From Godzilla to sculptured

2012-04-27 09:30

» Soccer mum pretender: Mercedes B-Class
The B-Class has finally received a much-needed facelift. The new model has shed its bland styling for a more sculptured look since its local launch in 2006.

According to Mercedes-Benz SA, this is a new breed of compact car that will be the template for future models.

It’s not a seven-seater, but a car mothers will enjoy driving to ferry the kids to and from soccer practice or ballet classes. The manufacturer wants the car to lose the “old people” tag.

Changes on the B-Class include a new chassis and suspension, improved electronic stability, a seven-speed gearbox and more space – not to mention that even the materials feel better inside.

Standard features include the Comand Online system with Bluetooth connectivity and an optional internet function. It’s got more boot space and passengers have a lot more head and legroom.

» The maniac: Nissan GT-R
The GT-R has been dubbed Godzilla, and with menacing looks and monstrous power its nickname is no surprise. This is a car for the grown-up boy racer who wants speed, power and boisterous looks.

It’s constantly evolving and another version has been launched for the 2012 model year. The engine has been fine-tuned pushing the power figures up to 397kW of power and 628Nm of torque from 612Nm yet the car is more economical and produces lower carbon emissions.

It doesn’t look any different to the previous models, but all its enhancements were made under its skin. Areas focused on were the engine, chassis and gearbox.

The car’s body has been strengthened for better handling and to make the driver feel like a superhero behind the wheel. There are special race tuned oils used in all models which are used in racing cars.

The biggest change is the suspension with a new asymmetric development making up for the bigger weight on the driver’s side in right-hand drive models due to the location of the gearbox.

There isn’t much different on the interior as well, except for the standard rear view camera, blue lighting on the instrument cluster and the hefty Bose Precision sound system.

» The funkadelic: Kia Optima
The Koreans have aced their design streaks and made people fall in love with the looks of their cars.

It’s for the family that needs space, wants something different in looks and comes with all the bells and whistles. The funky sedan has the well-known tiger-nose grill seen on all new Kia models, giving it a sporty look.

The 2.4-litre model comes with a six-speed gearbox and it’s packed with standard niceties. These include xenon headlights with daytime running lights, keyless entry with a stop-start function, 18-inch wheels, rear view camera and a panoramic sunroof.

While the automatic gearbox might be a bit of a let-down for speed demons, it will make being stuck in traffic a pleasure. You will nod your head in approval to the chrome-tipped dual exhaust pipes, solar glass, the indicators on the mirrors and fog lights.

What’s most impressive is the huge amount of legroom all round, without making the car seem huge on the outside.

» The offroader: Audi Q3
Audi has launched an even smaller SUV with the Q3 model, but it’s a ball of fun on the offroad. It chews gravel and speedbumps are barely an obstacle.

At a glance, it looks rather big and it’s difficult to imagine that it’s actually smaller than the Q5, yet it’s shorter and smaller in build.

It looks like a typical Audi inside with the neat consoles and instrument cluster and the quality materials, but there isn’t anything that stands out as different.

In fact, it almost looks like the baby A1 on steroids. There is a list of petrol and diesel derivatives to choose.

Depending on the model, features include 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon lights, cruise control, park-distance control and the multi media infotainment system (MMI).

The new Audi Connected systems are not yet available for the Q3 models. By the way, just because it’s smaller doesn’t mean it’s a cheapie. Pricing starts at R370 000 for the entry-level model.

» The realist: BMW 3 series
The BMW 3 Series is the world’s best selling premium car, and it’s also the most popular in South Africa. The sixth generation model will only add to its popularity with its sportiness.

The 3 Series is practical and reliable and young people dream of owning as it symbolises their success.

The new line-up comes in three different trim levels known as sport, luxury and modern. New features include a full-colour heads-up display, a sportier suspenion, the latest TwinPower turbo technology with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and the standard auto-stop start function.

On the looks front, the silhouette is wider, more squat and the kidney grille is slanted more forward.

The boot is also bigger providing 20 litres more. There’s also a nifty “comfort access” package available as optional which lets you open the boot by moving your foot underneath the car.

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