offer a mobile App that is fully integrated with manufacturer and dealer systems, it is also the first organisation to offer the convergence of Wi-Fi and connectivity features in one package across the model range internationally.
The benefits of Toyota Connect can be grouped into three main areas: Connectivity features, Convenience and Safety features.
All the big brands are innovating and taking the present technology to the highest levels yet seen. The next generation will be very different and possibly powered either by hydrogen or batteries or they will be hybrids. They will be more automated and less driver orientated, almost like Ubers without the driver.