The 2013 Johannesburg International Motor Show - glitz, glitter and glamour at Africa’s largest motoring festival

17 October, 2013

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The 2013 Johannesburg International Motor Show at the Expo Centre, Nasrec, kicked off on a high note on Wednesday morning, with all the major SA manufacturers and importers showcasing their latest, grandest and technologically most advanced offerings.

A striking feature of the first morning’s presentations at the country’s and Africa’s largest motor show was an emphasis on power and performance – especially by the German manufacturers of luxury cars. Mercedes-Benz, with various AMG models, BMW, with their M cars, and Audi, with their RS offerings, gave a strong signal that beautiful and driver-friendly performance cars will be with us for a long time to come.

At the same time, in line with the world-wide emphasis on eco-friendly motoring and the pressure on motor companies to embrace sustainable solutions, most of the manufacturers also had either full electric, hybrid or plug-in hybrid models on their stands.

The highlight of the first day was without doubt the unveiling of the new Toyota Corolla, which will be launched in South Africa during the first quarter of next year. Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota Motors SA, said in his presentation that a Corolla is sold every second somewhere in the world. In South Africa more than a million Corollas have been sold to date, and the latest model will continue that sales success.

Also new on the Toyota stand are the latest, thoroughly face-lifted Prado SUV, and the Etios 1.5 Sport Hatch, which will go on sale for a very affordable R138 900. On the sporty side, Toyota has a replica of their Le Mans TS030 Hybrid racer, which finished second in this year’s gruelling 24-Hour with drivers Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin.

Mercedes-Benz are displaying their full range of powerful, luxurious and delectable models. However, the car that created the most interest was the new M-Class Guard, a special-protection variant of the M-Class. As with all Mercedes-Benz Guard models, the armoured version of this popular SUV bristles with protection systems – while at the same time offering passenger-car luxury, ride comfort and agile driving dynamics.

Two other models which will definitely attract visitors to the Mercedes-Benz stand are the GLA, a compact SUV with permanent all-wheel drive, which will be available with a choice of four engines (petrol and diesel), and the CLA, a compact four-door coupé with which Mercedes-Benz is entering a new segment. Two petrol engines, 1,8 and 2,0 litre, are employed to power the new coupé.

Interestingly enough, Audi also had an armoured, bullet-proof model on display – the A8 Security, a long-wheelbase 4x4 Quattro version of their popular flagship model, powered by a massive six-litre, 382kW engine. The A8 Security can even withstand a hand-grenade attack.

Other new models from this German manufacturer include the RS Q3 Quattro, a compact SUV with a two-litre, five-cylinder turbo engine, set for its SA launch in 2014, the Audi S3 Sportback, the RS7 Sportback, with a four-litre V8 cylinder-on-demand engine delivering a massive 412kW and 700N.m of torque, and a brand new model, the very attractive A3 sedan. This Audi, powered by a 1,8-litre turbo engine, will be available from January 2014.

Renault enthusiasts will find all their favourite models on the French manufacturer’s stand, including the Megane, Fluence, Clio, Sandero and the newly-launched Duster 4x4. An interesting exhibit is a three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with a displacement of only 898cm3, which delivers a very acceptable 66kW and 135N.m of torque. Fuel consumption is a mere 4,5 litre/100km.This engine will be employed in the Clio.

The star on Volkswagen’s stand was the new Golf7 TDI BlueMotion, Europe’s 2013 Car of the Year. The two-door, five-seater on display can reach a top speed of 200km/h – but the amazing feature of this Volkswagen is that its fuel consumption is a mere 3,2 litre/100km! This means that one can travel more than a 1 000km on its 50-litre tank.

Other eye-catching models on the Volkswagen stand are a Jetta Hybrid, powered by a 110kW TSI engine and a 20kW electric motor, the electric e-up!, a small city car for daily commuting with a range of 160km on a full charge, and the Cross Coupe Hybrid, a large all-wheel drive SUV capable of a top speed of 220km/h. Remarkably, this car, powered by two electric motors and a direct injection petrol engine, has a fuel consumption which really boggles the mind – only 1,8 litres/100km!

Like Mercedes-Benz, BMW are displaying their full range of delectable models, including the brand new X5 SUV, which will be available in SA in February 2014. The message from BMW is: “The Boss is Back!”

Two eco-friendly BMWs that have attracted world-wide interest are the i3, a small zero-emission electric car scheduled for introduction in SA in 2014. With its passenger cell made from reinforced carbon-fibre plastic and BMW eDrive technology designed to deliver zero-emission driving, the first series-produced model from the BMW i brand heralds a new era in mobility.

In addition, a second i model, the BMW i8, a striking and futuristic 2+2 sports model, combines a plug-in hybrid drive system with a petrol engine to deliver a scintillating performance.

Also on the BMW stand is the BMW X4 Concept with its “fleetline” type design. This car gives a preview of the future of the BMW X family, and it is at first glance obvious how smoothly the BMW X model can blend with the genes of a BMW coupé. The new Activity Coupé concept is poised to continue the success story of the BMW X6 in a new vehicle class.

Ford have their full complement of products at the 2013 show, and motorsport enthusiasts will also be able to see and touch Gary Formato’s Castrol Ford Focus ST, in which he competes in the Bridgestone Production Car series, the Ford Fiesta rally car of championship leaders Mark Cronjé and Robin Houghton, and the mighty Ford Ranger that will take part in the 2014 Dakar Rally.

Seen for first time in South Africa, Ford are showcasing their Evos Concept – a gull-winged beauty that represents the ultimate expression of the company’s new global design language. Ford also unveiled two new models destined for local introduction: The Fusion, a large, luxurious sedan due here in the next 12 months, and the 2-ton Transit, a huge van that will arrive in the first half of 2014.

Not to be outdone by die luxury German marques, Lexus have their full bouquet of desirable models on display, including the quite stunning mid-engined and rear-wheel drive LFA sports car with a 4,8-litre V10 engine and a 0 to 100km/h sprint time of only 3,7 seconds. The LFA has a top speed of 325km/h.

Pride of place at the Lexus stand, however, belongs to the all-new Lexus ES 250, a luxury mid-sized sedan powered by a 2,5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with duel-VVT-i technology that controls valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts for optimal performance and efficiency at all engine speeds.