Like it or loathe it, the first-generation Audi Q3 was a sales leviathan for the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer. No one much appreciated its sober, overly rounded aesthetic, but Audi’s baby SUV did a sterling job in bringing tall-riding convenience to mainstream buyer consciousness. Now a second-generation model has arrived, sporting more kit, more space (97mm longer, 18mm wider, 78mm-longer wheelbase and 60 litres additional boot space) and a much more angular, aggressive style palette in the S line model pictured. Audi has achieved this with a new octagonal single-frame grille and squared-off wheel arch accents. Wheel sizes have been inched-up from 17- to 20-inch (on a Q3!), and new, contemporary wheel designs can be found littering the options catalogue. Interior wise, it borrows clean, horizontal lines a-la A8 and A7, and the firm’s latest MMI touchscreen system is industry leading. However, the big news comes under the bonnet and under the boot badging. Diesel, of course, is a dirty word anywhere in VAG land, so at launch there will be three TFSI petrol models, and just one TDI. The petrol derivatives will consist of 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbos badged as 35, 40 and 45 TFSI respectively, and an oil-burner sexily titled the 35 TDI.
Early 2019 – Arrival date of new Q3 in SA
Keeping with the mini-SUV theme, Porsche has revealed version 2.0 of its segment-busting Macan. Yes, the car most Porsche nuts said they should never make, is their most successful seller and probably their best vehicle kilo for kilo. Except, unlike the Audi you’ve just read about, it isn’t a totally new model, more of a mid-life facelift with a tech rejig. You could argue it didn’t need any fixing to start with, but in true Stuttgart fashion the engineers have uprated the chassis, cleaned up the exterior styling and added heaps more luxury on the inside, along with the infotainment system from the Panamera. Perhaps most significant to the new model is its adaptation of the new Cayenne- and 718-inspired three-dimensional LED taillight strip; while the four-point spotlights so popular within the company right now are present and correct up front. The squatter, sportier execution is teamed with optional 21-inch rims and a host of new colours like Miami Blue, Mamba Green. You get the message, right – the Porsche Macan has graduated to the level of total badass. Expect to see this badassery land in SA in early 2019.
Full HD 11-inch touchscreen – Can it get any bigger?
Ares Panther supercar
You might remember Dany Bahar, the infamous ex-Lotus boss who flushed millions of the small sports-car manufacturers’ money down the drain on half a dozen completely unrealistic concept cars and lavish launch events awash with Hollywood celebrities. Well, his new company, Ares, specialising in custom, build-it-first-then-figure-out-how-to-pay-for-it supercars has come up with something. It’s pretty cool, actually. Ares takes an existing car – in this case a Lamborghini Huracan – and fiddles with the bodywork to give it a pointier nose, chunkier backend and some additional carbon fibre bits. Then it bores out the Audi V10 to 5.6 litres and hey presto – a charismatic supercar like from the olden days of custom coachbuilders is the end product. The Panther Project, as it’s known, is meant to be a modern-day DeTomaso Pantera, and the asking price is R8 million plus. Nice one, Dany.
21 will be made – So exclusivity guaranteed
Lister Thunder LFT-666
Keeping with a modified-sports-car refrain, here’s another one that’s been fettled by a third party with a requisite price bump. The Thunder starts life as a Jaguar F-Type SVR – already a seriously potent performance car out the factory door – and only then do the brutal Brits set to work. The difference between Ares and Lister, though, is the latter has a long and distinguished heritage of pumping up fast Jags to well beyond eleven. And that name? Well, you probably remember the Lister Storm, now here’s the Lister Thunder. Except, the production car will be called the LFT-666, with 666 signifying the horsepower output (495 kW). To compensate for such devilish power, the suspension has been upgraded. That sounds like a good plan to us.
335 km/h – Hello, increased top speed
Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan
Mercedes-Benz’s new A-Class sedan won’t only be destined for sedan-loving China as first predicted. Now built in Germany and Mexico – it will also be available in Europe and right across the world by the end of the year. Much like the previous CLA, which was an A-Class sedan no matter how the German manufacturer tried to spin it, the new sedan boasts the lowest coefficient of drag of any mass produced car – 0.22 Cd. Interestingly, the hatch comes in at 0.25, so aerodynamists take note; it’s all down to that streamlined rear end. The A180d and A200 Renault-Nissan alliance derived turbo petrols with 7-speed automatic transmission will launch the range off.
120 kW – Not bad for a base 1.4-litre motor
Nissan Leaf Nismo
Ah, the crazy Japanese, you’ve got to love them. Only they would take technology that’s meant to unburden the world of pollution, noxious and green-house gasses – the humble electric vehicle – and redeploy it in an arena of speed. Of course, such unique tastes aren’t commonplace around the world, so it comes as little surprise the Nissan Motorsport (Nismo) Leaf will only be available in Japan. The hot hatch EV features a custom ECU for quicker acceleration, chunky Continental ContiSportContact tyres for zesty grip and tweaked sports suspension. There are a host of red and black Nismo go-faster bits, too, that may or may not actually increase downforce. And the actual performance increase? No one knows, Nissan hasn’t released any such inane details on a performance car. Good job, Nissan.
20 000 units – The amount of Nissan Leafs sold worldwide to date
Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport rally
Long before Porsche was the dominant force in sports, GT and endurance racing, the first-ever 911 took part in competition in rallying back in 1965 at the Monte Carlo Rally. Entered by the Porsche factory and driven by Herbert Linge and Peter Falk, the car placed fifth but the whole exercise was actually devised as a clever testbed for the flat-six sports car that would eventually go on sale to Joe Public. And as we know with the most illustrious sports car maker in the world, the rest, as they say, is history.
But now after a long absence in rallying, Porsche Motorsport is working on this, a Clubsport GT4 718 Cayman rally car for privateers and customer teams alike. Still early days in the process, it will run in a World Rally Championship event at Rallye Deautschland and aims to satisfy FIA R-GT category rules which is largely a road-based formula. Making use of a 285 kW 3.8-litre naturally aspirated flat-six motor, sending power to the rear wheels only, it’ll be chocks away, let’s get sliding.
Early 2019 – Expected ETA of customer cars