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category_outlined / Cars & Motorcycles

topCar September 2015

Topcar provides unmissable coverage of the wide world of cars in a monthly magazine loaded with beautiful images, in-depth analysis and unbiased opinion by a passionate team of experts.

South Africa
Media 24 Ltd
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times, they are a changin’

SEE THAT SWEDISH behemoth on our cover? That’s powered by a ‘mere’ four-cylinder engine. So is our test fleet’s massive Toyota Prado, albeit in a more sensible diesel format. And while our two road tests this month, the Suzuki Ciaz and facelifted Ford Focus, may seem unremarkable there’s no denying that the future is creeping in a little at times, a lot at others. Take for example the new Audi R8 I just drove in Portugal. Yes, it looks a lot like its predecessor in a finer-pressed suit, but when I performed hot laps of the Portimao Autodromo at its launch, I did so at midnight thanks to laser lighting technology. Actual frikkin’ lasers. Finger quotes. You can bet that it will filter right down to your lowly A1 eventually. Dr…

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the new a4: in audi’s own words

Longer, wider, roomier ‘The car is slightly longer [rear legroom is up 23mm] but it looks even longer, more elegant,’ continues designer Lamberty. ‘We have an important character line running down the side of the car. The glasshouse is low, quite chopped [though front passenger headroom is up 24mm], but this car is honest as a sedan – we didn’t try to do a coupe with this car. The increased track widths also give us strong shoulders and nice strong arches, to emphasise quattro.’ Lighter, with an improved ride and better steering ‘Weight reduction was one of our main goals,’ explains Dr Horst Glaser, head of chassis development [Audi claims the A4’s 120kg lighter than the old, depending on model]. ‘We have used more aluminium parts in combination with high-strength steel. The five-link…

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‘rivals are cold, boring – this is the new alfa!’

SO THIS IS the Giulia, the first of the new Alfa Romeo saloons. With rear-wheel drive no less, and in this flagship Cloverleaf form, a 375kW twin-turbo V6 that dusts BMW’s M3 to the tune of 58kW. It’s fair to say we were not expecting such a high performance thrust, when the Italians invited us to Arese to witness Alfa’s rebirth. It was the most Italian of world premieres: soaring rhetoric (‘It’s more than a car, it’s an Alfa Romeo!’ ‘Other premium brands are cold, technocratic, even boring: it’s time to go back to feeling the car and the road again!’), delirious passion, even blind opera singer Andrea Bocelli thundering Nessun Dorma as the car was revealed. There’s a lot at stake. A range of eight all-new Alfas is charged with selling…

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changing fortunes

ON STYLING ALONE it clearly eschews the previous SUV’s utilitarian presence in favour of a more overt exterior, but Toyota says it won’t lose any of its strength and genuine all-terrain capability. The need-to-knows of the second-gen seven-seater (beginning life as the Hilux Sport Rider of 1998, before going global in 2005 with the model Saffas know and love) are its totally redesigned body, more premium interior and a range of new engines. The design brief was simple. ‘Design a Fortuner that can compete in terms of style and aesthetics while staying true to its authentic SUV characteristics and genuine 4WD performance,’ says Calvyn Hamman, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing, Toyota SA. To that end the 2016 Fortuner ushers in a new design language Toyota chooses to call ‘Solid Fluidity’. That oxymoron…

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playtime is over trackday toys just got serious

Lotus 3-Eleven This is the most expensive Lotus series production car ever – and you don’t even get a roof. Think of it as the antidote to the excessive pipedreams of the Bahar era: a stripped-back road-racer that trades creature comforts for low weight and high performance. That isn’t the same as saying the 3-Eleven is basic. The bodywork, for example, is made from a new ‘resin infusion composite’ some 40% lighter than conventional glassfibre reinforced plastic. The interior gets a full-colour digital instrument cluster with road and race settings. And out back, nestled within the latest Lotus extruded aluminium chassis, is a 335kW evolution of the supercharged V6 from the Evora, capable of 0-100 in under 3.0sec and 290kph flat-out in ‘Road’ configuration. Alternatively, there’s a ‘Race’ 3-Eleven, complete with…

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the next big things by bmw’s powertrain guru

BY 2020 BMW will have a fully operational hydrogen powertrain ready for production, and soon Germany and Japan will have the infrastructure to make it viable… > ‘People often ask why BMW stopped developing hydrogen technology, but we never did; we have been working on it constantly for 30 years. Small-to-medium-sized battery-electric vehicles are ideal for urban use, and plug-in hybrids can be used across the range to cover all driving conditions. Hydrogen offers zero emissions and very high levels of energy storage, so it’s ideal for longer ranges of up to 700km and larger vehicles. Eventually, fuel-cells will be cheaper than battery-electric vehicles. > The need for hydrogen is not only driven by zero-emissions vehicles, it’s essential so we can store renewable energy. After Fukushima, Germany decided to phase out nuclear…