The local vehicle market has seen a raft of new product introduction thus far, this year. Some impressive new technologies have become available to customers and to help you be the reference source of everything authoritative about automotive issues in your circle of friends, we’ve listed five of the most important new vehicles launches this year.
1. Jaguar I-PACE – Bringing the future forward
Only a few years ago, Jaguar only made two-door sportscars and limousines. Now the company’s anchor business is SUVs and it has shown the way by stealing the march on all rivals in the South African electric vehicle market. Supply might be limited, and the price classified as relatively unaffordable (hardly an issue for potential Jaguar customers), but the I-Pace debuts a remarkable electric vehicle architecture.
Supported by Jaguar’s unprecedented local investment in recharging infrastructure, I-Pace is the first local electric vehicle with truly usable range, in excess of 400km. True to its Jaguar heritage, performance and driveability are superb – with its 294kW total system electric motor output good for 0-100kph in 4.8 seconds. And then there is the added cachet of having been awarded the World Car of The Year title for 2019, too.
2. BMW M850i xDrive – Reviving a classic GT
Loyal followers of the ‘Werke have waited more than two decades for the revival of BMW’s 8 Series nameplate. Although expectations can build to irrational levels when awaiting the renewal of a legendary vehicle such as the 8 Series, BMW has not left any of the fans disappointed with the new grand touring coupe.
Terrific presence and storming presence, credited to bold styling and a boosted 4.4-litre V8, cranking 390kW and surging the M850i from 0-100kph in 3.7 seconds. The new 8 Series is a fantastically symbolic reminder that between all the odd crossovers and pseudo-SUVs saturating BMW’s product portfolio, the brand retains an ability to build phenomenal large sportscars too.
3. Ford Ranger – Bringing all the gears to market
It might look like a facelift, but there are a host of clever engineering upgrades present with the 2019 Ranger. The most important of these is a 2-litre bi-turbo diesel engine and drivetrain combination. Two perfectly complementary turbochargers deliver 157kW of virtually lag-free power from the relatively small 2-litre four-cylinder engine which now headlines Ford’s local bakkie range.
That power output might be impressive in isolation, but what really makes for the convincing driveability, performance and economy is Ford’s new ten-speed automatic gearbox. Ranger’s 2-litre bi-turbo now offers more gears than any other bakkie and like your uncle in the heavy-duty road freight industry will tell you, there’s never a case of having too many gears – when you have to haul a heavy load. Which are what South Africans bakkies often do…
Image: Calvin Fisher
4. Toyota Corolla hatch – A great Toyota that isn’t all-wheel drive
The South African new vehicle sales hierarchy is predictable and unlikely to change: Toyota rules overall with its Hilux, and nobody challenges VW in passenger cars, with its hatchbacks. Despite dominating the local vehicle market, Toyota isn’t exceptionally strong in the large hatchback segment and this new Toyota Corolla hatch can change all of that.
It replaces the Auris and ushers in a daring new styling language, features generous equipment levels and although lacking a hot hatch derivative, the range is powered by efficient and responsive 1.2-litre turbocharged engines. For those who believe that Toyota is only a bakkie and SUV brand, Corolla hatch shows that there is a traditional urban passenger car revival of sorts underway at South Africa’s most popular car company.
The humble Renault Duster. Nothing spectacular about it, but that is exactly what South African owners of the rugged French compact SUV want. A simple yet distinguished design, with real gravel travel ability. Duster has challenged perceptions of French SUVs being frail and unsuitable to local condition.
With its gravel road appropriate suspension set-up and large volume tyres, it’s a charmingly confident dirt road tourer. In the all-wheel drive configuration, it can even carry you over sandy tracks to a destination and with 210mm of ground clearance, you aren’t vulnerable to that annoying middelmannetjie which stalls the progress of many 'soft' SUVs.
Best of all, is the phenomenal diesel engined economy. No trick aero. No hidden hybridizing battery packs. Just a very built to purpose 1.5-litre turbodiesel which boosts 80kW, 260Nm and runs a true 5l/100km. If you want an affordable and compact long-distance touring SUV, this is it.