Johannesburg International Motorshow ’11 highlights

It’s been quite a while since the last Johannesburg Motor Show, and it’s been well worth the wait! You’d expect the show to improve year on year but the jump in the quality of the show from the last is unbelievable. It truly felt like the “International” motor show the JIMS name holds. If you didn’t get to go, here are some of my highlights from the show

 

Audi Sex

The highlight for me from the guys in Ingolstadt was the Audi E-Tron Concept. The RS3 and A8 Long wheel base were also there but needless to say the long wheel base incarnation of the A8 didn’t exactly make the base of my penis fizz.

Take me to your leader

What did, was the Audi E-tron, which made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009, and attempts to take a stab at a high performance battery powered car. It’s claimed the e-tron’s electric motors produce 10 times the lb/ft torque of an Audi R8 4.2. Say what? Audi claims the car will reach 100km/h in 5.9 seconds and up to a 260km/h top speed. Doubtful that’ll all happen at once, and it’s still a concept, but my God it’s beautiful! This truly shows the future of electric vehicles, no longer do they have to shout “I’m driving a hybrid!” but rather, “Hey R8 driver! My car is better looking than yours and drops more panties than Daniel Carter. I do hope they change very little when this car makes it into production. Someone who has done very well when it comes to changing very little on a concept car is the guys from Range Rover.

 

Eeee-Vogue.

Another real show stopper, not because it’s something nobody knows about (if you don’t you’ve been living under a rock) but rather because for many people, including myself, it’s the first time seen in the metal. The Range Rover Evoque (pronounced E-Vogue…like an electric Vogue magazine) The Evogue goes on sale in a few months and 700 South African early adopters have said “I Do” to the Evoque without

RR Evoque Interior. Red. Hot.

seeing it in the flesh or let alone even taking it for a test drive. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened with a car in SA, especially one for Land Rover.  The Evoque looks amazing in the flesh, it’s a beauty, and a lot smaller than I initially thought it would be. Range Rover featured 5 models in different specifications to give a sense of how these cars can be specced out and they look haaawwwt! Underpinned by a Freelander drivetrain the Evoque is still very capable off-road (tyre selection dependant) but no doubt it’ll spend its time in the hands of the hottest car park mommies and BEE boys.

 

Ford Ranger Grille. Bling

Ranger Rear is Massive

Something that will however no doubt make its way onto the dirt roads of South Africa is the new Ranger. You might be frowning wondering why I’ve chosen to feature the Ranger, but this car is Ford’s first global “bakkie”. Ford is investing huge money into their model lines to develop vehicles for their “global” market, instead of having incarnations of model lines in every country (saving costs and so on). The Ranger however was quite a hit at the show, with many two-tone-bellies plowing over from Toyota and Nissan to have a look at this new “bakkie”. The most important changes are to the exterior, which now actually looks pretty damn cool, as well as interior, which, adds many

Ford Ranger Interior. Farmers frown at curved lines

creature comforts and brings it in line with its competitors. Ford has seen the light and states, “ Just because it’s a truck doesn’t mean it has to drive like one”. Truth. The Ranger goes on sale in SA before the end of the year (Nov) in 2.2TDCi, 2.5 Petrol and 3.2Diesel, aimed squarely at the competitor diesel engines. You can guarantee that Toyota, VW and Isuzu are shaking in their space boots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not a whale, it's a Merc

Speaking of space boots, I must commend Mercedes Benz on what I thought was the best stand of the show. It was by far the most interactive and featured their entire model range, which I must say, is now looking very well aligned, and a lot better than back in 2005. This said the A-Class Concept was the star of the Mercedes Stand (Except of course for the Viano people mover, which Trevor van der Ven nearly wet his pants over) The A-Class concept is a mirror ball view into the design style Merc will bring us in years to come, and I’m not complaining.

A-Class Amaze

Most importantly will be this A-Class model (hopefully very close to the concept in styling) which needed a lot of work to do more to compete against the likes of the 1series and A3. The car is so vastly different from the current Elk-failure that I can’t even draw similarities. It’s quite brash and the grille very “in your face” but the lowered roof line and heavy creasing in the metal goes to show this A-Class is going to be a totally new car for a totally new market. Hashtag Excited.

3 Pointed Stars

 

Toyota FT-86. Smokin'

Another concept we’ve seen floating around the various motor shows for quite some time is something from, wait for it, Toyota! Yes sir, the Toyota FT-86! The FT-86 is a joint model (engine) development with Subaru but Toyota has stolen most of the lime-light with the FT-86 releasing first. This is the first car in quite a while that’s going to deliver on the demand for performance models for the Toyota market in SA, and of course the zooped up tuning shops worldwide. Toyota confirmed that the FT-86 will be coming to South Africa around June next year and we can expect a naturally aspirated four cylinder powering the rear-wheels, which is something we haven’t seen in SA for about a decade. What’s interesting is that Toyota knows their fans will be boosting and pimping the shit out of this vehicle so modifications and maximum strength parts are being used to ensure that the vehicles handles all the mods that will be thrown at it. Truly excited about the FT-86 from Toyota.

 

Overall a fantastic show! I’ve only just mentioned very few of the numerous new models and concepts released at JIMS but if you didn’t get to see the show you’ll no doubt see the full review in your local car magazines, newspapers and TV shows.

 

FJ Cruiser brute

 

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Mercedes Benz C63 AMG (2010)

I must admit, that I’m very worried about the motoring world. Not because Kia seem to be making better looking cars than BMW can muster up these days, or that Lamborghini reports it will be making an SUV…no no, this is much more disturbing.

Global warming and all that Al Gore propaganda seems to be taking its toll on the motoring fraternity the world over. GM and its Volt, Mitsubishi has put its hydrogen car on the market, and according to a recent report, sales of Hybrid cars have nearly doubled in the US, year on year.

I’m worried, that in a couple of years, I’m going to have to buy a car, that runs on water, and has a synthesizer in the “exhaust”, that I get to tune to different settings “V6, V8, Straight 6”…the list goes on. I’m sorry but if I prefer my cars burning fuel and emitting CO2. I want to hear a growl when I drive into an underground parking lot or feel the rumble through the pedals when I put my foot down. Or is that too much to ask? Apparently the polar bears floating on the only two ice-caps left, say, yes it is.

How does this relate to what I drove? Well, the Mercedes Benz C63 AMG makes long dark smoky stains at the feet of Al Gore and the ever-shrinking rainforests. And making those stains, are oh so easy as I found out.

The C63 is AMG’s overhaul of the C-Class. They are the muscle car equivalent of Extreme Makeover.  For starters, this is the first Mercedes that AMG designed from the ground up, lumped with a 6.3 litre naturally aspirated V8 developing 336Kw and 600NM of torque, it boasts a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.5 seconds and an electronically governed top speed of 250Km/h. This is all very impressive stuff for a car that can easily accommodate 4 adults and their baggage. But we’re not into that family jazz, so let me tell you what thrills…

The sound of that V8 is the most intoxicating sound I’ve ever heard. Things get all kind of Benoni when you stop at a traffic light. Car in Neutral, and drop the accelerator. People literally grab their children and run. Needless to say, doing this in an underground parking lot, or tunnel, leads to immediate orgasm.

The engine is pure, and mated to the “7 Speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT 7-Gtronic” transmission (I shit you not, that’s what they call it) 3 Modes for the gearbox (Comfort, Sport & Manual) Sport makes gear shifts 30% faster, and manual 50% faster than comfort. A nice touch, when in manual, (and it REALLY is manual) is there is no shifting up for you when you reach the limiter – what you get though is one very loud pop, red warning lights, and a binnacle full of “ACHTUNG – SHIFT UP”…very subtle.

This is what I love. A big burly V8, that guzzles petrol at a rate faster than BP can pump it out into the Gulf of Mexico. A big V8 that makes beggars turn and run, and sets off car alarms in underground parking lots.

Another novel touch, is when downshifting in manual (paddle shift), it automatically blips the throttle for that ‘pop’ in the exhaust. Sheer hair raising stuff. Let me tell you something. No hydrogen powered-hybrid-battery-eco-friendly sedan will EVER raise the hair on your neck like that…unless of course you happen to touch the plug after charging.

Handling? It’s superb, it has 3 settings for the ESP (ESP ON, ESP SPORT and OFF), however I wouldn’t recommend even giving a glance in the direction of that button. I managed to spin the back out turning into another road at about 50km/h. Thankfully ESP intervened, or I’d be writing about the airbag deployment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not out of control handling, but you need to learn how to drive this car. Throttle feel and reading the steering feel is incredibly important at every point.

Ride is, well…firm, enough said. The vehicle’s steering is balanced between assisted electronics in the parking lot, and weighted feel through the corners – which makes handling the power of the vehicle manageable throughout the rev range.

Interior, is very well appointed. Every amenity is there, within reach, and some within speaking distance. The model I drove had so many optional extras I can’t really comment on standard features, however a very nice add on was the COMAND Languatronic (speak and it does everything) function. It makes handling all the COMAND system functions a breeze.

It’s an amazing piece of machinery, and even more impressive as it was built as a showcase, marking Mercedes and AMG’s 40th year of collaboration. A match made in motoring heaven if you ask me.

I stick by it, I will drive every V8, V10, V12 and buy big large petrol engined cars right up until we either run out of black stuff, or they ban ‘em from the roads.

This Mercedes stands testament to what visceral connections can be made from a piece of metal to flesh and blood.