In a move that could be very costly, new Volkswagen Group Chairman, Martin Winterkom, has sent four of the company’s most eagerly awaited products back to the drawing board. The surprise move comes as part of Winterkom’s revised management plan to utilise the input of former Audi officials (who now work for VW) in the development of these vehicles. Some of these officials include Walter de’Silva (who designed the Alfa Romeo 147 and Seat Leon amongst others), Wolfgang Hatz (engine development), Ulrich Hackenberg (vehicle development), Matthias Müller (product planning) and Jochem Heizmann (production). Vehicles affected include the Passat Coupe which already appeared in production form last year, the Tiguan (a baby Touareg), the gorgeous Scirocco and sixth-generation Golf. One of the reasons the designs of these models were rejected is because Winterkom wants the front-end of the cars to be more uniform in appearance, which is why Maurat Gunak – VW’s head of design and designer of the Scirocco – has been replaced by Walter de’Silva.

Winterkom is apparently also quite disappointed with the Tiguan, whilst Hackenburg claims to have identified a number of areas where Golf 6 can be improved. Former VW chairman, Bernd Pischetsrieder, pushed for the development of the Passat Coupe, Tiguan and Scirocco in an attempt to lessen the company’s financial dependence on volume-selling models such as the Golf, while simultaneously gaining a foothold in a number of new market niches. It is also reported that the Golf 6 will go decidedly upmarket, and that Winterkom will leave the entry-level fight to its SEAT and Skoda subsidiaries. Winterkorn did a sterling job of guiding Audi to record sales and profits, but his decision on the Passat Coupe could potentially cost the company dearly, as preparations for the model at the company’s Emden plant in Germany were already well under way.


Two German drop-tops – or coupe-cabriolets as they are popularly referred to these days – were recently launched on local soil. First up is VW’s breathtaking new Eos, a car that looks remarkably like a cross between a Polo and a Passat (and a Golf for that matter) yet is a designed-from-scratch stand-alone model in the range. Also, VW calls it a CSC roof because, unlike conventional CC’s, the Eos offers no less that five different roof options – all in one. With the roof fully closed or open, the Eos is a normal coupe or convertible. However, when the roof is up you can push back the upholstered roof-cover to reveal a massive sunroof, which you can even tilt open or push back completely as with a conventional sunroof. The Eos is fitted with VW’s trusty 2.0 FSI and 2.0T FSI engines, delivering the now familiar 100kW and 147kW respectively. Prices start at R323 000 for the normally aspirated FSI, with the turbo pushing the price up to R365 000 (or even R378 500 should you want the DSG gearbox). Simultaneously, Opel – which is often not considered German due to its General Motors-ownership – released its Astra TwinTop. Possibly the best-proportioned CC around, the TwinTop is immediately recognisable as an Astra but is undoubtedly the best-looking Astra available. Only two engine-options are available: a 1.8-litre Ecotec-engine that develops 103kW (R256 750) and a 2.0-litre turbo (147kW) as fitted to the GTC, priced at R299 995. When it comes to open-top driving, there are not that many affordable options around, making the addition of the Eos and the TwinTop to the market even more exciting. Offering remarkably similar packages, I am however baffled by the Eos’s price premium – surely VW could have opted for more aggressive pricing (whilst still making a profit)? Personally, I’d opt for the TwinTop and take a month-long holiday with the R65 000 saved!


With brochures of the new Mercedes-Benz C-class mysteriously leaked online in January, it’s by now already a well-known fact that Merc has finally managed to create a truly gorgeous C-class. With the first and second generations being fairly attractive but largely emotionless, it appears that it’s third time lucky for Mercedes Benz. The new C-class will be available locally round about August this year, but no official specs or prices for the local derivatives have yet been released. However, what is know is that you’ll still get them in Avantgarde, Elegance and Classic spec, each emphasising different characteristics like safety, comfort and agility. All models will however share the same technologies, like the new Agility Control package with situation-responsive shock absorber control. Overseas, there is a choice between four and six-cylinder engines with up to 13 percent more output and up to six perecent lower fuel consumption than the outgoing models. And even though the pictures tell a thousand stories, don’t be fooled: new C-class is longer and wider. Designed on the modern Merc approach of taut lines and large, tranquil surfaces (as first seen on the new S-class), new C is a dramatic departure from what we’re used to and bound to give its Teutonic competitors a good run for their money. Mambaonline will feature a more in-depth look at the new C-class closer to its local launch.


BMW has released the first official pictures of the forthcoming M3, coinciding with their display of the M3 concept car at the recent Geneva Motor Show. Not surprisingly, the new M3 is based on the brilliant 3-series coupe, but only borrows the headlamps, tail lamps, the two doors and the luggage compartment lid from its coupe sibling. The rest has become more sculpted and aggressive (like the ‘power dome’ on the bonnet), creating a look that is admittedly quite brutal. Stealing the show however is a high-revving V8 engine (with estimated displacement of approximately 4.0-litres) that is reported to be derived from the 5.0-litre V10 used in the M5. No official power or performance figures have been released as yet, but it is widely speculated that it will offer at least 320kW of power and torque in excess of 400Nm. This should propel BMW’s new rocket to 100km/h in under five seconds, although it is expected to have the traditional 250km/h top speed limit. Nineteen inch alloy wheels, a massive rear diffuser and four exhaust pipes add a delightful finishing touch to a package that will undoubtedly give some very steep competition to the current king of the heap: Audi’s scorching RS4. Keeping the Audi’s 4.2-litre V8 monster – that has 309kw of power and 430Nm of torque on tap – in mind, I think it’s an appropriate time to fasten your seatbelts: this race is certainly going to require you to hold on for dear life!


Audi also recently released the first official pictures of its new A5 coupe, a car designed to fill the gap between the “entry level” TT and the magnificent R8 supercar. Audi is calling the A5 a mid-sized coupe and is based on 2003’s Nuvolari concept. In size, it fits snugly between the A4 and the A6 and is the first Audi to get the new front/mid-engined layout in which the front wheels are pushed forward and the engine backwards to improve handling. The A5 will be available with a range of FSI petrol and TDI diesel engines ranging in output from 125kW to 190kW. The range-topping S5 will be fitted with Audi’s 260kW, 440Nm V8 engine. It has been reported internationally that Walter de’Silva, head of design at Audi, cried when he first saw the finished A5… stunned by its beauty. While it certainly is a beautiful car, it doesn’t quite bring the

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