SA's premium automotive magazine

MG in South Africa

MGOctagon set to move up a gear

It has been nearly two years since the return of  MG to South Africa. Up to now the company has offered the MG6 fastback and sedan models, but says the range is set to expand in the near future.

The  MG3 arrives later this year and at least two new products are to join the line-up in 2014.

Production of the MG3 is set to begin shortly, and a local launch is planned for the last quarter of 2013. The new model will initially be available with a four-cylinder petrol engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission. More models will be added to the range in due course.

Until the MG3 arrives, MGSA is focusing on its established MG6, which is available in both fastback and sedan versions. Prices start at R239 900 for the 1.8T Comfort model.  Included in the price is  a year of AA Roadside Assistance, a service plan pegged at three years/90 000 km and a three- year/100000 km warranty. Service intervals are 24 000 km.

MG is owned by the Chinese automotive giant SAIC (Shanghai Automobile Industry Corporation). Its South African activities are known as Mandarin Motors, and fall under Combined Motor Holdings (CMH). Mandarin Motors encompasses both Maxus, on the commercial side, and MG on the passenger side.

Since its return, MG has built a solid dealer network, and currently has 15 outlets spread across South Africa. East London, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Umhlanga, Nelspruit, Rustenburg, Kimberley, Upington and Cape Town all already host MG dealers, and there are plans in place to further expand the network.

Craig Lanham-Love has been appointed as chief operating officer of Mandarin Motors, with Derrick Bishop taking charge as general manager. Lanham-Love comes with a wealth of experience in the importation and distribution business, primarily in the leisure industry incorporating Husqvarna, Sea-doo, Can-am and Evinrude, all under the CMH Marine and Leisure stable. Bishop is well-known in the motor industry, having held senior management positions at  Nissan South Africa for approximately 18 years. Husband and wife team Alan and Terry Horseman are executive directors of Mandarin Motors, and Lionel Hillary heads up Dealer Development.

Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal

Vettel CanadaSeb breaks his duck

Sebastian Vettel broke his Canadian duck yesterday, dominating the Montreal round of this year’s world championship and extending his lead in the title battle to 36 points. Second in the race was Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari driver moving up to second on the log.

But celebrations after a thrilling contest were muted after news filtered through that a track marshal had died in the process of removing Esteban Gutiérrez’s Sauber from the barriers late in the race. The man, who had still not been named at the time of going to press, fell under the wheels of a mobile crane when the car was being removed.

He is the third marshal to have been killed in Formula One since 2000. At the Italian Grand Prix that year Paolo Ghislimberti died after being hit by a wheel that bounced over the barriers after a pile-up at the chicane on the first lap. At the 2001 Australian Grand Prix Graham Beveridge was killed when he was struck by a wheel that had flown through a gap in a safety fence.

Vettel, starting on pole after  cleverly reading the changing conditions during qualifying, leapt into the lead at the start and ran away with the race. Alonso, starting from sixth after a disastrous performance in qualifying, had a dramatic drive into second place, passing Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in the closing stages. Had he started higher up the order, the Spaniard might conceivably have been able to challenge the winner, but he had to battle his way past several cars, earlier also passing Vettel’s team mate, Mark Webber. Hamilton filled the final place on the podium.

Webber was fourth, Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) fifth and Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne scored an impressive sixth place. Paul di Resta, who started on hard rubber and only stopped on lap 56, finished seventh ahead of Felipe Massa, who recovered from a bad crash during qualifying to take eighth after a thrilling battle with Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen, Vettel’s closest pursuer on the points log before Canada, lost second place on the table after finishing a lowly ninth. Tenth went to the second Force Indi of Adrian Sutil. McLaren failed to score points for the first time in 63 races after Button and Perez failed to make the top 10.


Ipsos Automotive Quality Awards

Standout performances from Audi, Lexus and Chevrolet (passenger cars) and Toyota, Chevrolet and Isuzu (commercials)

Keeping the customer satisfied…

Ipsos, the international survey company, has announced its 2013 quality awards for sales and service experience in the South African automotive industry. These awards have been made for the past nine years and have become the benchmark in customer experience.

Ipsos measures the satisfaction when purchasing and servicing vehicles, and recognition is given to top achievers in the following categories: Passenger Vehicle (PC) Purchasing Experience; PC Servicing Experience; Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) Purchasing Experience, and LCV Servicing Experience.

Across both the sales and service environment, top performing passenger car brands this year include Chevrolet, Audi and Volkswagen, while in the light commercial segment Chevrolet, Isuzu and Toyota have delivered the strongest performances.

Passenger Vehicle Purchasing.

The category of PC purchasing enjoys the highest average score for the quality of customer experience at 93.8% “Compliments must go to all of the Gold Award winners who all have traditionally been excellent performers, with scores in this band above 94.4%” states Patrick Busschau, automotive business unit director at Ipsos South Africa.

Gold awards went to Audi, Volkswagen, Chevrolet and Toyota. Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Renault, Volvo, Lexus, Nissan and Mazda received silver awards, with Ford and Peugeot taking bronze.

Passenger Vehicle Servicing.

The category of PC servicing has an average score of 85.8% (up from 84.8% in 2012). Gold award winners in this category are Audi, Chevrolet, Volkswagen and Lexus.  Lexus has maintained Gold in this category for 4 years in a row. “It’s encouraging to see a slight increase in the average in this category,” states Busschau. “Servicing always yields lower scores than purchasing as it is a more challenging environment in which to delight customers. It is essentially a grudge purchase and so the results we are seeing must be extremely pleasing to the industry participants. The top performers exemplify an understanding of customer needs, which in turn affirms a sense of confidence in the brand and the dealership to deliver to the customer’s expectations. This all wraps up a nice little package that delivers value for money in the customer’s mind, with as little hassle and sacrifice as they deem to be reasonable.”

Silver awards went to Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Opel, with Mitsubishi, Renault and Mazda taking bronze.

Light Commercial Vehicle Purchasing Experience

The category of LCV Purchasing Experience has yielded five Gold Awards and a very high category average of 92,7%, up from last year.  This category has traditionally performed at a slightly lower level than the PC purchasing experience, but is catching up to the performance of the passenger segment. “There is still opportunity to separate out the light commercial sales experience from the passenger car experience with a clear focus on the specific needs of the commercial vehicle buyer,” comments Busschau.

Gold awards went to Isuzu, Toyota, Chevrolet, Nissan and Volkswagen. No other makes achieved statistically meaningful scores, so no silver or bronze awards were made.

LCV Servicing Experience

The top achievers for the category of LCV Servicing Experience were Volkswagen, Toyota, Isuzu, Nissan, and Chevrolet, who all made the gold category. The average score for this category has improved again from last year to 86% in 2013, which is very similar to the passenger car service average. “The service areas of dealers have become very good at standardising processes and delivering consistently to customers. Again the zone for improvement in recent times is in the softer skills dealer staff are developing to really make the customer feel important to the dealership and that they are receiving value for money with as little inconvenience as possible,” says Busschau.

Mazda, Ford and Mitsubishi achieved silver, and no bronze award was made.

Continental Milligan Vintage Trial and Tour

MilliganOn the road again…

One of the Eastern Cape’s premier motoring events, the Continental Milligan Vintage Trial and Tour, is set to begin on Sunday 9 June in Port Elizabeth, and has a dazzling line-up of 30 entries representing 18 marques and 11 clubs.
This is the 44th running of the legendary Milligan, and the 14th consecutive year with Continental Tyre South Africa (CTSA) as the title sponsor. The event is hosted and organised each year by the Eastern Province Veteran Car Club (EPVCC).
“The Continental Milligan Vintage Trial is regarded as one of the best events on the motoring calendar, and is always a popular attraction for the Eastern Cape,” says Gishma Johnson, corporate communications manager for CTSA.
“It embodies a fantastic spirit and exceptional enthusiasm for our motoring history, and it’s great to see so many of these beautiful veteran and vintage cars out in action.”
The event kicks off on Sunday 9 June with registration and scrutineering from 9 am at the Protea Marine Hotel in Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth, where the vehicles will be on display throughout most of the day.
As usual, the official send-off  will be a grand affair, and the first vehicle will depart the hotel at 8 am on Monday 10 June. Thereafter the competitors head to Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp and Kareedouw for tea, before making their way via Storms River and Plettenberg Bay through to the overnight stop in Knysna.
The following two days will be spent traversing the scenic mountain routes around George, using the King George Hotel as the overnight venue. The final leg, on Thursday 13 June, ends at Brenton-on-Sea near Knysna. The proceedings will be wrapped up that night with a gala dinner and awards ceremony at the Protea Hotel Knysna Quays. Spectators are welcome and encouraged to view the cars along the route, at the tea stops and at the various hotels.
According to EPVCC chairman Hannes Geyer, last year’s winners, Colin and Anne Meyer from Border Vintage Car Club will be defending their title in a 1963 Mercedes-Benz 220 CE Coupe’. The oldest competitor is 78-year-old Ernest Littleford, who will be competing with his son-in-law Peter Bolze, driving a 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.
Two of the oldest vehicles will be Arthur and Bernice Galway’s 1927 Austin Clifton, as well as Danie and Gwen Gerber’s 1930 Ford Model A Phaeton. Kathy and Angelo Zenios will be competing in their beautiful 1964 Jaguar E-type, and a wide range of other marques will be represented, including Alfa, Austin, Fargo, Ferrari, MG, Peugeot, Rolls-Royce and Valiant.
There is also one overseas entrant from Germany – none other than former CTSA managing director Dr Thorsten Reece, who is competing in his fourth Milligan.
The event featured a great additional attraction last year – the Continental Milligan Vintage Tour, which affords participants the opportunity to follow the Milligan route and festivities, but without competing in the main trial.
Stalwarts Piet “Prok” Coetzee and his wife Poppie from Cradock will continue their remarkable legacy of participating in every Milligan held to date, and will follow the Tour as they did last year.
The Milligan Vintage Trial was originally a one-day event held between Port Elizabeth and East London. The first running took place on 22 August 1970 in memory of the late Bill Milligan, founding member of the EPVCC.
In line with its status as a regularity rally, the car’s odometer and speedometer are sealed. Competitors have to complete each section within the organisers’ stipulated time, which is determined according to various classes that accommodate the wide range and age of vehicles. Penalty points are allocated for arriving at a check point early or late, right down to the second – and the winning team is the one with the fewest penalties.
The route summary is:
Day 1 (Monday 10 June): First car departs Protea Marine Hotel Summerstrand at 08:00, travels via Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp to the tea stop at Assegaai Bosch Country Lodge (11:00 to 12:00). Then on to Kareedouw, Storms River, Plettenberg Bay and overnight at Protea Hotel Knysna Quays
Day 2 (Tuesday 11 June): The Milligan sets off from Knysna at 09:30, travelling through Sedgefield, Wilderness, Great Brak River and ending at the King George Hotel in George
Day 3 (Wednesday 12 June): From George the group drives through Oudtshoorn toward the Cango Caves and back to the King George Hotel via Oudtshoorn
Day 4 (Thursday 13 June): On the final day the Milligan leaves George and travels to Knysna via Wilderness and Sedgefield, visiting Karatara and ending in Brenton-on-Sea. The last night is once again spent at the Protea Hotel Knysna Quays.

Land Rover backs Antarctic expedition

Land Rover AntarcticaIn the footsteps of Captain Scott

Robert Falcon Scott, who lost his life in the  ill-fated Terra Nova mission to the South Pole just over a century ago, is being honoured through a recreation of his epic journey by a modern explorer using modern equipment. British explorer and Land Rover Global Brand Ambassador Ben Saunders, accompanied by professional adventurer Tarka L’Herpiniere, aims to be the first to accomplish the return polar journey using the route of Scott’s heroic attempt.
The 3 000 km trek will be the longest unsupported polar expedition yet made. Equally, it will set new benchmarks in the use of high-tech digital equipment that will enable the pair to send film, images and social media updates direct from Antarctica.
It is the latest challenge for Ben, one of Britain’s most accomplished and experienced explorers. He has been a Land Rover Global Brand Ambassador since 2008 and was supported by the company in another  expedition he made that year, a bid to break the speed record for a solo ski journey to the North Pole.  The latest expedition has the support of Captain Scott’s family too, with his grandson, Falcon Scott as one of its patrons.
As a 21st century explorer, Ben has much more sophisticated equipment and technology to help him reach his goal than Scott and his team could ever have imagined, from advanced clothing materials and equipment, to communications devices that can provide instant contact with the outside world and ensure precise geographic location. The expedition’s “transport”  will be a pair of lightwieight sleds on which Ben and Tarka must haul everything they need to make their journey – each carrying 200kg of food and equipment. The custom made sleds use carbon fibre to keep overall weight down and to withstand the rigours of extreme low temperatures and rough ice terrain.
Although Land Rover vehicles will not play a physical role in Antarctica, they are highly valued by Ben as his transport of choice for all types of occasion – with the versatility to carry all the kit he needs to remote training areas, and play a supporting role in his projects.
Mark Cameron, global brand experience director sat Land Rover, says: “I have huge admiration for Ben and Tarka as their expedition will demand the highest levels of physical and mental fortitude and sheer determination to succeed..  The Scott Expedition is an enormous challenge that honours a heroic spirit of adventure that has endured for more than 100 years, there are very good reasons why no one in history has ever completed this epic polar expedition. We are pleased to support Ben Saunders and the expedition team in their exceptional ambition; it represents perfectly our brand’s heritage and its vision for endurance and achievement in the toughest environments.
“Ben is a true ambassador for Land Rover and the Scott Expedition promises to reinforce his status as a worthy successor to Captain Scott and the other great polar explorers in history.”

Ben Saunders and a pair of Discovery 4s at the Scott memorial in London

Ben Saunders and a pair of Discovery 4s at the Scott memorial in London

Mercedes and Pirelli to appear before tribunal

F1 testingUp before the ‘beak’

Mercedes and Pirelli are to appear before an international tribunal constituted by the FIA to answer questions relating to allegations of illegal tyre testing in Barcelona after the Spanish Grand Prix. Repports say that the test was performed with the current Mercedes F1 car and drivers, in contravention of the rules.

Initially Ferrari were also called upon to explain tests carried out by the Scuderia and the tyre supplier in Barcelona after the Bahrain Grand Prix, but the FIA has now conceded those tests were within the rules as they were conducted with a two-year-okd car, not the current model, and using only reserve driver pedro de la Rosa.

The question is, why would Pirelli, Ross Brawn, Toto Wolf and Mercedes have conducted tests on a recognised track, open to public scrutiny, knowing they were breaking the rules? Among the rumours circulating is one that suggests Mercedes was actually given permission to test the 2013 car by FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting. If that is true, what will the tribunal do?

The FIA Statement, issued on Wednesday night, said, “The FIA requested clarifications from Pirelli and Team Mercedes AMG Petronas F1… The FIA also asked questions to Scuderia Ferrari Team, which took part in a tyre-testing with Pirelli in Barcelona on 23-24 April 2013.

“The FIA requested all the other F1 teams to provide the FIA with information they may have regarding any tests carried out by Pirelli during the 2013 season.

“In the light of all the replies received and in view of the information gathered the president of the FIA, acting as the FIA prosecuting body, has decided: “To close the case as regard to Scuderia Ferrari team considering that its participation in a tyre testing organised by Pirelli in Barcelona on 23-24 April 2013 using for this purpose a 2011 car is not deemed to contravene the applicable FIA rules.

“To bring the case concerning the tyre-testing session carried out by Pirelli and Team Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 in Barcelona on 15-17 May 2013 before the FIA international tribunal because it results from the inquiry that the conditions of this testing may constitute a breach of the applicable FIA rules.

“The FIA international tribunal is called upon to make a decision in compliance with the FIA judicial and disciplinary rules.”


International Engine of the Year 2013

Ford EcoBoost

Ford EcoBoost

Engine excellence

Ford, Fiat… as well as Ferrari and Porsche! The results of this year’s International Engine of the Year Award are an interesting mix of frugality and performance.

First-off, the overall winner, for the second year in a row, is Ford’s 1,0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, the unit powering the Fiesta in Accelerate magazine’s June ‘Triple threat’ face-off. Turn to page 32 of this month’s issue to see how we found it in real-world conditions.

Among the other repeat winners in their segments are VW Group’s 1,4-litre TSI petrol (1,0- to 1,4-litre category); BMW and PSA Group’s 1,6-litre turbo petrol (1,4-litre to 1,8-litre category); BMW’s 2,0-litre turbo petrol (1,8-litre to 2,0-litre division) and Audi’s 2,5-litre turbo inline five-cylinder (2,0-litre to 2,5-litre section).

A new contender that went all the way this year is Fiat’s 0,8-litre two-cylinder turbocharged CNG engine, which got the Green Engine of the Year Award. GM’s 1,4-litre range extender, which won the category last year, had a dramatic fall from grace, dropping to 6th for 2013.

Best Performance Engine this year is Ferrari’s 6,3-litre V12, as used in the F12. The same unit displaced another Ferrari unit, the 458 V8, to take the honours for best engine over 4,0 litres.

Another winner this year was the Porsche Cayman/Boxster 2,7-litre flat-six, which displaced BMW to take the 2,5 to 3,0-litre class. McLaren’s 3,8-litre V8 won the 3,0 to 4,0-litre category, again displacing a BMW unit.

Ferrari V12

Ferrari V12

Porsche Boxster flat-6

Porsche Boxster flat-6

Scirocco-R Cup – SA’s got talent!

SciroccoSA youngsters shine at Spielberg

Kelvin van der Linde claimed a double-victory at the RedBull Ring, near Spielberg in Austria this weekend. Fellow South African, Jordan Pepper, claimed third place in race one and fifth overall (second in the Junior category) in the second race of the weekend.

Van der Linde started race one on Saturday from pole thanks to posting the fastest qualifying time of one minute and 46.686 seconds on the 4.3 km long circuit. The chequered flag here saw him claim his first of two victories on the weekend. The second victory was achieved from an eighth place start on Sunday.

“My start in race one was not good and I was put under immense pressure right from the start,” says Van der Linde. “I tried to save my push-to-pass for the second half of the race and that worked well. I’m extremely happy with my first victory.”

“Overall it was a good race weekend, we faced tough conditions but made the most of them to win both races,” says Van der Linde. “We’re off to a new track next (Norisring) and our focus shifts to secure points in an effort to win the championship. I have to thank Volkswagen and everyone in South Africa for the great support.”

These two young South Africans, both from the local single-make Engen Volkswagen Cup championship, are attracting a great deal of attention with their European motorsport efforts. At round one at Hockenheim, Van der Linde was fourth and Pepper claimed seventh.

After the first two rounds, Van der Linde leads the championship while Pepper holds fourth overall and is also leading the Junior Championship in this series. Their performance is made all the more noteworthy as they get virtually no practise time before each race – and every event takes place on a circuit they have not raced before.

“The performance of these two young South African motorsport talents shows our racers can compete successfully on an international level,” says Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “Both competed in the extremely challenging Engen Volkswagen Cup series last year, a series known as being one of the toughest in the country. The series builds both character and racecraft, the performance both are giving in Germany this year is definite proof of this.”

The next round of the Scirocco R-Cup takes place at the Norisring on 12 and 13 July.

WRC Acropolis and SA Championship Gauteng Toyota Dealer Rally

Latvala-Acropolis-Rally-2013-1024x681Same cars, new winners

The weekend’s rallying, in both the WRC and South Africa’s national series, saw the usual winners so far this season wrong-footed by mechanical niggles, while rival drivers in similar cars made the move to the top step of the podium.

In the WRC evet, the Acropolis, Jari-Matti Latvala claimed his first World Rally Championship win since joining Volkswagen after a fuel-feed problem put log-leader and multiple winner Sebastién Ogier out of the running on the first stage.

Then Latvala spent a few nail-biting hours waiting on a decision by the stewards after Citroën, for whom Dani Sordo had managed second place, protested the presence of extra batteries in the VW entries. The decision went in VW’s favour and Latvala was confirmed the victor in the early hours of the next morning.

HabigThings were completely cut and dried for six-times SA champion Jan Habig, who took his Basil Read-backed Ford Fiesta to a dominant win in the Gauteng Toyota Dealer rally, the third round of the local series, after habitual winner Mark Cronje suffered a gearboc problem early on, then hit a rock into the bargain. Habig came home ahead of the consistent Johnny Gemmel (Toyota Yaris) and Enzo Kuun in the first of the VW Polos.

Launch Pad: Ford Fiesta ST




Fiesta ST 1


Honest Joe hot hatch

Reuben van Niekerk

I started driving in the late 90’s and lusted after cars like Honda Civic V-tecs and Golf VR6s. These were fairly ‘simple’ hatches with – in those days – plenty of power under the bonnet, adequate styling and a soundtrack like few others.

I say simple because they were without all the frills that have seemed to creep into cars these days. It was just four seats, a punchy motor, comfortable interior and air conditioning. Those were the days when anything over 100 kW in a hatch was fireworks.

Driving the latest Fiesta ST around Joburg and Red Star Raceway gave me the same warm fuzzy feeling inside. This car is honest, what you see is what you get. Yes, there are creature comforts, but they are not overwhelming. The ST is a simple package, good engine, gearbox and chassis. What more could a young petrolhead want?

Under the bonnet is a 1,6-litre Ecoboost engine with 134 kW at 5 750 r/min and 240 Nm from 1 600. On overboost, which lasts for 20 seconds, the torque is up to 290 Nm and Ford claim a 0-100 km/h sprint of 6,9 seconds. Impressive stuff. And there should be no need to break the piggy bank to fill up the tank as it is said to use only 5,9 litres of the good stuff per 100 kilometres.

In terms of styling, I think there are enough hints to ensure that everyone knows this is not a regular Fiesta, but at the same time it leaves space for youngsters to do their own thing with the car. Up front there is a trapezoidal grille, and a bodykit, with bigger bumpers, side skirts and spoiler, give it a sportier look. At the rear is a diffuser flanked by twin exhausts. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels round off the package.

Inside the sporty theme is continued with nicely bolstered, yet comfortable Recaro seats, an ST steering wheel and gear shifter as well as aluminium pedals.

When developing the car, engineers listed key factors such as steering, handling, braking, sound quality and performance feel as important. I think for the most part they got everything pretty spot on. However, I do think that the full electric power steering could maybe do with a little bit more feel.

Fords sound sympose system delivers attractive engine noises to the cabin, through a tube in the firewall, and although it is probably fake, it does make the car sound good from the driver’s seat.

Where Ford are definitely winning with this car is in the pricing department. It is really nice to see that one can still get a practical performance car for an affordable price. At R254 000 the Fiesta ST is a great value proposition against its main rival the VW Polo GTi.

And if you need any other reason to buy the Ford, they are the only manufacturer currently competing on all three discipliness of national racing – production cars, rally and off-road. That’s racing heritage right there.