LAUNCH ALERT: BMW 1-SERIES CONVERTIBLE
If you enjoy the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, then the forthcoming BMW 1-Series Convertible will probably set your pulse racing. The open two-door, due to be launched in South Africa in the second quarter of 2008, will continue the success of the BMW 1-Series and extend the car-maker’s range of convertibles.
A spiritual successor to the 3-series cabriolet that was so popular in the mid- to late-‘80s, the new BMW 1-Series Convertible combines the sporting elegance of its design with the superior agility of the only compact car with rear wheel drive. It features an electro-hydraulically operated fabric roof that opens and closes within 22 seconds. Like many other convertibles, the roof can even be operated at low speeds.
Available at launch in two petrol models, the BMW 120i Convertible (115kW) and the BMW 125i Convertible (160kW), customers will also be able to opt for the new yardstick in sporty driving pleasure when the top of the range model, BMW 135i Convertible, becomes available three months later with 225kW! Pricing will be confirmed closer to launch, when Mambaonline will bring you all the details.
NOW THE FIESTA REALLY STARTS: MAZDA 2
For a number of years, Ford’s nippy Fiesta has been doing battle with numerous similar offerings. While the Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen Polo have been winning on the sales front, many critics keep choosing the Fiesta as the best buy. But the “fiesta” is only really starting now with the introduction of the gorgeous new Mazda2 to local shores – in direct competition to its Fiesta cousin. And let’s face it: its dynamic design, sharp contours, low roofline and compact dimensions are set to kick butt…
Small the little 2 is not, as it offers spacious and practical storage solutions on the inside, further complimented by sophisticated trim details and high levels of specification. All models are available with a CD sound system featuring MP3 compatibility, while the top of the range Mazda2 Individual offers a six CD changer with six speakers. Dynamic and Individual models include audio controls on the steering wheel as a standard feature.
South African buyers will be able to choose between two engine variants, a 62kW 1.3-litre engine and a 76kW 1.5-litre Sequential Valve Timing (S-VT), both offering confident and dynamic performance with ample torque delivery and good fuel economy throughout the rev range (5.4l/100kms for the 1.3, and 5.9l/100km for the 1.5). Prices start at R116 900 for the 1.3 Original, ending at R158 990 for the top-spec 1.5 Individual, which includes a 4 year/ 60 000km Service Plan and 3 year /100 000km warranty.
URBAN REVIVAL: NISSAN QASHQAI
When American manufacturer, Dodge, decided to return to local shores, it did so with its new Caliber, an odd-looking vehicle that’s really a car deep down, but attempts to capture drivers who like the SUV look. Dodge claims that they have sold every Caliber they’ve imported thus far, but it certainly doesn’t make it a successful design. Nissan, on the other hand, decided to do exactly the same thing although much, much better. Enter the delightful new Qashqai (pronounced “Kash-Kai”), named after a desert-dwelling nomadic tribe living near the Zagros Mountains in South Western Iran.
In the TV ad (where Qashqai is used as a skateboard), it really does look like an SUV, but be warned: in reality, it slots in somewhere between the Micra and Murano in terms of size. But, more importantly, the design actually works, blending the passenger car and SUV styling cues much better than Dodge did with the Caliber. As such, Qashqai manages to offer the sense of security provided by an SUV whilst handling like a hatchback.
Qashqai has been launched with three petrol models: the 1.6 Visia and 1.6 Acenta (both with 81kW on tap), and the 2.0 Acenta (with 102kW on tap). Diesel-derivatives and a 4WD option will follow towards the second half of 2008. Pricing starts at R183 900 for the 1.6 Visia, with the 2.0 Acenta at R219 950. There is however a tiny problem: The Qashqai has exceeded Nissan’s wildest sales expectations both in Europe and Japan, and with huge demand globally, I’d suggest getting your name on the substantial waiting list as soon as possible…
BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO CAMPING: VOLKSWAGEN CALIFORNIA
Just when I thought I had seen it all, Volkswagen ups the ante by introducing the delightful California to local shores, a year after displaying it at Auto Africa. The California is, in essence, a motor home based on its popular T5 Kombi, and I love it! Sure, it’s not a fabulous new design, but it has everything you need if you love traveling and don’t necessarily care how many stars are placed behind the name of the accommodation.
It sleeps four adults and exudes multi-functionality at every point. Everything you need for cooking is ready and waiting in the California’s kitchen. It has a folding worktop in the kitchen unit, which comes with wood-trimmed cupboard fittings. It features a two-burner hob with Piezo ignition, 42 litre compressor cool box, superior comfort sleeping surfaces and large storage compartments. The elevating roof on the first floor, which has a width of 120cm and a length of 200cm, promises a good sleep and also features a gooseneck lamp for bedtime reading. In addition, the higher lift of the roof gives more headroom over the entire length.
The California boasts with a powerful 2.5 TDI engine, produces 128kW and 400Nm of torque, with the traditionally frugal fuel consumption delivered by all TDI engines. But it doesn’t come cheap… The California 2.5 TDI Manual will set you back a whopping R460 000, with the optional 4Motion taking it up to R490 000. Is it worth it? Absolutely! The California facilitates traveling and, at the destination, serves as sleeping quarters. I think it’s a brilliant concept that is bound to excite our country’s many travel-hungry citizens!
PORSCHE? WHAT PORSCHE?: AUDI R8
Sportscar, supercar – call them what you want, no-one would argue that not much can come close to the sheer exhilaration of a beautifully sculpted, insanely fast, absurdly priced car. For decades we’ve aspired to those made by Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Porsche. Mercedes-Benz almost nailed it with the McLaren SLR, but when it comes to the German luxury marques, none have yet managed to successfully incorporate speed and power into one package. Until now, that is.
Enter Audi’s magnificent new R8 which was recently launched on local shores for a cool R1.255 million in manual guise (R1.3 million for the R-tronic). A bit steep for an Audi? Perhaps, but then again – this is not your run of the mill luxury Audi. The R8 is in fact a precision supercar, and a brave move into the unknown for Audi. With a high-revving 309 kW, mid-mounted V8 FSI engine, Quattro permanent all-wheel drive and Audi’s trademark aluminium space frame construction, the new R8 brings the right credentials to the party.
The R8 is hand-built at a rate of 19 cars per day, and with waiting lists already stretching into 2009, South Africa will be getting just short of 30 this year. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but there is no denying that the R8 is menacingly stunning; its imposing proportions, accentuated wheel arches and subs