There’s been a dramatic increase in new model launches, with manufacturers all aiming to soon fill those Christmas stockings. Mambaonline takes a look at some of the highlights.
HOT 3 BREAKS COVER…
Most readers of Mamba Motoring will know that I’m a sucker for a hot hatch, which is why the newest contender on the market has really caught my attention. While the current kings in this category offer anything between 147kw and 166kw (VW Golf GTi and Ford Focus ST), the all new Mazda3 MPS’s 2.3-litre DISI Turbo engine produces a gargantuan 190kw of power at 5 500rpm, with maximum torque of 380Nm at only 3000rpm. That will most certainly blow your hair back! It catapults the MPS from standstill to 100km/h in a very decent 6.1 seconds and tops out at 250km/h, making it not only the fastest Mazda on the market, but also one of the highest performing front-wheel drive hatches on our roads. Because of the sheer amount of power in the relatively small body, torque characteristics are carefully controlled while the body, suspension and brakes are tuned to provide outstandingly agile handling performance. Specially moulded body kits, high-mounted roof spoiler with LED brake lights and 10-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels ensure that the Mazda3 MPS stand out from the rest of the range. Most luxury and safety features expected in such a car are included, which makes this triple-dose of zoom-zoom very attractive at R259 990…
…AND THE NEW 6 IS ON THE WAY
Mazda has announced that the all-new Mazda6 will be launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September this year. A complete redesign, the new 6 is the second Mazda (after the Mazda2) to feature their new Kizuna design language – “a deepening of the emotional connection between man and machine.” No technical details are available as yet, so for now, just have a look.
Citroen’s spunky C2 has been a popular designer-mini for a number of years now, with the company recently launching the new C2 i-Play. Based on the popular 1.4 VTR, the i-Play takes all the VTR’s standard features and adds a few must-have lifestyle items to make it an even better buy. The limited edition i-Play now includes a 2GB iPod Nano with fitted connector and holder that can play your favourite tunes through the car’s sound system, smash and grab tinted windows, 15” “carbon touch” alloy wheels and a comprehensive two year/ 40 000km Service Plan (and we all know how expensive those C2 services can be…). The C2 i-Play has a recommended retail price of R129 900 and adds significantly more value to the trendy city creature.
TWO NEW PANDA BABIES
Fiat’s cute Panda is one of my favourite small cars, especially in the 4X4 guise. Fiat has added a “normal” version of the Panda since its launch and now they’re set to take the range even further this year with the introduction of two new derivatives: the 1.1 Active and the range-topping 100HP. Coming in on the affordable side of the Panda range is the new 1.1 Active, fitted with Fiat’s trusted 1.1-litre FIRE engine. It develops 40kW at 5000rpm and 88Nm of torque at 2750rpm, mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The 1.1 Active is made for comfortable city driving (0 to 100km/h in 15 seconds, top speed 150km/h), and is bound to be a delightfully nippy alternative on the entry-level market. However, the flagship 100HP is fitted with a brand new 1.4-litre 16-valve engine that develops 74kW of power at 6000 rpm and 131Nm of torque at 4250 rpm, enough to propel this small Italian to 100km/h in 9.5 seconds before topping out at 185km/h. Even better is its fuel consumption: 6.5-litres per 100km! It certainly looks the part in either red, white, black, blue and grey, especially if the sporty “Pandemonia” pack is ticked on the options list. The new Fiat Panda 1.1 Active retails for R89 900, and the 100HP at R124 900.
Hyundai is definitely on a roll when it comes to new releases! A mere couple of months after the new Elantra’s introduction, they have now launched a hatchback derivative of the popular Accent, a car that received a COTY nomination earlier this year. With both models fitted with a very nippy 1.6-litre engine, they offer superior value for money in the segments in which they compete. An in-depth driving impression of both the Elantra and Accent hatch will follow in the near future.
MINI GOES CLUBMAN
Let’s face it: since the introduction of BMW’s new MINI a few years ago, many a gay man has swooned over this design icon. A niche model it may be (I am constantly crucified for that statement), but its cute looks and BMW engineering prowess have done wonders for its popularity – so much so that the second incarnation recently hit the showroom floors, looking remarkably similar, albeit slightly larger. BMW is however set to expand the range with the really funky new MINI Clubman, an up-to-date reincarnation of the Mini Clubman Estate from the ‘60s. The new MINI Clubman is undoubtedly a model that offers high levels of functionality due to its extended roofline as well as high levels of personalisation. Longer than the standard MINI by 24cm, Clubman features five seats in a design similar to that of a hatchback, with two doors at the back that open to the sides. The Clubman is due to be launched in South Africa in the first quarter of 2008. Initially set to be available in Cooper and Cooper S engine spec, BMW has been unable to indicate possible pricing at the time of going to press. What is a fact, though, is that the Clubman is a MINI I would certainly consider spending my money on…
PARTING SHOT: CHEVROLET CAPTIVA
General Motors South Africa recently launched the impressive new Chevrolet Captiva. Mambaonline was at Gerotek to experience everything their first attempt at an SUV has on offer, and left thoroughly impressed. An in-depth report is on the way.