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The 2010 motoring year – from A to Z

The 2010 motoring year – from A to Z
Adam Schoeman

 

The range consists of three models – a two-litre TFSI front-wheel drive, and two quattros, powered by a 3,2-litre V6 petrol, and a three-litre TDI. The Sportback is a direct rival of the BMW 5GT, but looks more compact, and more wieldy. We’ll be testing one very soon.

And here’s something special for performance fans. If you fancy the idea of five cylinders, quattro all-wheel drive and 250 kW, the TT-RS is for you. Audi hopes to take on the Porsche Cayman S with this little monster, which arrives in coupé form first. The roadster version follows later. Both models sprint from zero to100 in about 4.6 seconds. Pricing is around the R700K mark.

Over at rival BMW, one of the key launches this year is the arrival of the BMW X1. It’s almost as big as the current X3, but with a stronger emphasis on sporty road manners, making it more of a crossover than a SUV. And it will be offered in 4×2 and 4×4 versions, with the emphasis very much on turbodiesel underpinnings. The X1 should arrive on our shores in about April this year.

But by far BMW’s biggest launch in 2010 will be the debut of the all-new Five Series. While the current model started off looking quirky, this newcomer looks sleek and desirable from the word go.

It draws its styling cues from both the larger Seven and the smaller 3-Series, with the short front overhang a strong visual trademark. There’s a big push for efficiency and lower emissions, so expect smaller, but cleaner and still eager engines. It should arrive here in May, just before the World Cup starts.

If, like us, you feel that the new-generation Z4 could do with some more muscle then the arrival of the Z4 sDrive35iS will be welcome news. The twin-turbo straight-six now delivers 250 kW, while a direct-clutch transmission is standard. The zero to 100 time is 4,8 seconds, and the M Sports styling package can be ordered with lesser Z4 versions, too. Imagine a shoot out between this Z4 and the Audi TT-RS.

Arguably BMW’s most controversial car this year will be the 5 Series Grand Turismo, which previews some of the new Five’s underpinnings, but in a package that is likely to polarise opinion. BMW says it links the dynamics of a sporty sedan to the space and luxury of a limousine, and the versatility of an estate car. We’d rather buy an X5, or wait for the new Five sedan to arrive.

Our next group includes a resurgent Citroën, which is clearly intent on making inroads locally, as well as the Italians, in the form of Alfa, Fiat and  the ever evocative and aspirational Ferrari. And if you’re into big cars, take a look at the new Bentley Mulsanne, and the Aston Martin Rapide …

The new Citroën C3 is one of several new Citroën models to debut locally this year. It replaces both the current C3 and the C2, and is aimed at upping the image of the often off-beat French brand. The result is a solid, well-equipped and  nippy subcompact with pleasing finishes and a choice of 1400 and 1600 engines. It arrives here in March.

Before that, you’ll come across a head-turning box on wheels that has already earned big praise abroad. The C3 Picasso is young, fun and practical, with plenty of space, and a compact footprint. This could well be the car to put Citroën back on the map.

By April, expect to welcome the Citroën DS3, an altogether more upmarket and aspirational hatchback that has the Mini squarely in its sights. The styling is avant garde, the interior sumptuous, and the dynamics smooth and sophisticated. T

Think big-car prestige in a compact shape, and you get the basic picture. More DS models will follow, creating an upmarket sub-brand in the process.

Of course, Citroën has a lot of work to do in SA: the French parent company has taken over the management reins from the AMH group, and is busy revitalising the local operation. All those new models are part of that freshening-up process.

On a completely different note, the new Bentley flagship, and successor to the Arnage, is the Bentley Mulsanne and although it’s been designed under the stewardship of owners Volkswagen, it seems to have all the real Bentley hallmarks: including a big 375 kW V8. It arrives here in October.

Also due here from the UK this year is Aston Martin’s spin on the four-door coupé ball. The Aston Martin Rapide looks swift and elegant, carrying off the extra length, girth and the addition of two rear doors with aplomb. And it’s still  a sports car, with a 350 kW V12 allowing a 5,3 seconds zero to 100 time.

By comparison, the compact Alfa Mito is a rather more humble machine, but new Multi-Air engine technology will add further brio to the sexy little hatchback. The range topper is a 125 kW Green Cloverleaf version, with stiffer chassis and bigger wheels to match. It should launch locally in May.

Fiat’s major news this year will be the June/July arrival of the Punto Evo, with 1,4-litre Multi-Air engines. A turbo version is a definite starter. The Evo is smarter, larger and better equipped than the current version, which remains as the Punto Emotion,  and now becomes Fiat’s budget contender.

The biggest event on the local General Motors calendar will be the launch of the new Chevrolet Spark. Much is expected of this ultra-compact budget beater, which should set high standards of specification, safety and performance, linked to very keen pricing. Engine choices span one-litre and 1,2-litre four-cylinder units, and there will be at least two spec levels.

It’s already being called Ferrari’s best road car ever, and the indications are that the 458 Italia will live up to those expectations when the first lucky owners take delivery of their steeds here this year. The newcomer replaces the F430, and makes extensive use of F1 technology. A 420 kW 4,5-litre V8 ensures that there’s go to match the show, too.

Honda chose Detroit as the venue for the world debut of its CR-Z hybrid sports hatch. A 1,5-litre VTEC engine with Honda’s parallel hybrid drive offers 92 kW and 174 Nm, which sounds a little lame. The gearbox is a six-speed manual. But it looks great – and it’s definitely on its way to SA. Expect it here late this year.

The Kia Venga is a vehicle we will definitely see in SA. It’s a so-called mini-MPV, and will go head to head with the Citroën C3 Picasso, as well as Kia’s own Soul crossover. The Venga is more streamlined and prettier than the Soul, but also less extrovert. Interior packaging is said to be impressive, while engine choices should include Kia’s 1400 and 1600 Gamma petrol engines, and a 1600 turbodiesel.

Staying with the Koreans, Hyundai will replace the ageing Tucson with the smart, edgy iX35 compact SUV in March or April. The newcomer has a stronger, more contemporary presence, and will again be offered in petrol and diesel versions, with a choice of front or four-wheel drive.

A Kia version, replacing the Sportage and sharing the same platform, arrives towards year end. Meanwhile, expect a Santa Fe facelift, too.

One of the luxury car events of the year is likely to be the debut of the all-new Jaguar XJ, which sheds its traditionally boxy sheet metal for a swoopy, fastback design that won’t please traditionalists. But, like the XF, the XJ breaks new ground, and will undoubtedly be good enough to make the Germans nervous.

That’s also the intention of premium brand Lexus, who will start off the year with the release of the 311 kW, V8-powered IS-F sedan. It’s meant to go head to head with BMW’s M3 and the Mercedes C65 AMG.

Already on sale after a late 2009 release is the IS250 Convertible, which combines the sedan’s elegant lines with an all-metal fold-down roof. But at  R550K, its appeal will be limited.

Lexus certainly seems to be spreading its wings, and with the brand likely to unveil its first premium compact hatch to take on the A3 and BMW 1-Series in Europe later this year, expect it to capture increasing market share.

One of the real success stories in Europe in 2009 was the launch of the Lotus Evora – the sports car marque’s unique, mid-engined 2+2 coupé. Lotus has pulled out all the stops, and the result promises to link exceptional driver appeal to a reasonably sized interior and decent appointments.

A Toyota-sourced V6 ensures ample dynamic talent, too, including a sub 4-second zero to100 sprint. Local sales should start in March.

The long-awaited ‘baby’ Roller will also arrive locally this year. Based on an extended BMW Seven Series platform, the Rolls Royce Ghost is anything but small, and its unmistakably Rolls.

The tall stance, upright grille, regal interior and traditional finishes are all there, but linked to cutting-edge underpinnings, including a 6,6-litre twin-turbo V12. Pricing, as always, is on request.

An early contender for the ugliest car of the year has to be the Mini Countryman, which is Mini’s first foray into SUV territory. It features four doors, a raised stance, and optional all-wheel drive, and will be offered in Cooper and Cooper S forms. A diesel version may also be offered locally, which would be a Mini first for SA.

The Countryman is one of a growing number of new Mini derivatives planned for the next two years. This concept coupé is close to production, and will offer a purist driving experience. There’s also talk of a GTI-rivalling four-door Cooper S, using a sleeker version of the Countryman’s four-door shell.

Glamorous is perhaps the best word to describe the Maserati Gran Cabrio, a four-seater convertible with the heart of a true sport car. The 323 kW V8 is linked to a conventional six-speed auto gearbox, which makes it more of a cruiser than a bruiser. Still, it gets to100 from rest in 5,4 seconds, and top speed is 283 km/h. The first examples should be here this quarter.

Announced just as we were putting together this show, the new Mazda5 is an even sleeker, more attractive people carrier than its underrated predecessor. The smart lines disguise a spacious interior and decent appointments, while flexible seating and cargo arrangements ensure versatility. There’s no news on the local launch timing.

Arguably one of the most evocative cars destined for our shores this year is the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. A contemporary tribute to the original 300SL Gullwing supercar of the 1950s, the SLS is the first car developed and produced completely under the AMG banner.

While much of the Gullwing’s visual essence has been retained, performance promises to be startling, even by 21st Century standards. The 6,3-litre V8 pumps out 420 kW, allowing a 3,8 second slingshot to 100 from rest, and a 315 km/h top speed.

More conventional – and more affordable – is the roadster version of Nissan’s impressive 370Z Coupé. The car has the same drivetrain as the tin-top, including a choice of manual or auto gearboxes, and a system that blips the throttle on downshifts.

It really is starting to look like 2010 won’t only be remembered as the World Cup year here in South Africa, but also as the year of the French.

We’ve already previewed the extensive new model activity of Citroën, but both Peugeot and Renault also have a very busy 12 months ahead of them. Another trend-setter expected to cause a stir in 2010 is the new four-door coupé from Porsche.

Porsche has been selling Panamera locally since last year, and already offers the Turbo, Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S versions. But any real volume will come from the upcoming V6 version, which Porsche hopes will bolster global demand, including SA.

Much more eye-catching is the Boxster Speedster, arguably Porsche’s most attractive rendition of the open-topper to date. Pity they couldn’t come up with a more elegant solution for the quick-fit roof, though. It’s easily the quickest Boxster ever, thanks to the 235 kW flat six of the Cayman S, and it’s the most hardcore, too.

On the subject of hardcore, the new-generation Renault Mégane RS will reach our shores this year – and should again become a firm favourite among hot hatch fanatics. Based on the latest Mégane Coupé, the RS gets a turbocharged two-litre engine good for 184 kW and 340 Nm. There’s still a manual gearbox, and drive is to the front wheels.

The RS looks menacing on the move, thanks to the low stance, big wheels and tapered side window aperture. It promises to be quicker and more poised than its predecessor, while benefitting from the New Mégane’s improved quality levels. Sales should start here in October.

Talking of the New Mégane, the 1.4-litre turbo versions of the five-door hatch and the coupé have now been added to the range launched last year. The 1400 turbo unit delivers 96 kW and 190 Nm. The 0-100 dash takes 9,6 seconds, while combined cycle fuel consumption is only 6,6 litres/100 km.

Also new from Renault is the striking Laguna Coupé, featuring a 3,5 litre V6 with 175 kW and 330 Nm on tap. A six-speed auto gearbox with manual shift option is standard. But the big news is 4Control four-wheel steering, which delivers exceptional road holding.

While the Laguna Coupé debuts in March, the new Renault Fluence will arrive in the second half of 2010. The newcomer is a handsome sedan with clean, flowing lines, and is aimed at the more conservative buyer seeking a compact but well equipped sedan.

Peugeot is another French manufacturer with big new model plans in 2010. The Peugeot 5008 is the brand’s next-generation MPV, and links a spacious interior to several versatile seating arrangements. It will be offered in petrol and diesel derivatives.

But Peugeot’s key new model this year is the 3008, a crossover vehicle that breaks traditional boundaries and combines the best attributes from the SUV, MPV and hatchback segments. It also bristles with high-tech extras, including an innovative traction assistance system dubbed Grip Control, which enhances grip in a variety of conditions. It goes on sale here in February.

Volkswagen will finally release the ultimate performance Golf in the form of the VW Golf R, a 199 kW monster with 4Motion all-wheel drive, a choice of manual or DSG gearboxes, and an eye-catching body kit. VW claims a 5,5 second 0 to 100 dash, but says the Golf R also achieves impressive fuel efficiency. Combined cycle consumption comes to 8,4 litres/100 km only.

But VW kicked off the new model year early with the Cape Town launch of the New Polo last week. It looks like a smaller Golf 6, which intimates a more upmarket execution, a larger footprint, and much improved interior trim and space.

The initial range includes 1400 and 1600 cc petrol engines, and a 1600 TDI turbodiesel, with all but one variant employing a five-speed manual gearbox. Performance models come later, including a GTI pocket rocket. The Polo is produced in Uitenhage for local and export sales.

The Amorok is Volkswagen’s one-ton contender in the important bakkie market. Produced in South America, the Amorok made its global debut in a support vehicle role at the recent Dakar Rally Raid, and should go on sale here in October or November.

Suzuki will continue adding new models to its line-up during 2010. Finally earmarked for local launch is the Suzuki Swift Sport, powered by an uprated 1600 cc engine, and boasting a stiffer chassis, bigger wheels and a revised interior.

The SX4 lifestyle hatchback also comes under the spotlight with the arrival of an all-wheel drive version. The new derivative’s arrival coincides with several small exterior upgrades, while the engines are more powerful, and more fuel efficient. A CVT gearbox option has been added, too.

And finally, a sedan version of the SX4 could also debut locally, in line with the local operation’s intentions to extend the range even further. It’s designed to please more conservative car buyers.

With more than one newcomer reaching SA’s shores every week, and the FIFA Soccer World Cup accounting for a month or more of football, the 2010 motoring year promises to be exciting – if the credit crunch doesn’t come back to bite us!

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