Where there is a hill to be climbed, someone at some point will endeavor to climb it. Humans do this, it must be in our nature to choose a thing that’s bigger than us and then scale it, only to poke a flag in it once the summit has been reached. One step further than this, though, is racing another human to the top, conquering not only the hill, but your competitor too!
Now in its eighth edition and the fourth to be sponsored by Jaguar South Africa, the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb 2017 promises to be the ultimate showcase of people racing up a hill, as we like to do. Considered by many to be the most prestigious motorsport event in South Africa, the Hillclimb has grown exponentially from its humble beginnings back in 2009 to the local equivalent of the iconic Goodwood Festival of Speed, having had over 14 000 motorsport fans grace the hill in 2016.
The cream of the motorsport crop are to be found at the Hillclimb with legends such as Ian Scheckter, Mike Briggs, Deon Joubert, Leeroy Poulter and Sarel van der Merwe having taken part over the past 7 events. Of course, the cars are important too – nobody would fly all the way to Knysna to bear witness to a running race between Mike Briggs and Franco Scribante…
Porsche 917 and 956, Ariel Atom, various Lotus’, countless Ferraris and the usual brigade of supercars such as the McLaren 650S, Lamborghini Aventador and Jaguar F-Type have all taken part, as well as a handful of Formula 1 cars from a bygone era.
The 2017 programme sees a slight tweak with the King of the Hill event being split into three categories – SuperCar Shootout, Sports Cars and Single Seaters and Modified Saloons. This ensures that competition is fair and that each competitor stands a chance against the other hillclimbers. The fastest cars in each category will then go head to head in a shootout to crown the King of the Hill.
We look forward to seeing all the action from the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb – if the hype and success of the previous years is anything to go by, this year’s event promises to be quite the spectacle!
The Hottest BMW M4 Has Arrived in South Africa: The BMW M4 CS
Since the beginning of the compact sports coupe, the BMW M3, now called the M4 in its Coupe variant, has been the yardstick and the go to car for all that is good in that segment. Over the years, it’s faced competition from Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar and now recently, Alfa Romeo but it’s still widely regarded as the king in this segment.
The gap, though, between the BMW and its peers has shrunk in recent times and upon seeing this, the Bavarians have launched a special, limited and rare as an honest politician version, and it’s headed to South Africa. This new or updated M version, dons the name M4 CS. Not CSL, CS. This car is meant to slot in between the M4 Competition Package and the GTS, of which there are only 25 units in South Africa. So for all intents and purposes, this will be the hottest M4 that you can now buy in South Africa. That’s discounting the rare GTS DTM Champion Edition which is due in SA imminently. Can BMW make up their minds already?!
Power comes from the same 3.0 litre twin-turbo straight six, delivering no less that 339 kW and 600 N.m of torque. This translates to a 3.9 seconds 0-100 km/h and a top speed of 280km/h. Visual changes will be easy to spot for the BMW die-hard fans. From the revised rear spoiler and rear diffuser at the rear to the classic mix of leather and alcantara in the cabin with M colours adorning to seat belts, seats and steering wheel, you’ll know that this M4 is special. The biggest change is found at the rear where the OLED lights from the GTS form part of the CS standard equipment. The CS gets special light weight alloys that are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Cup 2 semi slick tyres which no doubt, will help set a blazing time around “the green hell” of 07:38”, a full 14 seconds faster than a standard M4, and we all know that in the world of track driving, 14 seconds is a lifetime.
So in our opinion, BMW has made sure that it has enough variations of the M4 to ward of attacks from different manufacturers for the Sports Coupe title which it so deservedly owns, and from what we are reading, it seems as though they have bought themselves more time. Question is though, how long can they keep this up?
In theory, fast SUV’s make no sense. A high-riding AWD vehicle capable of 0-100 km/h in 4.0 seconds and top speeds well north of 250 km/h yet incapable of traversing more than a pavement makes as much sense as a mid-engined supercar that can only go off-road with the performance figures of a Land Rover Defender, but alas, there seems to be a market for these. Back when the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT was first launched in 2006, it was the fastest SUV money could buy, right up until every manufacturer under the sun put over 300 kW in one SUV or another.
11 years later, Jeep have done it again by plonking the Dodge Challenger Hellcat’s 6.2-litre supercharged V8 into the Grand Cherokee. The numbers are truly remarkable – 523 kW and 881 N.m. To put that into context, a BMW X5 M produces 423 kW/750 N.m and anyone who has ever experienced the sheer shock of launching the 2.5 tonne behemoth to 100 km/h and beyond can attest to the g-forces experienced. So how would you feel, then, if I told you that the Trackhawk is faster?
A snazzy Torque Reserve pre-positioning the supercharger bypass valve to generate boost and minimize manifold filling time while cutting fuelling to individual cylinders and managing spark timing in order to provide improved engine torque response and quicker vehicle acceleration in Launch Control. In short, this generates a reserve of torque that can be instantaneously delivered upon acceleration from a standing stop.
At 14 600 rpm, 2,380cc of air pass through the supercharger per revolution which comes with integral charge-air coolers. What this means is that the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will out accelerate an Audi RS6 and keep going all the way to 290 km/h. 3.5 seconds to 100 km/h is quite a cool number to flaunt around the lawyer’s office or whatever professional workspace you might commute to in your ‘murican monster.
As with most performance cars these days, endless configuration is possible and a few design queues such as quad-exit exhaust pipes and carbon fibre remind you of the grunt under your bonnet. Aside from this, the Trackhawk isn’t as lary as one might expect. All that torque is fed through a modified TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission, as well as a strengthened transfer case. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk goes on sale in the USA in the 4th quarter of 2017 but there is no word yet on local availability or pricing.
South African Launch of the Aston Martin Vanquish S
For as long as humans have lusted over motorcars, the question of whether or not a car can be considered to be art has existed. Silly as it may seem, many an art aficionado has gazed upon such beauties as the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB and E60 BMW M5 (a personal favourite) and have thought, “Psh, this is not art.” What these dreary individuals seem to completely miss, however, is that these vehicles are but three examples of a pool of cars we consider to be greater than the sum of their parts.
Similarly, there has been ambiguity as to whether photography can be considered to be art ever since it became commonplace in the 19th century and arguments such as “photography is too literal to compete with works of art” and that it is “unable to elevate the imagination” do not help the cause. Thankfully, then, a charming fellow by the name of Clint Strydom has gone off, armed with his camera and an Aston Martin One-77, and much like a naughty child skipping Physical Education on a Friday afternoon, stuck it to the man. Commissioned by Aston Martin Lagonda to capture the essence of their iconic brand, what Clint has come up with is truly remarkable.
Apt then, that Dr Ulrich Bez, Chairman of Aston Martin once said that “The true value of a work of art lies in the unique relationship between the art itself, its creator and ultimately its owner.” He then goes on to relate this to the cars which Aston Martin produce, noting that each vehicle reflects the personality of its owner in its unique specification – unless it’s second-hand, of course.
The local unveiling of the Aston Martin Vanquish S took place in Melrose Arch on the High Street, between the Daytona Melrose Arch Dealership and The Melrose Gallery where an exquisite exhibition of both Clint’s Inspired by Aston Martin series and a series of Esther Mahlangu’s works were on display. The significance of this was noted by few as Esther Mahlangu is one of the very few artists in the world to have been commissioned by BMW on two separate occasions to create a BMW Art Car, another amalgamation of the automotive and artistic spheres. The presence of these two visionaries was a fitting setting, then, for the local debut of Gaydon’s latest masterpiece and the halo vehicle of the Aston Martin brand.
The differences between the Aston Martin Vanquish and Vanquish S
Very similar to the “standard” Vanquish, only the eagle-eyed will notice the subtle differences between the Vanquish and its S counterpart. Most notable is the new aerodynamic package with its extended front splitter and rear diffuser, both fashioned from exposed carbon fibre and designed to reduce front lift with a minimal increase in parasitic drag. New quad exhaust pipes also emphasise the Vanquish S’ performance oriented character, as do the subtle changes to Aston Martin’s signature grille and side strakes.
Carbon fibre bonnet louvres, forged rims and various graphics packs can also be fitted to the Vanquish S.
Inside the vehicle, options with long and confusing names can be had such as “Bridge of Weir Caithness” leather and a Chopped Carbon Fibre finish which again suggests the overtly sporty nature of this flagship model.
Most notable changes are found beneath the skin in the form of all carbon fibre bodywork and recalibration of the 8-speed Touchtronic III transmission which now delivers faster gearshifts and is more refined at low speeds. Alterations to the inlet manifolds ups the power of the sonorous AM29 6.0-litre naturally-aspirated V12 from 424 kW/630 N.m (2014 onwards) to 444 kW/630 N.m. The larger volume inlet manifolds allow for a greater volume of air to flow into the engine at high rpm’s, creating stronger pull all the way to the redline as well as notably improved throttle response. 0-100 km/h is dealt with in 3.5 seconds and top speed is 323 km/h if you’re the sort of person who is concerned with those figures.
All of these aspects combine to create a GT which offers a distinctly different experience to the DB11, yet one that is still notably a product of the Aston Martin marque. The question is, do you feel that the Vanquish S is a work of art? If looking at it as a piece of art, some would say that at its starting price of R4 950 000, it’s a steal, but those who see it as just a motorcar might argue that that is quite a lot of money…
I leave you with this sentiment, then – you can gaze in awe at the lines, craftsmanship and attention to detail found in an Aston Martin, but you can’t drag race a painting.
In my mind, Audi’s RS5 has always had a unique appeal in the very sporty small coupe segment. While BMW’s M3 has always been the nimble and dynamic youth in a hoody and Mercedes-AMG’s C63 the grandpa in All Stars, the last generation RS5 suffered from an identity crisis and was neither supremely comfortable nor tekkie squeaking fast, but it was one of those cars that you wanted and preferably without a roof.
The same could be said for each of the above’s fan bases with the Audi, again, sucking hind-teet while the C63 and M3’s were scooped up by young millionaires and old folk recapturing their youth. Every time I see an RS5, I struggle to place its driver into a category and be mean, but is this such a bad thing?
Stereotyping aside, the RS5 was great when it launched 7 years ago, a time when the E92 M3 reigned supreme and grandpa sported a 6.2-litre masterpiece in his AMG All Stars. The RS5’s 4.2-litre V8 was a meaty and burbly unit and as a whole, the RS5 was the weapon of choice for those who preferred to be discreet, yet dashing. Unfortunately, on the performance front at least, the RS5 has been left behind in recent years by the turbocharged F82 and W205.
Fast forward to 2017 and the new RS5 has again befallen the recently tabooed fate of all engines – downsizing. Harkening back to the days of the B5 RS4, the all-new RS5 sports a 2.9 litre doubly force-fed V6, putting out an M3/4 Competition Package matching 331 kW and 170 N.m more than the old naturally aspirated V8 at 600 N.m. This should be good for a 3.9 second 0-100 km/h sprint, accompanied by one of motoring’s all-time favourite soundtracks, an Audi V6. The motor is in fact the same unit found in the new Porsche Panamera, and will undoubtedly blend performance and economy in a typically Germanic and clinical fashion.
While the engine is big news, the indistinguishable crowd of people who buy RS5’s will perhaps swoon over its blacked-out LED headlights, beefy bumpers and oval holes that house the exhausts. It’s actually 17 mm wider than the model it replaces yet 60 kg lighter which is about as much as a fat child. Accompanying the reduction in weight is a multi-link suspension set-up at the rear which replaces the trapezoidal-link from the previous model.
Consumption is also vastly better than before with a claimed combined average of 7.2 l/100km.
There’s no word yet on local availability or pricing but a good guess would be the first quarter of 2018 for a million and a bit.
The trend of downsizing may be slowing down but it’s still something most manufacturers are doing when developing a new car. Not Ferrari though, specifically when it comes to their V12 engine. The Ferrari V12 is something special to most petrolheads and it’s great to see that it won’t be dying anytime soon. Think of cars like 575 M and the F12 TDF, would you want that sound to be no longer? Of course not. Well then you’ll be happy to know that the 812 Superfast is going to be revealed soon at the Geneva Motor Show. This car uses a 588kW (800hp) and 718Nm 6.5 litre V12 to power the Berlinetta. It is as Ferrari puts it “the new benchmark in the mid-front-engined sports car segment”.
So it’s fast as you can expect, with the name Superfast you can’t really expect anything less. The Superfast uses Variable Geometry Intakes which if it uses a similar setup to the LaFerrari, means it uses a single tube per cylinder bank that can change its length depending on engine speed. This gives the car the choice to use a longer intake manifold under load and a shorter intake at higher rpm. You still with us? If not it means the car gets the right amount of air at the right time, making it superfast all the time. See what we did there?
Other cool features in the 812 Superfast are Side Slip Control, which allows you to drift without crashing. The Virtual Short Wheelbase system also makes the car more nimble and the Superfast makes use of Electric Power Steering. Oh, and it also uses a double clutch gearbox to make sure that all those horses don’t get wasted. So much so it does a 0-100km/h in a time of 2.9 seconds, not bad for a car that’s not extremely lightweight.
The most controversial aspect of this Superfast is the looks – some have mentioned how it has a bit of Corvette in it. We get where they’re coming from because if you squint your eyes, you can see it. Knowing the folks at Fezza, they’ll probably say the Corvette was inspired by the 812. Anyways, all that matters is that the Ferrari V12 still lives and if Ferrari can have it their way, it will probably live on for as long as possible. Yay for more cylinders!
Give Horacio Pagani a wand and a robe and one could be forgiven for thinking that he is in fact a magical professor – what with his curvaceous silver locks and chiselled visage, he really does fit the role of Snape’s vertically challenged brother. However, with the unveiling of the Huayra Roadster, I am starting to question his muggleness more than ever…
Nothing could have quite prepared anybody for the sheer pornography that is the Huayra Roadster – from its squared off face to swishy bits above the taillights, it is a completely different box of frogs to the Huayra Coupe and that wasn’t exactly a Gremlin either.
Horacio himself recently described this project as having been the most difficult they have ever worked on, a statement which makes complete sense once you delve into what went into this work of art.
The project began in 2010 with the simple idea of creating a Huayra without a roof. Three years later, all the design work was scrapped and they began from scratch with the goal of creating a vehicle lighter than the Coupe still in mind.
Power comes from the M158 Twin Turbo V12 from Mercedes-AMG, built especially for Pagani and producing an immense 592 kW and over 1000 N.m from its 6.0-litres. All that torque is available, too, from just 2 400 RPM. This allows the Roadster to sprint to 100 km/h in under 3 seconds, obviously a relevant figure…
This power is fed through a new single-clutch automated manual transmission developed for the Huayra BC and while not as immediate as its double-clutch counterparts, its lightweight construction offsets the slower shift time allowing a better power-to-weight ratio than if a double-clutch unit were to be used. The gearbox is also mounted transversely which reduces the polar inertia of the vehicle, just in case you were wondering.
Most impressive, however, is that the Roadster is some 25% lighter than the Coupe, yet 50% more rigid. A feat like this is almost unheard of in the automotive sphere, especially when one considers just how wiggly a car becomes when its roof is removed.
Other highlights include special Pirelli tyres with Horacio’s initials on them (how ostentatious) new carbon-ceramic brakes, a new ESP system and two roofs – one a glass and carbon-fibre jobby which only fits into one orifice in the vehicle – the one above your head – and the other a tent which can quickly be erected in the event of sudden moisture.
Only 100 will be made and they have all been sold for a ridiculous outlay of $2.8 million Dollars. I now urge you to zoom into these images and ogle at the attention to detail that has gone into this vehicle.
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KIA isn’t the first brand which comes to mind when discussing performance cars and that’s probably due to the fact that their most sporty offering up until mid-January was the Koup. It’s lovely, but you won’t be taking on any 440i’s or Golf GTI’s anytime soon – it’s just not that sort of car. Desirability, I feel is something that KIA’s of old lacked, but as I mentioned in my review of the new Sportage, KIA are on a roll at the moment and very soon, KIA’s will become poster cars. Mark my words.
So it came as no surprise to me, then, when KIA unveiled the Stinger – an all-new model for them, set to take the fight straight to the BMW 4 Series GranCoupe, Audi A5 Sportback and the Mercedes-Benz CLS at a stretch. It’s big, bigger than all of those. It’s even longer than a Lexus GS and that’s…long.
The design team have certainly done their bit here – the Stinger is swoopy and swishy in all the right places and has a rakish stance, much like I’d expect its target market to have. These young, wealthy, vehicle-conscious and stylish beings will be pleased with the interior, too, which looks a lot like a Mercedes-Benz CLA…but who cares really? The whole thing oozes desirability but the deal-breaker with any snazzy Coupe sedan is the way it performs. You can’t have a car that looks like Heidi Klum but runs like Oprah.
Albert Biermann, ex-Vice President of Engineering at BMW M, has settled in nicely with the Koreans and his work has apparently resulted in a car that is properly good to drive. MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension are designed to let the driver know what’s happening and for the first time in a KIA, ride-damping and vehicle handling can be changed by the driver thanks to an electronically adjustable suspension – Dynamic Stability Damping Control. It has five modes which is a lot of modes, but judging by the engine line-up, we suspect the best on will be the fast one.
Still under development, the powertrains have to live up to the rest of the grand-tourer, too, so it comes as no surprise that they are both rather pokey. 190kW and 350Nm from a 2.0-litre turbo four and 272kW and 510Nm from KIA’s 3.3 Litre twin-turbo V6 Lambda II motor give you stonking performance – 5.1 seconds to 100km/h and a top speed of 270km/h. Vented Brembos are standard on the 3.3-litre model featuring 4-piston callipers up front and dual pistons at the rear.
The gearbox is fancy too and is an 8-speeder which makes use of aviation technology in the form of a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber which helps reduce torsional vibrations through the drivetrain. The Stinger can be had as either an AWD or rear-wheel drive, the rear-wheel drive model coming with a proper mechanical limited-slip differential.
A vast array of safety features are available too, as expected in this segment, and a heads-up display, wireless phone charger, adaptive cruise control and optional Harman/Kardon sound system will keep the tech-weirdos happy.
There’s no word yet on local availability but should there be enough interest, don’t expect to see it on our roads before 2018.
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A standard BMW which accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds is something unheard of from the stable, until now. The new BMW M4 GTS is breaking new ground; it’s lighter, better and much faster. This special edition M car is not only the fastest BMW ever made, but it is also the most track based production car BMW has made. The brand makes no apologies that this car is strictly for the enthusiast. Let’s break it down to see what makes a BMW M4 GTS tick.
The car uses the same engine in the M4 coupe and M3 sedan, but this time, boost is increased resulting in an output of 368 kW and 600 Nm, a massive leap from the standard car. For the engine to handle all that power, BMW has not simply turned up the boost and left it at that. The car uses a water based air cooling system which sprays water into the intake manifold plenum chamber (area where air is about to enter the intake), the water then evaporates and significantly cools the air entering into the combustion chamber. In the world of engines, cold air is always better, and in the case of the BMW M4 GTS, this system allows the car to handle more boost from the turbochargers. This exact engine configuration system was first used in the MotoGP BMW M4.
Looking back from the days of the e30 M3 Sport Evolution, to the e36 M3 Lightweight, to the e46 M3 CSL and then the e92 M3 GTS, BMW have stuck to a particular formula when developing such cars. A strict diet and some force feeding is what is takes to create special edition M car; nothing has changed for the M4 GTS. The only difference being that now there are better technologies available to extract more power and save more weight.
The interior of the BMW M4 GTS has been stripped out, not in a bad way, though. The front seats are made from Carbon Fibre and weigh 50% less than the standard seats. The door handles on the inside have been replaced by pull-loops too. Orange striping, anthracite bits and Alcantara play a significant role in the design element of the cabin, which creates a race ready look inside the car.
The exterior changes add to the weight saving as well, with the bonnet, roof and front splitter being made out of Carbon Fibre reinforced plastic. The result is a car with a kerb weight of just over 1500 kg, which is very light considering all that goes into a car like this. The car still features creature comforts such as air conditioning, navigation and of course a radio. These things were usually removed or limited in previous versions of serious M cars such as these, but this time an M4 GTS client does not have to get heat stroke after many laps on the track.
Speaking of laps, the M4 GTS has been wonderfully designed for that purpose. A lap timer that records data and helps the driver see vital elements of his/her lap around the track is fitted. This can be shared via social media too. Besides software geared for track driving, the M4 GTS’ rear wing and Coilover suspension are adjustable to suit the driver’s preferences on the track. The M Drive menu is a beefed up version of the system you get in all new BMW’s that allows you to set the car up for Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. This M Drive menu is way more specialised, though, allowing the driving to change and set various details on the M1 or M2 button on the steering wheel. Some of these changes include, the steering (via the Servotronic System button), accelerator characteristics (via the M Motor dynamic Control system) and the damping of the car. All settings can be optimised for track and road use.
The BMW M4 GTS is a distinct M car regarding aesthetic appeal. The cars’ front splitter, rear wing, orange rims and special paintwork make you look and look again. Frozen Dark Grey, Sapphire Black and of course Alpine White are three of the colours you can choose from. The M4 GTS’ head lights are also one of a kind, using Organic LED technology that is also a first from BMW. A Clubsport Package adds a role cage to the car and six point harnesses on the seats. The car rides on 19-inch wheels in the front and 20-inch wheels in the rear, which are fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres.
The BMW M4 GTS is an incredible feat from BMW, once again they have produced a car that makes people who can’t afford it, hate those who can. The numbers are limited to 700 units, and the majority of those are going to the USA. Hopefully, we will see a few of the M4 GTS’ seeing their way to South Africa. If not, YouTube and overseas car shows will have to do. (shedding tears)
BMW has an interesting pedigree when it comes to motor racing. In the early 1970’s a car called the 3.0 CSL was created purely for that reason, that of touring car racing. This car featured a bold design, bright colours and light weight construction method suited for racing. The car was fitted first with a 3.0l engine and then a slightly larger 3.1l and finally a very special 3.5l in line six cylinder engine producing over 150 kW. Due to the cars distinct look, it earned the nickname “Batmobile” because of its aero package, a name easy to understand when looking at the large bumpers and spoilers fitted on the car.
The 3.0 CSL won championships such as the European Touring Car Championship and Le Mans, making it a legend of its time. As a result BMW have decided to pay homage to the car by creating a very unique modern day rendition of the car, appropriately named the 3.0 CSL Hommage. The car debuted in May 2015 and recently an “R” version of the concept has been revealed, featuring the legendary racing colours of BMW. Looking at both cars, one can see the design cues from the original car that have been modernised for a new era. The design is a love-hate one, with some loving the distinct looks and some finding the car a bit too retro for their liking. We think the 3.0 CSL’s Hommage’s design is striking and rather beautiful too, especially when kitted in the racing colours. The car is truly something special, with a futuristic interior that works with a helmet visor that populates data to the drivers visor. That alone is why we want BMW to make this car, hopefully we will get see this project come into production.
The engine ticking in the 3.0 CSL is also an inline-six engine paired with an eBoost hybrid system similar to that in BMW’s “I” products. This means that the car produces instant responsiveness and power. The car is obviously a concept but BMW’s seriousness to the project seems like we could see something similar to this in the future. If this were to happen, this would be amazing for BMW lovers and historic racing lovers around the world. Happy Modded Monday Motorists.