People don’t buy regular hatchbacks anymore, do they? That may very well be the case, but for the past twenty years (the original Focus was launched back in 1998) they have been (try 16 million worldwide) and the Focus has been the car that’s come closest to unseating the erstwhile Golfie as uber-mensch peoples’ champion. For its fourth-generation hatch, in true Blue Oval fashion, Ford’s made three big improvements to give it an edge over its competition: More interior space, now class-leading according to Ford, revised handling and best-in-class aerodynamic efficiency to boost fuel economy by 12%. While all the new driver assistance systems like level 2 autonomy is what you’d expect from a much more expensive vehicle. In fact, Ford says this is now the Blue Ovals most advanced car. Period. All this family car goodness comes courtesy of a new platform that pushes the wheels further to the corners, giving it its inherent benefits without adding the dreaded new-car bloat. It’s actually between 50 – 80kg lighter than previously, depending on model. The engines introduced in Europe include a 1.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol, as well as a new 1.5-litre TDCi. No word yet on whether the new Focus will be sold with the latter in South Africa.
91 kW – from Ford’s award-winning EcoBoost engine
Lexus invents the ‘perfect’ colour
Paint colours – all cars need them but few carmakers genuinely push the pigment boundaries. I mean, a manufacturer will spend millions in R&D each year to develop a slick touchscreen that only the owner will use, but what about its exterior colour, something hundreds of people can admire every time the car takes to the streets. Well, Lexus has taken the lead on this one, and developed what it says is the perfect colour. It’s blue. What’s even more fascinating than the firm’s belief that the perfect colour is blue, is the process of creating the ‘deepest and most lustrous’ colour ever worn by a motor vehicle. Lexus calls it Structural Blue, in fact, and there’s actually no blue pigment in it at all. The project’s been 15 years in development and takes inspiration from the American Morpho butterfly’s iridescent blue wings. Despite appearances, the wings are colourless, the blue seen by the human eye is created by light interference on the microscopic lattice surface structure of the wings itself. Lexus’ Takumi craftsman replicated such high luminance and colour saturation by developing a new kind of multi-layered pigment, who’s desired quality was only possible by using 40 separate layers of paint, filled with billions of nano-structures. 40 layers! The result is conventional paints reflect 50% of incoming light, but Structural Blue is a perfect 100%. Structural Blue is available exclusively on a limited run of LC500s.
300 billion – the amount of pigment flakes in each Structural Blue LC500
Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo
From gaming to reality in 2.5 sec. As part of its unique gaming world, popular racing simulator Gran Turismo allows you to drive exclusive Vision Gran Turismo concept cars from mainstream manufacturers the world over. Audi was so impressed by its own GT creation, it’s actually gone and built a real life version, you know, to be driven by humans instead of AI bots. It’s an e-tron which means its all-electric and claims 600 kW of total power output from two separate motors driving the two rear wheels independently and one motor in charge of the front axle. It will be in action at the next Formula E race in Rome and used as a race ridealong taxi at future European ePrixs.
50:50 – perfect weight distribution (rare for an Audi)
Jaguar F-Pace SVR
Following the world’s seemingly irreversible trend towards pointless sports SUVs, Jaguar’s thrown its hat into the ring with a fettled F-Pace SVR. Debuting at the New York auto show, people (mostly Brits) think the standard F-Pace is an excellent car. It’s good looking, sure, but it rides and drives nothing as well as an equivalent BMW or Mercedes-Benz, and we suspect adding JLR’s aged supercharged 5.0-litre V8 will do little to improve proceedings. Watch us be proved wrong.
4.3 sec – SVR’s meaningless 0-100 km/h time
Fresh from its Beijing reveal, meet the next Volkswagen Touareg. Yes, it’s still got too many vowels in its name, but no, it’s left that fuddy-duddy value shortfall of most big VWs behind. You know the one we mean: where it’s no better or more technologically advanced than a Golf despite being much bigger and more expensive. This new Touareg promises serious luxury and sophistication. Just take a look at the ‘Innovision’ interior, a 12-inch Digital Cockpit combined with another even larger 15-inch display, which dominates much of the dashboard. Hi-tech, indeed. The rest is brilliant bulletproof VW engineering.
106 kg – Touareg’s weight loss after a healthy diet
Five generations, my-my, hasn’t the little Rav4 changed over the years. The original’s pint-sized proportions and genuine 4×4 capabilities seem a far cry from the latest one revealed at the New York auto show, all set-square styling and brash, aren’t-you-impressed-by-my-right-angles angles. Two powertrains are available at launch: 2.0-litre petrol with a manual gearbox and 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid in CVT only. Interestingly, there’s no talk of a diesel, which is a shame considering in the current Rav4 range it’s the D-4D that offers best value in its segment. Expect the new Rav4 to make landfall early 2019.
30mm – longer wheelbase than the current Rav4
Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo Tribute
Imagine a race series with absolutely no rules. Fan cars, ground effect, active suspension, traction control and unlimited horsepower – just imagine how fast those cars would be. Now stop torturing yourself and forget about it, because it’s simply impossible. All forms of racing, above any other sporting discipline, are mired in rules for the safety of the drivers and the ‘fairness’ of the sport, so that teams with deepest pockets don’t simply run away with victory every weekend. However, now that Porsche has retired its awe-inspiring Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid LMP1 racer, Zuffenhausen has built a no-limits version – an Evo 919 it’s doing a tribute tour with. The goal is to claim as many outright track records it can. And it’s fast, like, faster than F1 fast! On its first outing it blitzed Belgium’s historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit at the hands of Porsche ace, Neel Jani. He set a time of 1 min 41.77 sec, besting the existing record – Lewis Hamilton’s pole time from the 2017 F1 GP of 1 min 42.55 sec for the 2017 GP – by seven tenths, that’s decades in motorsport terms. Fritz Enzinger, Vice President of Porsche’s LMP1 program said, ‘Our target was to show what the Porsche 919 Hybrid is able to do when we loosen the restrictions that normally come from the regulations. Today’s lap was twelve seconds faster compared to our WEC pole position from last year.’ Come on Porsche, next target, Nurburgring Nordschleife. Just do it!