Sources inside Land Rover are saying the firm will be undergoing a name refresh, in an attempt to smooth out some of the confusion surrounding the many different Land and Range Rover models.
The biggest change will be the complete disappearance of the Freelander name, which will instead be badged similarly to the American models, where the Freelander badge has not existed since 2006.
In the States the Freelander has been known as the LR2, while the Discovery has always worn the LR4 badge.
It is not known if these exact designations will be retained, but what is certain is that the Discovery will be the centrepiece in the Land Rover stable, and that its name will probably act as the root for the new Freelander.
Range Rover probably has the most complete line-up so far, with its Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Evoque models. Rumours are that the new Land Rover will also feature two different versions of the Discovery, as well as five and seven-seater version of the Freelander.
There is also the possibility of a shorter, urban model that will be based on a trimmed Evoque chassis. If given the green light, it will wear a Land Rover badge and compete more closely in the popular compact SUV segment.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 21:21
PSA members Citroën and Peugeot will be undergoing a brand repositioning as part of a strategy that aims to improve the hierarchy of the group, with the final part of that restructuring being the new C-Line.
The C-Line, along with Citroën’s DS range, will both be handled as more autonomous marques, appealing closely to each of their target markets.
The DS brand will target the German premium brands head-on as well as being the PSA group’s main show of force in the developing Chinese market. Peugeot on the other hand will attempt to conquer a larger slice of the European mainstream market.
But it is the new Citroën C-Line, which is also set to replace the aging C3, that has the most interesting future, as it will be aimed at those buyers trying to strike a balance between price and features.
Citroën says that although the nameplate will be pitched at the lower end of the market, it does not mean that the C-Line will simply chase lower cost car manufacturers.
Instead, the C-Line will keep production costs low by limiting drivetrain options, while still offering buyers a progressive, even brave set of styling cues.
Citroën says it is drawing inspiration from the 2007 C-Cactus concept for the new C-Line, which will certainly mean that the C-Line does have more than just an attractive price point on its side.
Last Updated on Monday, 20 May 2013 06:06
Mini's latest sets the Pace - plus sleek Infiniti M37S, all-new Toyota RAV4, and Rust de Winter 4x4 action
Mini continues to expand its burgeoning model family. The latest addition to the line-up is the Paceman – effectively a two-door version of the supersized Countryman. We drive the newcomer in the Western Cape.
Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti is trying to grab a slice of the premium car pie – and the M37S is its mid-sized contender, facing up to established players like the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz E-class and Audi A6. But do South Africans recognise the lofty aspirations of this car – and the brand?
Toyota’s RAV4 was one of the pioneers of the compact SUV segment, and the latest-generation version is arguably the most mature and complete iteration of the RAV4 formula to date. We find out more during a drive along the scenic Garden Route.
And finally, we join the off-road action at this year’s Rust De Winter 4x4 Jamboree, where the latest General Grabber MT tyres made quite an impression.
This week’s premiere episode of RPM TV retains its usual broadcast slot at 20h30 on SuperSport 6 and SS6 Africa. There is also a Thursday transmission, at 08h00, also on SS6 and SS6 Africa. As always, there are several repeat broadcasts, including on DSTV’s SS Select Action.
As last-minute changes to the broadcast schedule are a frequent occurrence, please check the latest transmission schedule under ‘Motorsport’ on the SuperSport website’s ‘TV’ section, or the DStv Electronic Programme Guide.
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Last Updated on Monday, 20 May 2013 06:24
BMW’s 2-Series Coupé has been spied without any visually protective camouflage, months before its intended official release later this year.
The smallest two-door sedan is the replacement model for the 1-Series Coupé, and will serve as the two-door-with-boot member of the 1-Series, similarly to the 4-Series’ role as the 3-Series’ coupé contender.
The 2-Series has had its wheelbase increased by 30mm compared to the 1-Series Hatch, and can accommodate both the traditional rear-wheel drive, as well as a four-wheel drive transmission system.
The rise in size should translate into a more spacious cabin, which is good seeing as the 2-Series will be entering a world with two very strong competitors in the form of the upcoming Audi A3 Sedan and recently launched Mercedes-Benz CLA.
The car’s looks are a mash-up of the 1-Series and 4-Series styling approaches, taking cues from both vehicle lines. The front grille is quite similar to that of the 1-Series, but the 2-Series’ overall stance and presence is far more reminiscent of the Four’s sleek dimensions.
The 2-Series will share its line-up of engines with the 1-Series, including the quite brutal 235 kW 3,0-litre turbocharged straight-six, that powers the M135i.
On top of that, it is quite likely that the 2-Series will spawn the spiritual successor of the 1-Seires M Coupé, which is likely to see an even more potent version of the 35i engine installed under the bonnet, and M-division dynamics added to the chassis.
At a fairly low-key media event in Kyalami, surrounded by a dozen prancing Lipizzaner horses, Ferrari unveiled the F12berlinetta - the company's most powerful road going car ever.
Even the mighty Prancing Horse has had to contend with the issues of efficiency; although in their case it doesn't hurt that less weight doesn't only mean less fuel, it means more speed. The F12berlinetta (no space between "F12" and "berlinetta", please) has a V12 motor that is 30% more efficient and burns through less fuel than any car in its class - 15l/100km, with a CO2 count of 350g/km. By designing the car from the outset with those goals in mind, and by using a bunch of different aluminium alloys and new joining techniques for the chassis and body shell, Ferrari has kept the F12's weight down to just 1525kg. Which means even with an average-sized driver behind its toggle-laden steering bit, the F12 will still weigh less than an empty BMW 335i.
The brand new motor is a 65° V12 that puts out 544 naturally aspirated kilowatts and 690Nm, through a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox, to the rear wheels. 0-100km/h in 3,1 seconds, 0-200km/h in 8,5 seconds and on to a top speed of 338km/h. With its engine in front, the F12berlinetta has an ideal 46:54 weight distribution, and compared to the company's previous V12 coupé, the car has a lower centre of gravity that is further to the back. The F12 is also shorter, lower and narrower by comparison. Aerodynamics play their part, with an Aero Bridge helping to generate front downforce, and Active Brake Cooling, which opens vanes to the cooling ducts for the carbon ceramic brakes.
Interior detailing includes hand crafted elements, carbon fibre, aluminum and leather. Space and comfort have been optimised, and there's even an option for a passenger-side screen. Although if your passenger is bored enough to be watching DVD's while you're driving this particular car, you're doing it wrong. If you didn't order Ferrari's latest model two years ago, you'll now have to wait about 18 months; the F12berlinetta costs R4 850 000.
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:37
The original Audi A3 is a significant car because it basically started the premium family-hatch movement – a movement that is one of the most popular today and one of the primary reasons that smaller, well endowed cars have eaten away at the executive sedan market.
But while it was the original A3 that kicked everything off, it was the second generation A3, and the first to come with five-doors, that really cemented it as one of the most popular premium hatches on the market.
It had everything: the road manners, practicality and luxury of an executive sedan, but the frugality and nippiness of a hatchback. So it is no doubt that Audi are taking the launch of their new generation A3 Sportback very seriously.
And having owned the previous Sportback (and still do, with the odometer sitting at 100,000km) I feel that I am in a good position to see out it fairs in bringing the range into the next stretch of its live.
What is it?
The new Sportback is the evolution of the latest A3 and wears the new Audi face. It is some 35mm longer than the three-door, all of which has been allocated to improved legroom and luggage space, which is exactly what you want from a five-door vehicle.
The nose of the A3 is something in between the A4 and A1 (which would make perfect sense considering where the car is placed in the line up) but I do feel that it doesn’t quite have its own identity. The strength and brashness of the A1’s looks are really to blame, because it was how we first met the new face of Audi’s smaller cars. But luckily it doesn’t mean that the A3 is not a pretty car – just not a very recognisable one.
The rear is more unique, especially in the Sportback variant; showing off the same stretched rear light clusters that made the original A3 Sportback such a handsome vehicle. The big boot-lip overhang is once again reminiscent of the A1, but I wouldn’t hold it against it. The similarities here are purely brand-synchronisation.
Throne room luxury
But it is behind that exterior that I feel the majority of Audi’s engineering time has gone, because the Sportback’s interior is on a different level compared to its competition.
Futuristic air-vents and intricate switchgear make the Sportback’s cabin feel unique and bespoke compared to the rest of the Audi range, while the thin popup infotainment screen houses the latest Audi MMI software and customisation.
Through it, and the big centre-console mounted dial you can change the cars interior lighting brightness across four different zones, setup the Audi Drive Select system, link your settings to a shortcut button on the multi-function steering wheel, and flip between setting menus without loosing where in the menu tree you last were.
It is most certainly the most mature system that I have come across, and that is for all infotainment systems – not just premium hatchbacks.
One engine to rule them all
Until the S3 is released later this year, this 1.8 TFSI engine is the most powerful petrol A3 in the range, and with a 132 kW and 250 Nm of torque available it does command some respect. Power is delivered through the front wheels via either a manual or dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox, and with the latter the A3 Sportback is able to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.3seconds.
But simply being the most powerful car in the range, doesn’t mean that it is the most sporty; the S-tronic gearbox still feels a bit lifeless paired to this engine when you try and coax out some enthusiastic driving from the pair. The power is there, but the engine doesn’t really want to rev past 5000rpm, and even then it would be happier at the 4k mark.
It is actually the engines efficiency programs that impressed me the most. Shoving the Drive Select from Dynamic to Audi’s Efficient mode changes the way that the power is delivered and how the gearbox shuffles the cogs around. But while the process might as well be black magic to me, the results speak for themselves, and keeping the fuel consumption below 9.0l/100km in city driving is very possible.
The Sportback is surely the toast of the A3 range. It gives up very little in adding two extra doors and gains a whole lot of practicality. It understands that it is the driver that is buying this car and rewards them by surrounding them in a cabin that is bordering on opulence considering the segment.
But while it does carry the battle standard of performance for all A3’s it is not quite able to fulfil on those promises. That is not to say that it is not quick, but it is better suited to use the power for short bursts of overtaking, rather than point-to-point time attacks.
The competition from BMW’s 1-Series and Mercedes-Benz’ A-Class have improved their offering drastically from the previous generation, but the A3 Sportback is still my premium hatchback of choice.