TheMotorist Attends the South African Motoring Experience 2017
Following a turn-out of 51 000 patrons last year, Kyalami Proves year and year again to be the hub of all motoring shenanigans. 2017’s Festival was different to the years past given the strange partnership with a Boat show, which was ‘same, same but different’; although it was the Motoring Experience S opposed to the Festival of Motoring, which only takes place every second year. Nevertheless, the boats were still a very popular attraction and reminded many that boats are rather cool. The largest attraction without a doubt was the Pit Lane, test drives and ride alongs which allowed for anyone off the street to have either the experience of driving some of their favourite cars on the track or have the trained drivers hurl them around at breakneck speeds. Unsurprisingly the waits were long and plentiful but warranted by the smiles on hundreds of faces afterwards, suggesting that this was all worth it.
Personally, the long quest for smiles proved a bit too daunting and I opted for a ride in the more exclusive stuff that I hadn’t yet sampled namely the Lexus LC 500 on a track which was a rather enlightening experience with the GT being a lot less luxury cruiser and more Apex bruiser on the track. The space in the rear was not amazing and more so when you have a racing driver attacking Sunset Corner at 180km/h plus and your face feels like it’s coming off, and knees rather numb. The was the usual mix of V8 Jags and Range Rovers, AMG Merc’s, fast VW’s and RS Audi’s to sample around the track but no BMW – partly due large to their own exclusive M Festival next month and the presence of new faces to the festival’s Pit area. The likes of Suzuki, BAIC, Haval and even Peugeot’s 3008 SUV were taking to the track, all of whom offering the chance to sample a track driving experience and most importantly for the manufacturer, a chance to drive their latest products. Having again sampled the larger portion of their offerings, the three the stand out model for me by-in-large the Haval H6 and H6C, which for a Chinese entry into the market is really impressive, good road manners, good power and even when kicked around on a track still proved well put together with no rattles or squeaks to my nit-picking ears. Another surprise was the debut of the BAIC X25, which again drove rather well, and this was a view few shared me and the drivers. There was a fair amount of shove from the 85 kW-1.5 Litre engine, enough to make the drive fun enough on track but again I was surprised at the level of refinement, both in the chassis and in the interior, proving that the Chinese are most defiantly upping their game in terms of vehicle manufacturing.
Moving around the festival, there was much to see from all the manufacturers; interactive experiences of active safety systems, tandem attacks at the Skid pan and even Aerobatics stunts from the very loud Puma Energy stunt planes. Cell C’s Supercar Zone was another clear favourite with the presence of a rather young looking man in a suit with the keys to Aston’s DB11 and a Malaren 570S. The Suited Youth would turn them on and allow for rev’s and pictures in the machines, much to the approval of the crowd. In the same room was Bentley’s new Continental GT Speed, an Aventador S, and and R8 V10 Sypder, all in bright colours aside from the black 911 Turbo hidden in the corner.
4X4 Fans were not forgotten as a short shuttle ride took you to the mud and dust where the diff locks and hill descent controls were more important. Providing an in-depth look into the more slow paced stuff, where speed is not the objective. On showcase was the New Pajero Sport, which was highly capable on the track and yet still rather well appointed and less rudimentary than the previous models. With striking looks and very clear off-road ability and comfort, it’s an interesting alternative to the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest. The 4×4 track was rather tricky and difficult with all kinds of grip testing and axle twisting stuff and the likes of the VW Amarok V6, Nissan Navara and the G range of Mercedes-Benz SUV’s, with the exclusion of the tamer GLC and GLA. The Renault Duster made an appearance and proved it’s not as soft as one would think but lacking in low-range and hill-descent control, and instead of a very skillfully footed instructor and a slightly different track with only the Plucky little Suzuki Jimny keeping up with the behemoths that were the double cabs and Diff-look toting SUV’s.
In the various rooms and looking points, the list of exotic cars and classics that we saw last year was not as extensive with no ‘Porsche Room’ and 918’s just a hall with exhibitors trying to sell you car related stuff at inflated prices, like an Automotive rand show, well I thought this until I saw a few classic Ferrari’s Like the 264 Gt Dino and older brother 308 GT4. Race 1 brought a large collection of wide-body super and hyper-cars, but overall internally not as great as 2016.
Overall, this year’s festival as a day out in the sun with the family or as the group of enthusiasts is an ideal way of spending your day if you like keeping up to date with the trends of the motoring world. I wouldn’t miss it at all but as always, the rather lengthy queues in the pits, even from as early as 10 am, do mean you must be rather patient if you want a ride around the track but for the experience, it’s difficult to rival. If I was to break it down in terms of highlights, low lights and a numerical rating out of 10, it would be simple, The KIA Stinger 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 coupe on the track and the ever developing Chinese were standouts for me, as were the dynamics of the X25 BIAC and H6 Haval and 2018 Nissan 370Z which is rather dated but still quick. The Lengthy queues and pricey vendors of refreshments no so much but forgivable, overall a solid 8 from The Motorist.
The next event will be the BMW M Festival in October and we’ll most definitely be there, providing the ins and outs to the happenings of the day.