Month: Feb 2021

The beauty of a legacy: The Gordon Murray T.50s Niki Lauda

On the 22nd of February 2021, the former legendary Formula 1 driver of yesteryear, Niki Lauda would have turned 72. The late three time World Champion and personality for the historically based movie Rush, has a legacy that lives on in the automotive world as Gordon Murray Automotive’s latest creation commemorates the decorated driver’s career.  

The Durban-born Gordon Murray has easily cemented himself as one of the modern all time greats in automotive design – which should instill a sense of pride for us South Africans. With extensive experience in Formula 1 and an impressive CV working on some truly incredible machines (yeah, the Mclaren F1 is one of them), he decided to channel his talents into a creation that bears his own name. If you were under a rock during August of last year, you would be none the wiser that the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 was released. In summary, the T.50 is a lightweight, 488kW V-12 powered, manual transmission supercars with a price tag north of £2.4m (before tax – not that it really matters if you can afford it). If you’re able to snag of the 100 built. 

On Niki Lauda’s birth date, Gordon Murray tributed the next iteration of his personal masterpiece after him by giving it the name: the T.50s Niki Lauda. To add context into the naming convention, Lauda raced the Murray-designed Formula 1 challengers in the late 1970’s, including the iconic Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT46B (appropriately named the fan car because of the massive fan mounted to its rear cowling). 

“The T.50s is named in honour of Niki to commemorate his famous win with the Brabham BT46B fan car in the 1978 Swedish GP,” said Murray. If you play spot-the-difference between the rear of the BT46B and the T.50, you will be hard pressed to find many – both iconically wearing Murray’s fan to aid ground effect. 

With only 25 of these to be created, they will have a chassis plate with a story equally as romantic as their name. Each car produced will be designated after one of the Murray-designed F1 Brabham or Mclaren winning challengers. In other words, the first car to be completed: Chassis 1, will bear a chassis plate with the engravings of Kyalami 1974, crediting Murray’s first victory in Formula 1 when F1 driver Carlos Reutemann emerged victorious behind the wheel of the BT44. 

If history isn’t what you came for then the numbers might be. To carry the weight of the Austrian born Ferrari and Mclaren-TAG champion requires a substantial justification, which the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50s Niki Lauda on paper should live up to. The power in the 3.9-litre, naturally-aspirated Cosworth V12 has been uprated to 540kW. Which is a lot – especially in a car that only weighs a measly 852kg. Power upgrades are thanks to higher compression ratio (15:1), new camshafts and revised cylinder heads with air being fed through a roof-mounted RAM induction box. This all helps the lightweight V12 reach a glorious 12 100rpm (just imagine the deafening sound with the factory straight piped exhaust). While the T.50 is manual, gearing in the Lauda is offered in a six-speed sequential paddle-shift with a choice in ratios getting the vehicle to approximately 330km/h or 275km/h with the short-ratio cogs.

If you thought the stock-standard T.50 came with a hefty price, take a seat because the T.50s Niki Lauda comes in with a whopping price of £3.1m. While both variants of the T.50 have been developed in tandem, the 25 Lauda’s won’t begin production until the last of the 100 road-going T.50’s roll off the production line in early 2023. There is hope that the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50s will compete in the World Endurance Series and not exclusively be reserved for opulent-climate controlled garages after Murray expressed interest in 2019.

The new Mercedes-Benz GLA: A Step-Up in All Areas!

The pumped up version of the A-Class is here and Alex Shahini gets to grips with the new GLA 200. 

A few decades ago the majority of passenger vehicles that filled the streets and transported families were sedans. Towards the end of the century, hatchbacks had asserted themselves as worthy adversaries and continued to increase in popularity in the ensuing years. Could it be that the compact SUV is under the same trajectory, one that will overthrow the beloved hatchback? 

Since the automotive world is constantly evolving, brands of all sizes conduct extensive market research to ensure they have the upper hand in new vehicle development. Things are no different with compact SUVs. They have become such a popular trend that consumers and brands have put their full focus into its development!

Now, this is where the new Mercedes-Benz GLA comes into the picture, it fills the niche for young buyers that desire compact SUV characteristics while retaining the no compromise comfort and style synonymous with the brand. Our test car, the GLA 200 AMG Line delivered on both accounts, with exterior styling imparting a more aggressive look than its predecessor and a sufficiently comfortable ride, even on 20” AMG Multi Spoke alloys. 

While the GLA is 100mm taller and slightly wider than its previous model, it is one of the most compact in its range, – in fact it is 15mm shorter than the previous generation and measuring in smaller than the chief rivals Audi Q3 and BMW X1. This makes it easily manoeuvrable and devoid of the cumbersome reputation SUVs have garnered. The dipped front bonnet made gauging tight surroundings quite difficult but credit can be given to the intuitive Mercedes Active Parking Assist with front and rear mounted cameras that provide extra confidence – albeit the sensor alarms were very enthusiastic near kerbs and parking garages. 

Consider this a more practical, spacious and consumer appeasing A class – it still feels very composed and planted around sharp corners and bends, although its inherently higher ground clearance does compromise it somewhat. Additionally, the elevated 140mm seating position from its sibling makes for comfortable driving and provides good vision of the surroundings. The A-pillars are not overtly bulky and do not hamper vision between the front windscreen and side windows – overall visibility from the driver’s seat is therefore good. 

Sitting slightly higher than most other vehicles on the road will generally instil an air of superiority to whoever is behind the wheel, but that is likely where its additional height advantage ends. Most non 4Matic front-wheel-drive GLA’s are unlikely to opt for the trail-less-travelled, which is a good thing since venturings into uneven terrain resulted in parking sensors frequently dispatching warning sounds and an uneasy ride (perhaps the risk of damaging those 20” rims only made this worse). 

While the local Mercedes-Benz GLA configurator only includes the two engine variants counting the 2.0 turbo diesel in the GLA 200d, our GLA 200 had the alternative, punchy 1.3-litre turbo four cylinder engine with 120kW. While the motor is well suited to lumbering around at low RPM and cruising on open roads, more spirited bursts of driving presented an annoying engine whine on deceleration which was exacerbated when the windows were open. Engine sound is as expected in a family orientated vehicle: numb, although there was a significant audible difference once the Sport mode was engaged. 

While the smoother, newer 8 speed gearbox of the local range is limited to the GLA 200 d, the only choice in our car was the 7 speed dual-clutch-transmission (DCT). While it felt less evolved and more hesitant in grabbing a gear than the 8 speed DCT in its diesel partner, it is still well suited for use as a comfortable runabout and highway cruiser. With engine rpm well below 2500 at 120km/h it provides good efficiency too, the combined figure for both urban and open road driving while under our care was about 7l/100km – disclaimer: spirited driving was top of the agenda and economy mode was only engaged once. 

As mentioned earlier, the interior is comfortable and spacious. The double screen layout provides a sensibly laid out display for the driver and central infotainment system while space-age inspired air vents take the focal point just below. The customisable displays and interior LED lighting allow for personalisation, while the central infotainment system has the ability to learn the drivers preference over time. The user interface is well integrated, but certain applications can be clunky to retrieve and process information like fuel economy and driving analytics. But the tactility of the central trackpad and drivers buttons can forgive some of the niggles. It was noted by other members of the team that material quality and overall fit and finish has taken a big step up from its hatchback sibling.

Space is abundant for both the driver and any passengers in the GLA, with sufficient leg and head room for normal sized adults in the rear. However, cargo space is where it falls short, even with 2 adjustable boot floor heights, the GLA has one of the least volumetric boot capacities in the segment at 435l. 

The GLA 200 is therefore a well balanced vehicle that is dressed up as an SUV. It is an option that will make valid sense to the consumer that is looking to satisfy as many driving and lifestyle needs as possible, while still retaining a three-pointed star on its grille. With a base price starting at R679 040, it is the most expensive of the lot too. Although it comes with a list of standard equipment, speccing options such as larger diameter rims and interior comforts could send the price closer to the R800 000 mark. 

Number crunching with Porsche’s new 911 GT3.

The hallowed proving ground in the automotive industry has always and will continue to be the Nurburgring Nordschleife, better known as the Green Hell for those who can’t correctly pronounce anything German. While the track is steeped in dozens of interesting numbers, competing automotive brands always want to achieve the lowest when it comes to doing a lap in their cars… and Porsche has achieved just that in their new model to sport the GT3 nameplate with a sub 7 minute figure. 

Porsche finally revealed the next generation 992 911 GT3 on February 16th, bringing the wait for the most exciting new 911 derivative to an end. It did so in incredible style as the same car also underwent its development around the Green Hell and managed to trounce the previous generations time. For context, Lars Kern – Porsche’s number 1 test driver completed the 20.8 km lap of the famous circuit in 6:59:927 minutes, beating the previous version by a massive 17 seconds. With its 9000rpm redline, it surely completed this lap to the aural satisfaction of anyone that was close enough to hear it. 

About the car: with the same flat-six four liter boxer engine and drivetrain of that in the seasoned endurance racer, the 911 GT3 R, there is no doubt the 375Kw engine should be able to consistently put down reliable consistent power wherever it goes. Other aspects of the GT racer exist in the form of a double wishbone front axle layout, functional diffusers and a swan neck rear wing. While it may not be as fast off the line as the Turbo S, the GT3 still manages a 0-100 time in 3.4 seconds and will continue up to 318km/h (or 320km/h in the manual box). Remember, this car is all about the downforce and handling. with a four-stage adjustable splitter at the front rear wing with an equal number of adjustments at the back. For the purists, it is also offered in a 6 speed manual gearbox and mechanical diff too, which translates to 17kg lighter than the models with the 7 speed PDK transmission and electronic diff.

South Africa can expect to receive the latest GT3 derivative in Q4 of 2021. Pricing will be confirmed closer to the time of its local release. This is a car that we can’t wait to drive! 

Watch Porsches official onboard footage of Lars Kern piloting an initial sub 7 minute lap in the GT3 around the Green Hell here

Nissan’s new Qashqai has big shoes to fill!

It is hard to believe that the most popular segment in South Africa’s automotive market (and many other countries for that matter) is only 14 years old. With abundant offerings in luxurious and affordable packages, the compact crossover SUV market is a booming industry that all brands want a piece of. However, it wouldn’t be in its existing form if it wasn’t for the pioneering first generation Nissan Qashqai, credited to have created this segment when its blueprint was originally drawn up in 2006. 

Now, Nissan has unveiled the third iteration of the original trendsetter to a global audience. The new generation is claimed to be an evolution of both of its predecessors, building on what Nissan’s customers claimed they loved most about the popular SUV. 

Its exterior is bold with a visually striking front grille tying in the ‘boomerang headlamps’ which wrap slightly around the top corners of the bonnet to create an illusion of added width. Its prominent shoulder lines conjoin the front to the rear, while the rear retains a familiar Qashqai design language. It is also now available in 20” alloy wheels while the bodywork can be finished-off in a selection of two tone colour combinations. 

The interior appears to be a massive improvement over its predecessor, through the simplification of tools and a particular emphasis placed on the drivers ease of use. The clean, minimal interior has focused on presenting a driver with the least distraction during driving as possible. Filled with other tech, the Qashqai features a modifiable 10.8” adaptive display (HUD), 12” configurable drivers screen and 9” infotainment display in the center console. In car wifi, multi-USB charging and wireless charging are other available options.

One of the key features Nissan has incorporated into the new Qashqai is spaciousness, and while the boot will have a volumetric capacity of 504 liters, they claim that there is more head, knee and shoulder space available for occupants. This may be due to the fact that all overall dimensions of this car have increased, with an extended wheelbase of 20mm and a 25mm height raise. 

Nissans newly developed e-Power powertrain system will feature in the Qashqai – which incorporates constant electric motor drive for instantaneous acceleration while being connected to an evolved 1.3 liter turbo-petrol motor offering 103kW and 240Nm mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. There is also another option with increased power ratings at 116kW and 260Nm which is coupled to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT gearbox.

While the order books for the new Qashqai have opened across Europe, South Africa can anticipate the arrival of the trailblazing SUV towards the final quarter of 2021, with the local specification and pricing to follow in due course. With 3 million car sales since its inception in Europe alone, it is likely the new Qashqai will follow suit!

The Swedes Are On A Roll!

Volvo reports best January in its history

Volvo is often considered the alternative premium marque to the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. But with the latest sales results, that could be turning around!

Starting 2021 on a strong note, Volvo Cars reported the best January in its history. Global sales rose by 30.2 percent to 59 588 cars, boosted by a strong year-on-year performance in China where the company more than recovered losses from earlier COVID-19 shutdowns.

Demand for Volvo Cars’ SUV line-up remained strong and represented 71 percent of overall volumes, while the popularity of its Recharge line-up of chargeable cars continued to grow. The volume of Recharge models more than doubled in January year-on-year, now accounting for 23 percent of all Volvo cars sold globally.

In China, sales grew by 91.3 percent to 19 160 cars in January, as Volvo Cars’ biggest market more than recovered from a pandemic-related sales drop in the first month of last year. The sales increase in China was helped by strong overall market demand, but also boosted by a sales ramp-up of the company’s XC40 compact SUV and the S60 sedan.

US sales reached 8 151 cars in January, an increase of 32.4 percent compared with the same period last year. The company’s award-winning SUV line-up, led by the XC90, drove the strong sales increase.

European sales for the month increased by 9.0 percent to 24 857 cars sold, helped by strong performances in key markets such as Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands. Recharge cars amounted to 41 percent of total European sales.

South African sales were strong too. According to Greg Maruszewski, managing director of Volvo Car South Africa, the XC40 was the star of the show. “Sales rose by 37 percent in January 2021 (versus

January 2020). This is encouraging given the fact that the XC40 had a good 2020; it had an 8.40% share of its segment in 2019; that grew to 14.70% in 2020,” he reveals.

In January 2021, globally the XC40 was the company’s top selling model with 17 770 cars (2020: 10 802 units), followed by the XC60 with 17 053 cars (2020: 13 353 units) and the XC90 with sales of 7 564 cars (2020: 6 902 units).

Maruszewski says that 2020 was a landmark year for Volvo. “On a global front, we introduced our first all-electric car, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, which will come to South Africa soon. Our plug-in hybrid line-up range also enjoyed growth. We’re facing 2021 with optimism and we look forward to continuing to meet our customers’ ever-evolving needs,” he concludes.

Buying or servicing a car? Take note as things are about to change!

George Minnie, CEO of AutoTrader, breaks down the latest guidelines set out by the Competition Commission.

Buying and maintaining a car can prove to be a daunting task for those without technical knowledge and experience. Fortunately, there are changes that are coming to the automotive industry that should in theory, provide consumers with more freedom for their own vehicle. These changes will affect every single South African seeking to buy, repair or service a car. The changes – effective 1 July 2021 – are coming about thanks to guidelines published by the Competition Commission.

According to George Mienie, CEO of AutoTrader, the guidelines are about to introduce substantial changes to the car buying and servicing processes. “These changes will mean that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), dealerships and workshops will have to alter the way that they do business in the future,” he points out.
So, what are these changes and how will they impact the OEMs, dealerships, workshops and most importantly, the consumer? Here are some of the most important guidelines – and their implications.

1.Freedom of choice

Consumers who do not have insurance cover may repair their motor vehicles at a service provider of their choice at any point during the motor vehicle’s lifespan. They don’t have to go to a so-called “approved motor-body repairer” anymore.


2. More Options

For various reasons, consumers’ options when it comes to motor-body repairers have been limited. This won’t be the case in the future. The OEMs need to promote and/or support the entry of new motor-body repairers, with a preference for firms owned by Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDIs). The OEMs also cannot enter into exclusive arrangements, either with one or more approved motor-body repairers, for effecting repairs on an OEM’s motor vehicles within a designated geographic area. Practically, this should mean that there are more motor-body repairers – and the consumer has more options. In theory, cars should also be repaired faster. 

3. More flexibility with maintenance and service plans

Dealers won’t be able to include a maintenance or service plan in the purchase price of a vehicle; the plan has to be “unbundled”. Practically, this means that the consumer can say yea or nay to buying a plan from a dealership. He or she is free to shop for one elsewhere. In addition, if a vehicle with a maintenance or service plan is written off by an insurance company, that plan must pass on to the replacement vehicle.


4.Dealerships will become less grandiose

The Commission says that dealership start-up costs – at an average of R60 million – can be exorbitant and a high barrier to entry. In future, the OEMs will need to adopt measures to lower financial barriers to entry and promote the participation of HDIs in the dealership market. In addition, OEMs should not impose so-called “onerous obligations” on prospective dealers. So, expect a lot more smaller, far less grandiose dealerships to pop up.

The Mazda 3 as a compact SUV – the new CX30

The CX-30 is the latest Mazda addition to receive the minimal, traditional Japanese KODO design philosophy. First revealed at the Geneva International Motor Show in 2019 as the updated compact SUV fitting between the CX-3 and CX-5, this yuppie-appealing yet elegant SUV is now ready for the South African Market. 

So, what does the Mazda 3’s slightly bigger sibling offer you? Aesthetically, you are awarded with the same sophisticated and bold proportions of an SUV combined into the aesthetic silhouette of a coupe. 

The pronounced triangular grille seamlessly intersects with the headlights creating a cohesive yet aggressive front end while the rear includes thick black cladding below the tailgate that runs the length of the car, alluding more to its SUV capabilities. Consumers of this popular segment have their choice of nine exterior colours, Active and Dynamic models include 16” grey metallic alloy wheels, while the range topping Individual includes 18” wheels finished in silver. LED Auto levelling headlights are standard across the range as well as Driver, Passenger, Knee (Driver), Side & Curtain airbags which assist in its impressive five-star Euro NCAP rating. 

The human centered design philosophy dictated the layout of the cabin, placing particular emphasis around the driver. The 8.8” display screen placed above the dashboard is slightly angled towards the driver as are all other essential dials, HUD and other instruments. This minimizes driving distraction through emphasised operational ease. 

Entertainment comes in the form of MAZDA CONNECT which includes the use of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and Voice command. The Active and Dynamic models offer 8 speaker sound systems while the Individual model includes a 12 speaker BOSE audio layout. Grey cloth seats are standard with black and navy blue accents on the dashboard while the Individual model comes with perforated leather seats seamlessly integrated into the dark themed and tactile interior. 

The CX-30 range is exclusively powered by the latest 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G engine paired to a 6 speed automatic transmission powering the front wheels. Power is sufficient at 121kW at 6,000rpm while a maximum torque figure of 213Nm is found at 4,000rpm. All of this is covered with Mazda Care’s standard 3-year unlimited kilometre service plan, a 3-year factory warranty, 3-year roadside assistance and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty. The 2020 World Car of the year finalist goes on sale at R469,000 with the entry level Active while the range topping individual will set you back R540,000. 

“Post-Opulent” discussions with the Rolls Royce Ghost design team.

In a world where automakers continually prioritise the constant sales of their vehicles, a phrase like planned obsolescence becomes an increasingly apparent theme, it keeps companies ticking over and profit margins in the green. It is therefore refreshing to be able to have a digital round table conversation with those responsible for the new Rolls Royce Ghost where longevity is the dominating ideology. Granted, the Derby based automotive deluxe manufacturer will never be in reach of the vast majority of automotive consumers, 2020 shook the world to its core and even the ultra-moneyed clientele have been looking for a slightly more understated ride. 

The team, presented by Rami Joudi (regional PR manager in the Middle East and Africa) included Felix Kilbertus (head of exterior design), Henry Cloke (lead exterior designer) and Jon Simms (vehicle project leader). The objective was to provide valuable insight into their design decisions and begin to explain the brands paradigm shift for the new Ghost portfolio. Much of the world still finds itself affected in some way or another by Covid-19, which consequently has the ultra-wealthy inadvertently appreciating their luxuries in a less ostentatious and imposing manner. Rolls Royce have dubbed this new luxury age as Post-Opulence. Henry Cloke, the identifier of this new ideology focused his design process of Ghost wholly on minimalism and purity, devoid of grandeur and fuss. 

This new approach to creating the updated model has not resulted in a cheaper aesthetic typical with mass produced econoboxes that fill public roads, in fact the quality and benchmark synonymous with the storied brand still remain abundant with their surface finishes and overall aesthetic. To an untrained eye the all new Ghost may seem identical to its precedent which was originally launched in 2009, which brings me to the age old Rolls Royce ideology of longevity. These are creations that intend to remain eternally fashionable, which is exacting in a world obsessed with consumption and recurring fads. Proportionally, both appear greatly similar however the updated model focuses on removing all unnecessary design and mitigating the risk of any operational flaws. The lengthy wait for the new model can be credited to a mantra mentioned in the conversation where striving to be the best is more imperative than striving to be the first. 

Felix Kilbertus alluded to the impressive number of Rolls Royce models still registered for road use, at over 70% they remain one of the stalwarts of longevity – vehemently rejecting the trend of planned obsolescence. These are cars that are built to last a lifetime and Ghost is no different, in fact its predecessor set the benchmark so high (as the best selling model in their history), that the entire car was re-designed from the ground up to incorporate more modern solutions and technology. Ghost no longer shares any of its underpinnings with anything offered by the BMW group. To achieve their onerous pursuit of perfect simplicity, the platform employs the same Architecture of Luxury that was embodied in the Cullinan and Phantom offerings. This hand-welded aluminium space frame provides it with the same level of luxury and comfort expected from any modern car adorned with the Spirit of Ecstacy.

The Post Opulent era lacking frivolous and unnecessary features has simplified the model into something that is tantalizingly elegant and beautiful while keeping the same exceptional quality and standards of Rolls Royce. Ghost continues the lineage of manufacturing cars that will last a lifetime.

Is the brand new Suzuki Brezza the best you can get?

Suzuki have just launched their new Vitara Brezza into the South African market, it slots in comfortably between its peppy Ignis and 180mm longer Vitara peers. With a storied history, the brand can confidently claim the title of compact SUV pioneers with the introduction of the original Vitara over 3 decades ago. Although very much has changed with their segment contender over that time, Suzuki guarantees that their current compact SUV offering is an equally fun and affordable option for those with an insatiable taste for adventure while appearing to be great value for money. 

Suzuki is highly confident their new arrival offers the same abilities as its competition for a much more affordable price to the consumer. Both variants of the Vitara Brezza, the GL and GLX come standard with 16” wheels, while the GLX sports more stylish looking alloys, LED headlamps with DRL and LED fog lamps. It’s lightweight volume and dimensions make it easy to park and convenient to manoeuvre for urban applications while the Indian produced model is still somewhat capable in rugged terrains and gravel roads with its comfortable ground clearance and nimble stature. 

Consumers have their choice of six-single tone colours and three-two tone colours on the exterior while the interior includes standard equipment across the range such as climate control, a rear parking sensors and a touch screen 7” infotainment display which has connectivity to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. 

A 1,5-litre naturally aspirated 4 cylinder from the brand is the only option available to the car, delivering a maximum of 77kW and 138Nm exclusively to the front wheels of both the GL and GLX variants. That is right, there are no options that power all four corners of the car, which make this a front wheel drive Suzuki SUV bearing the Vitara nomenclature. This has been done to appeal to their ever changing demographic of compact SUV consumers, while still keeping it an affordable choice. Both variants are available in either a 5-speed manual or a torque converting 4 speed automatic, which Suzuki claim is the smoothest match for the seasoned K15B motor. Although the power and torque output seems meagre, the gearing combined with a kerb weight of 1 110kg ultimately affords it with thrifty fuel economy at 6.2l/100km. 

If you are now wondering what Suzuki’s best selling global offering will cost, you may be pleasantly surprised to know that this is one of the more affordable options in the segment. Starting with the 5 speed manual GL at a meagre R244 900 and ending at the 4 speed automatic GLX AT further up the spectrum at R309 900, this is certainly good value for money considering what equipment is included. A 4 year/60 000km service plan and 5 year/200000km warranty come as standard too. 

If this price is still out of your budget for a compact SUV, Suzuki is running a competition where entrants stand a chance to win a Vitara Brezza for an entire year, more details for entry are available at Suzukiauto.co.za. 

#itjustgetsbrezza

The new BMW M5 CS – Too track focused?

We’ve had this conversation before. Are modern sports-cars focusing too much on track use as opposed to road use? Late last year we attended the launch of the new BMW M2 CS, a car that is marketed as a track ready BMW. The launch took place in Kyalami Racetrack, a fitting location for such a car. We all walked away giddy about the cars new suspension setup, the looks and how it sounds. It was only after scrolling through my social media feeds, did I see another journalist make an important statement that made so much sense. He tweeted “Gotta love the audacity of BMW launching their most track focused car on a racetrack, the one place owners can’t drive it without voiding their warranty.” This sentiment is very true, especially in South Africa where BMW’s carry a Motorplan (Warranty) that can easily be voided if customers fiddle or use their vehicle on track. However, that’s not the point of this article. Let’s bring it back to the M5 CS that we’re all drooling for. This has got to be the hottest M5 to date and it’s also BMW most powerful production vehicle ever.

From the gorgeous Frozen Deep Green paintwork, to the Gold Bronze wheels and kidney grille, the car looks extremely mean and in facelift guise, looks even better. The figures are outstanding, 437kW/750N.m and a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 3.0 seconds. In a 1 825kg family saloon? My word. The addition of M Carbon ceramic brakes also means that you’ll be able to stop this behemoth with much ease. But here’s the thing, this car is world renowned for its ability to be a family orientated sedan on the one hand and then a sports car murdering missile on the other. Unfortunately the M5 CS however has regressed when it comes to the former. I was very disappointed to find out that the CS only comes in a four seater configuration. Why?! Yes BMW have gone through stringent measures to reduce the weight of this vehicle, resulting in a 70kg reduction. The loss of weight is due to the use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic in various places and of course, the inclusion of a 2-seater lightweight-construction rear bench unit. I don’t know what a standard 3-seater bench weighs, but I’m sure the potential buyers of the vehicle wouldn’t care if the M5 CS was only 50kg’s lighter but provided the same practical attributes of a standard M5.

By making the M5 CS a four seater, BMW have removed one of the most charming characteristics of the car, it’s true family appeal. The reality is that most M5 CS owners won’t spend majority of their time on track, the same way most M5 drivers don’t. In fact, only a handful of sports car customers use their vehicles on track. These vehicles are meant to be dual purpose, especially a vehicle like an M5. As cars keep progressing in their abilities and more special editions are being made, often times manufacturers love focusing on the track prowess of their cars. Meanwhile they don’t tell you how squeaky carbon ceramic brakes are when cold or the fact that using your vehicle on track may result in a Motorplan suspension. On the other hand, many people have spawned only two children, so perhaps it’s not the end of the world and the CS is a limited production car, but still – an M5 is not supposed to be a 4- seater. Very few M5 CS’s are going to make their way to South Africa and I could bet my house that they’re all sold. So perhaps this article is a waste of time, but it just baffles me that BMW M would make such an astonishing vehicle, but then take away a simple yet critical element of the M5, it’s middle seat. All this is done in the name of weight saving, in a vehicle that essentially isn’t allowed on track. Am I missing something?