207 = HEAVEN?
While Renault’s new Clio is getting lots of attention locally, Peugeot’s brand new 207 is also set to arrive locally soon. Receiving rave reviews abroad, the 206 replacement has also grown up dramatically and now feature Peugeot’s open-mouth corporate look. I’ve always considered the 206 to be a very girly car, so I’m delighted that 207 is decidedly more masculine and handsome. Features are on par with cars such as the new Clio 3 and even feature a couple of nifty new ones, like a sun sensor on the facia that anticipates the effects of exposure to the sun. Available locally in three petrol and two diesel derivatives (two 1.4-litre petrols, one 1.6-litre petrol, a 1.4 diesel and 1.6 turbodiesel), prices are yet to be confirmed, but the new 207 is bound to attract plenty of attention with its practicality and French flair.
TAKE A SEAT
As reported earlier this year, Spanish manufacturer SEAT has finally arrived in the country with a complete range featuring three models. More emotive in styling but featuring the same range of engines available in any Volkswagen, I’m a bit baffled as to why VW is charging premium brand prices for a relatively unknown marquee on local shores. However, I find the Golf 5 (excluding the GTI) to be dull-looking vehicles and therefore believe that SEAT’s Ibiza, Leon and Altea will do quite well based solely on their dramatic styling. Prices range from R152 250 to R199 700 for the Ibiza, R213 000 to R245 500 for the Leon and R216 400 to R249 500 for the Altea MPV. With dedicated dealerships already up and running, a test drive is certainly on my to-do list!
THE BATTLE OF THE LUXURY SAV
As if we do not already have too many options when it comes to buying a car, it appears as if lovers of the so-called sports activity vehicle will soon be spoiled even more. Tired of BMW hogging sales with the odd-looking X3, Mercedes Benz, Audi and Volvo have announced that they will soon have their own representatives in that specific segment. Encouraged by the mammoth success of the Q7, Audi has confirmed plans to build a smaller version – dubbed the Q5 – to take on the BMW X3 and Mercedes Benz’s upcoming MLK. Volvo is planning an XC50 to join the fight as well, but it won’t be a serious off-roader and will be aimed more at the Nissan X-Trail and Toyota RAV4. The more the merrier might be appropriate, but then again, too many cooks often do spoil the broth…
VA VA VOOMÂ³
Renault’s third generation Clio arrived on local shores last month, and with extremely competitive pricing, it’s almost impossible for the French model to not be a hit. Instantly recognizable as a Clio but also considerably larger, Clio 3 has gone from cute and affordable to mature and more convincing. Voted 2006 European Car of the Year, Clio 3 is available in South Africa as a 1.4 Expression (3- and 5-door), 1.6 Expression (5-door, manual and automatic), 1.6 Dynamique (3- and 5-door) and a 1.5 dCi Expression (5-door). All models are jam-packed with standard features (such as remote audio controls, electric windows, remote central locking, alarm and immobiliser, and driver, passenger and side airbags), while the higher priced models – like the 3-door 1.6 Dynamique – comes standard with cornering headlights, a feature normally reserved for larger and more luxurious cars. Prices range from R125 000 for the 1.4 Expression to R141 000 for the 1.6 Dynamique. Renault will still offer the 1.2 and 1.4 Va Va Voom models of the previous range at entry-level, but with Clio 3 the French manufacturer has most certainly upped the stakes.
A MOTORING EXPO…FOR GAYS
The world’s first-ever gay motoring show will be taking place in the UK during September. The world’s only gay motoring website, UK-based Top Gayer, will be joining forces with the Cardiff Wales Mardi Gras, one of Europe’s largest free gay events, in an attempt to double this year’s attendance. The show will feature exhibitions by most companies that Top Gayer associates with, as the website only promotes gay-friendly manufacturers, dealers and insurance companies. In order to qualify as gay-friendly, such companies must simply offer domestic-partner benefits to their LGBT employees and be openly gay-friendly to their customers. Quite frankly I think that automotive manufacturers would be stupid to let such an opportunity pass them by. The free festival boasts attendance of over 50 000, and the Top Gayer motor show is set to double that as research in the UK has shown that the majority of the UK’s LGBT community prefer to spend their pounds at companies that have progressive policies towards their LGBT employees in place. As South Africans we’ll have to settle for Auto Africa 2006, taking place at Nasrec from 26 October to 5 November this year.