The atmosphere at the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) defied the current local motoring climate. Despite burdens atop motorists’ shoulders – like burgeoning fuel prices and the prospect of forking out for freeway use – attendance at the public opening on Friday was impressive.
It’s an interesting time for the car as we know it; with automakers striving to stay relevant in this age of frenetic eco-friendliness. Established players who many would have expected to stay obstinate, have re-written their rulebooks.
In addition to wooing with their power and beauty, contemporary supercars must also show commitment to the environment. But if it’s good ol’ fashioned horsepower you’re after, you won’t be disappointed. We compiled a list of the important stuff you should check out. JIMS closes its doors next Sunday; so make haste to Nasrec Exhibition Centre.
Hiding on a platform behind dreary sedans like the Ballade, this hybrid sportster is probably the most exciting thing on the automaker’s stand. Fans will undoubtedly be pleased by the return of this nameplate – one that we never got to see in South Africa. But the likelihood of this iteration making it here is much higher. Expect some nightlife too at the Honda section. They’ve created a Brio club, where tricked-out versions of the A-segment car sit illuminated by purple disco lighting.
What M Power? The duo that attracted the most attention were the i3 and i8 electric cars. These are exciting pieces of proof that the future is here now. BMW will be launching the little i3 in South Africa next year. It looks as odd in the flesh as it does in the pictures, with skinny tyres and an egg-like shape. Check out the roomy interior and rustic fixtures supposedly made in a green manner. The sleeker i8 lives up to the legend of attractive two-door BMW models from days of yore. Scissor doors complete the package.
The bevy of beauties gracing the Audi stand are nothing short of catwalk material. Gentlemen, dash your hopes of extracting phone numbers. The male models strutting around look like they were picked from the movie Zoolander. Not that Audi needed eye candy. The cars speak for themselves. The forthcoming S3 looks more exciting than its non-S siblings. Feast your eyes on a host of RS models as well as a white R8 V8. We’re looking forward to the A3 saloon.
The German automaker adopted an eco-conscious theme, with models like the Jetta Hybrid, Golf BlueMotion and e-Up! electric city-car. These are glimpses of what we don’t get locally. The Scirocco GTS is something you can have though; it’s essentially a racier version of the standard coupe. The GTS package adds R19 000 to the standard sticker price of the car. We like the bold and beautiful Cross Coupe, which also showcases a pretty impressive hybrid powertrain. Pop past their Commercial Vehicles section and gaze at the Amarok Worthersee Concept: think of it as an Amarok GTI.
It’s almost as though Mercedes-Benz is giving a one-finger salute to the Green Movement. Petrolheads will take delight in the array of beastly Benz models on show, including the SLS AMG Black Series and C63 AMG Edition 505. The “entry-level” performance hatchback in their range, the A45 AMG is also on display along side its saloon sibling, the CLA45 AMG. They’re not going to let Audi and BMW seize the compact crossover segment either, so they’re entering the GLA into the fray. Its on the stand in striking red and it doesn’t look bad.
No surprise. Most of the stuff on the Toyota stand you could probably see at your local dealership. But there are two gems you’re going to want to get a closer look at. First up is the FT-86 Open Concept, a topless version of the 86 sports car which is doing pretty well for the manufacturer locally. It’s unequivocally pretty wearing its gleaming white shade of paint and large alloys. Be sure to check out Toyota’s hybrid Le Mans racer too.
Citroen and Peugeot
The sexy GQ Concept is the centrepiece, donning a bright shade of red and curves more sensual than the models strutting about the stand. You can also check out our favourites like the DS5 and a shiny chrome version of the DS4 crossover. And there’s the new C4 Picasso which is due in South Africa next year. The Audi TT-S has some competition from France in the form of the 195kW Peugeot RCZ R. Everybody loves the lioness-like styling of the car and in R guise it looks meaner. The new Peugeot 2008 shows their intention to take on the compact crossover segment.
The Clio RS will join the compact hot hatchback fray soon and you can inspect, prod and play with one at their stand. We were most keen to try out that sound box system – which allows you to change the engine note to those of other cars like the Clio V6 and Nissan GT-R. But they didn’t have the keys. They’ve got the special Megane RS Red Bull RB8 Edition on show. Savour it, because you’re unlikely to see one often since they’re available in very limited numbers. There’s also the Duster Maxx; an angrier-looking concept of the Duster launched here last month.
It’s nice to see an abundance of Opel models on the stand, especially since the dearth of models on our market – until recently. The brand is on the up in South Africa, with 2013 seeing the launch of models like the Astra OPC and Astra sedan. Take a look at the Mokka, a small crossover, which is likely to be launched here. They’ve also got the very funky Adam – which we spent a fair amount of time checking out. It’s a rival to the Mini and Audi A1. Opel needs to bring this here. Mostly because it has a ceiling with lighting mimicking a starry night sky. If you haven’t seen the Corsa Nurburgring Edition yet, it’s on the stand.
Jaguar and Land Rover
So many desirable cats adorn the Jaguar stand. Expect to see the XFR-S, a rival for the venerable BMW M5. There’s the XJR super saloon as well as the F-Type which is making waves, having made it as a finalist in the South Africa Car of The Year competition. Land Rover is showing off their new Range Rover Sport, which will be in showrooms before the year ends.
One word: tease. Chevrolet placed a topless Camaro on the stand, in delicious orange, even though it’s unlikely to ever make it to the South African market in right-hand drive. Worse still, they stuck “do not touch, do not open” on the thing. There is a small consolation prize though, that’s the Sonic RS. This is a model you can have. It’s got a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine and it looks mean. Now, it’s not made to rival authentic hot hatchbacks like the Opel Corsa OPC or Ford Fiesta ST. Instead, it’ll take on the Suzuki Swift Sport and we heard that pricing will be similar.
The flattering motor show lighting and a strategic arrangement of mirrors did a good job of accentuating just how far Lexus has come in terms of design. You’re going to marvel at the sharpness of saloons like the IS. Two of the most interesting cars on the stand are the ES 250 and of course, the LFA supercar. The ES 250 is worth a look, because is represents an easier way into the brand – purported to be priced cheaper than the IS, yet it’s closer in size to the ES. And the LFA is interesting because, well, it’s the LFA.
Behold the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. Apparently erratic exchange rates are the reason you can’t have it just yet. For now this market has to make do with the very asthmatic normally aspirated version. Feast your eyes on the model with enough grunt to do justice to the Veloster’s sharp looks. The turbocharged derivative produces 150kW and 265Nm of torque. According to Hyundai, it’ll be here in the first half of next year.
Things are going from strength to strength for Great Wall Motors and at JIMS you’ll see their intentions to gain strongholds in the saloon and crossover markets. There’s the M4 – of no relation at all to the BMW performance car. It’s a compact urban crossover hoping to fight with the Opel Mokka and Peugeot 2008. Then there’s the C50 sedan, which looks like a mishmash between the Opel Astra sedan and Honda Civic sedan. The interior isn’t too bad though and there’s no distinctive adhesive smell, which seems to characterise most of these Chinese cars. GWM also hopes their C30 (no relation to Volvo) will win in the B-segment sedan playing field.
Feast your eyes on some Fusion cooking with the Ford Fusion. It looks like a budget Aston Martine Rapide. But don’t hold your breathe. Big sedans – except the premium German kind – aren’t in fashion locally and Ford doesn’t have hopes to bring the car here. Also look at the exciting Ford Evos concept car (pictured).