There were some epic vehicles launched in 2022, along with some good bakkies. News24 Motoring editor Janine Van der Post picks three of the sportiest ones she's driven this year.
We've seen it all in 2022, all-new bakkies, SUVs galore, budget buys, and especially a bevy of Chinese vehicles making a significant impact in our local market.
Chery has marked its return with a bang, selling more than 10 000 vehicles in its first year back in the market, an incredible success story we all have to applaud. Their products are decked with all the bells and whistles, well-built, and extremely competitively priced. BAIC also launched a new model in the form of its stunning new Beijing X55.
And then there were some cars for those who could afford something extra, and who don't have to concern themselves too much about fuel bills. While my list might not define true sports cars, they're sporty nonetheless and somewhat fall into this category, whether it's a hot hatch, coupe, or a thoroughbred sports car.
Yes, electric vehicles is the direction we're steering to, but while there are still internal combustion engines to enjoy, these petrol-fuelled options will make you lick your lips.
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Audi is known for its minimalist design, almost clinical if you want to call it that. And while their cars are well built and engineered for precision driving, I can't help but feel that it's all become the same. You get into one Audi, and it's the same as the next, to the point that once you're behind the wheel, you almost can't set it apart from one of its sister models in the German stable's line-up. Of course, you'll know the difference between an R8 and one of the brand's electric vehicles.
So when the RS 3 Sedan arrived in our test garage earlier this year, I was very surprised at the emotions it stirred in my heart. And clearly, I hadn't felt this way about an Audi since the last time I drove its V10 R8.
Vorsprung durch Technik might be the company slogan, but somehow the brand has brought back fun in a big way with its new RS 3 models. Under the bonnet, there's the sensational 2.5-litre engine delivering 294kW and 500Nm. It has a claimed top speed of 250km/h and a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 3.8 seconds.
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Inside the car there's fine Nappa leather, loads of contrast stitching in the same shade as the body colour - the one we had on test was painted in bright Kyalami Green. There are loads of accentuating accents inside, but a bit too many for my liking. I also noted that the vehicle only had 4 000km on the clock, but yet the green material on the sporty steering wheel was already fading. With that said, I also know this car has done its fair share of being shared around in the media pool.
But that's all forgiven in any case because it's just such a fantastic car, and goodness are those front sporty seats unbelievably comfortable and plush. I would want to fork out extra for a 360-degree view camera if there's that option, just because the car is incredibly low and it would work a treat for curbs when parking or gong over speed bumps. With a price tag of R1 245 000, I'd say it's worth every hard-earned rand spent.
2 - Ford Mustang California Special
Who doesn't love a V8? That irresistible growl soothing your soul every time you give the accelerator pedal more love. Ford has found a great way of keeping its tiny model range relevant in SA - and that's to introduce special edition models every so often to keep their range fresh.
The California Special is available exclusively in the fastback coupé body style, and under its muscular bonnet, there's the renowned 5.0-litre V8 engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission delivering 330kW and 529Nm. It also has an active valve performance exhaust that makes you want to cruise along listening to that glorious burble all day long, especially when driving in peak traffic. Obviously, the more you feed the throttle, the more the engine breathes even louder, instantaneously making you want to give this pony horns.
As a limited edition model for South Africa, all 100 models which had been allocated for the local market has long been gobbled up, but if you're keen on getting your hands on one - you'll have to wait until it hits the used car directories.
3 - Hyundai I30 N
I've saved the best for last, as this is probably my favourite car of the year. Launched much earlier in 2022, the opportunity to drive this delectable vehicle only crossed my path a couple of weeks ago. And it was worth the very long wait.
Volkswagen's GTI and Golf R will always remain the most popular in South Africa, and its "Vrr-Pha" title will never be dethroned if local fans have anything to do with it, but in my books, the I30 N trumps it over and over again. It just has so much more pazazz and soul than its German rivals, and because it's so unexpected, it just adds to its je ne sais quoi.
This Hyundai is probably the most thirsty model I have driven all year from the Korean stable, but when driving conservatively in Eco mode, I could achieve a reading of 7.0-litres/100km. Put it in Sport mode and the rowdy exhaust system will have conversations with your heart, even while driving under 3 000rpms.
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The I30N made waves for all the right reasons when it was launched locally in 2020, and it's given the glorified GTI a proper run for its money. Hyundai then launched its updated model in April this year, and this time, the automaker mated its 2.0-litre petrol engine with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) and swapping out its terrific 6-speed manual gearbox. Power figures are up a tad with 206kW and 392Nm. It has a claimed top speed of 250km/h and reaches zero to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds.
But it's the driving dynamics that thrill me here. The I30N was pretty good when it was made its debut here in SA, but now it's even better. Yes, the manual gearbox is sorely missed, but Hyundai needed to go with the current trends of an auto gearbox - and they couldn't have made a better choice. Steering feedback has been drastically improved and it handles even better than before. It has a delicious raspy exhaust that you'll never get enough of too. Worth R764 900? Every single time!