Face time in your Toyota

In an ever increasingly connected world where ‘Dick Tracy’ watches allow video chatting with friends while monitoring exercise and heartbeat, it comes as no surprise wi-fi is moving into the cars we drive and Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), in collaboration with partners Altron and Vodacom Business, takes that leap locally… and globally.

In-car Wi-Fi will be available on all new Toyota and Lexus models.

Known as Toyota Connect, the new connectivity hub will be housed within the MyToyota App which was launched in 2014. The technology allows Toyota owners access to a myriad of convenience, connectivity and safety benefits.


While TSAM is currently the only manufacturer in South Africa to offer a mobile App that is fully integrated with manufacturer and dealer systems, it also becomes the first organisation – the world over – to offer the convergence of Wi-Fi and connectivity features in one package across the model range.

“As of September 1, all new Toyota and Lexus models sold in South Africa will come standard with in-car Wi-Fi including 15GB free data (which you can top up) as well as a host of connectivity features and benefits courtesy of Toyota Connect, a major extension of the MyToyota App,” says President and CEO of TSAM, Andrew Kirby.

According to Kirby: “As Toyota transitions from being an automotive to a mobility-solutions organisation, it becomes imperative to collaborate with companies whose visions align with ours. The importance of telematics and telecommunications in tomorrow’s vehicles cannot be overstated – hence our partnership with global technology group Altron (through Netstar) and Vodacom in this project.

“Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of how connected technologies can enhance their lives and our task as a forward-thinking organisation is to evolve in tandem with market expectations.”

Through its subsidiary, Netstar, Altron jointly designed and developed the bespoke technology platform with Toyota, which enables Internet of Things (IoT) aspects such as telematics and fleet management.

Altron Group Chief Executive Mteto Nyati says: “This locally-developed technology enables connectivity and gives real-time data to both Toyota and its customers. It positions Altron and South Africa as relevant players in the internet of things globally. We are truly excited about this collaboration.”

“Once a customer has opted in, the data aggregated from the telematics module will provide insights to Toyota, their dealer network, customers, fleet owners and third-party service providers such as the Automobile Association (AA), providing accident and breakdown assistance,” says Nyati.

William Mzimba, Chief Officer at Vodacom Business says: “This partnership is a key part of Vodacom’s IoT strategy, and is a step closer to realising our ambition to create opportunities for innovation in South Africa as well as the broader continent, bolstered by growth in IoT. Just like smartphones, cars today will need to be connected to provide a dynamic user experience.

“We are witnessing an increasing number of car buyers ranking in-car technology as important as vehicle performance. They want their cars to be safe, efficient, better equipped and fun. By connecting people to platforms that will manage the complexity of streaming music from the cloud, real-time traffic information and personalised roadside assistance, we can meet these growing demands.”

The benefits of Toyota Connect can be grouped into three main areas: Connectivity features, Convenience and Safety features.

From a Connected point of view, the big news is that every new Toyota and Lexus will come standard with in-car Wi-Fi – including 15GB free data (SA only) as a once-off upon activation. Thereafter, customers can top up using Toyota Connect or their banking Apps.
When it comes to Convenience, Service Booking reminds customers when their vehicles are due for servicing, factoring in all the back-end elements when you book directly on the App. The Logbook facility automatically saves a digital log of your vehicle’s mileage and service history for tax-submission purposes, including auto-allocation for work and home, as well as business and personal trips. The GPS locator gives you peace of mind, enabling you to find your vehicle easily and get a view of your trips.
Under Safety, there is Roadside Assistance with impact detection – meaning that customers will have real-time support with AA-access for 24/7. The Battery Health Check reflects the real-time status of the customer vehicle’s battery health. The Driver Score feature encourages safer driving: customers can review their driver rating and keep track of their scores and overall driver behaviour.

“This is just the start of an exciting journey. We are thrilled about the imminent addition of benefits such as licence renewal, which will allow Toyota Connect users the ability to renew their vehicle licence disc via the technology and have it delivered to their address of choice. Toyota Connect partners are also working on expanding benefits for fleet and small business owners as well as car rental support. We will share details about these exciting developments in the near future,” concludes Kirby.

Ooh La La time in France

With just 14 points separating the top three drivers there will plenty of ‘Ooh La La’ at the high-speed Loheac Circuit in France for the Bretagne World RX of France this weekend.

From seven of the 10 races so far there have been six different event winners, no shortage of incidents and a host of surprises and Team Hansen MJP’s Kevin Hansen (143 points) maintains a five-point gap over Monster RX Cartel’s Andreas Bakkerud (138) with Timmy Hansen third on 129.


On paper Timmy looms as the man to beat in France. He won in Loheac in 2015 and is a five-time qualifying race winner at the venue. He will look to make amends for an indifferent performance at round seven in Canada.

“It’s been a while since we have won a race – the last time was Silverstone – but I think we have good chances in Loheac,” he says.

“It is a good circuit for us: the car has been developed and tested on circuits like this, and it is like a second home being there. We spend so much time in France and the French fans really embrace us. We feel really welcomed when we go there, so I am excited.

“I like those situations like we had in 2015, when I win the qualifying, get pole position, make a good start, get out front and drive my own race.

“It is a new year, new challenge, so I have to be focused again and do everything I can to drive fast, make good starts and take the right decisions.”

Trailing brother Kevin by just six points entering the Canadian round, his Peugeot 208 was damaged in multi-car contact in Q4 which cost him a place in the semi-finals.

According to Kevin, Canada was an aberration which Team Hansen are keen not to repeat.

“We were not the Team Hansen I am used to in Canada, which is fine and that is why we are here: we are here to learn, improve and be better. We are up for the challenge to really compete for race wins and the championship,” he said.

“I think we became a bit lost in the lead we had in the championship and were a bit safe, so now we have learned from that and we can go back to the way we were. We are fast as hell, we work the hardest with the fewest people, and we are the best rallycross team in the world with the two best drivers.

“In Loheac we will just aim to come back to that, enjoy it and make it work like we did at the beginning of the season with the correct focus.”

The main beneficiary in Canada was Bakkerud in the Monster Energy RX Cartel Audi S1. The Norwegian took victory in Trois-Rivieres and leap-frogged Timmy in the pecking order.


Bakkerud, whose win in Canada was his first of the 2019 campaign, was the Euro RX winner in 2013 and has reached the last three World RX finals in Loheac – finishing runner-up in 2016 and 2018. He carries momentum in to Loheac but expects another tight tussle.

“I cannot wait to come back to Loheac. It is probably the biggest event we have on the calendar if you count the people around,” he said.

“Also, we have seen how close the championship is, with six different winners in the first seven races. I think Loheac will be the same. There are a few French drivers who can come and mix up the World RX field and make a big part of how the championship is going to end this year.

“I’ve had ups and downs in Loheac also. My biggest up is the win in 2013, and my lowest point where probably last year when we should have won, but did a wrong joker strategy and ended second behind the ‘unbeatable’ Johan Kristoffersson.”

Niclas Gronholm, fourth in the standings on 115 points despite missing two rounds this year through illness, is part of a GRX Taneco three-card line-up for France.

Gronholm and fellow GRX regular Timur Timerzyanov are joined by Finland’s Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen in Hyundai i20s.

Timerzyanov lies sixth in the title chase on 102 points in a season highlighted by a maiden World RX win at Spa-Francorchamps in round three.

Heikkinen has wins in Belgium in 2014 and 2015 on his World RX record and there is also a reappearance for the French Pailler brothers Fabien and Jonathan following their previous outing at Holjes in a pair of Peugeot 208s. Fellow-Frenchman Herve Knapick campaigns his Citroen DS3.

GC Kompetition team boss Guerlain Chicherit is looking to maintain the team’s recent momentum and impress on home soil.


“We’ve shown massive improvements race on race and now it’s time to show what GCK is capable of in front of our home crowd,” the Frenchman said.

“Loheac is a highlight of the season for me and it’s always incredible to race in front of so many awesome fans – we’re all determined to show them some unforgettable race action this weekend.”

Fellow Frenchman and GC Academy driver Cyril Raymond, a Euro RX winner at Loheac, believes his Renault Clio will be suited to the sweeping track layout. “I’m really excited to race at home. It will be a big challenge to be in the final but I’ll do my absolute maximum on track.

“I think the Clio has very good potential on this circuit. It’s the most important weekend of my RX life,” he said.

Belgium’s Guillaume De Ridder, something of an adopted Frenchman, is also looking at Loheac as a home race. “I am really looking forward to Lohéac because it’s like a second home event for me since I have been living and working in Paris for three years now,” he said.

“I love reuniting and being supported by both Belgian and French fans in Brittany. On top of that, I love the track and it suits me quite well, looking back at our domination in RX2 there last year.

Sweden’s Anton Marklund, a consistent performer this season and Lithuania’s Rokas Baciuska, who is aiming for his first final appearance since joining the French outfit in Norway, complete the five-car GCK line-up.

Team STARD’s Janis Baumanis, second in Canada, will look to extend his run of final appearances – five out of seven to date. He is joined in the second STARD Ford Fiesta by Finland’s Jani Paasonen.

Bakkerud’s Monster RX Cartel team-mate Liam Doran, and ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport’s Timo Scheider in the Skoda Fabia will doubtless look to avoid the contact they had in their semi-final in Canada to go one better in France.


Britain’s Oliver Bennett has reached a semi-final this year and is due a change of fortune in the Xite Racing Mini Cooper after sustaining suspension damage in Q3 in the previous round. The same can be said for EKS Sport’s Krisztian Szabo who was fifth in his semi-final in Canada.

A total of 51 Supercars will feature in the Loheac weekend, with a capacity 30-car field in Euro RX Supercar.

Colin Windell is a Brand Ambassador

WRX South Africa

Indulge thyself – Nissan GT-R

For anyone with a couple of million spare and looking for an early ‘Xmas present to Self’, the Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition is now available in South Africa, having made its debut at the New York International Auto Show earlier this year.


“A GT-R is about total balance management,” says Hiroshi Tamura, chief product specialist for the GT-R. “It is not about chasing a power figures, but creating a new GT-R, where no aspect has been overlooked. This is appropriate to celebrate the GT-R 50th anniversary.”

The 2020 Nissan GT-R will come in two trim levels in the South African market: GT-R Premium and GT-R Black Edition. In select regions, there will also be the Pure, Prestige and NISMO models, but it is the 50th  Anniversary Edition that truly celebrates the GT-R’s rich heritage.

The special edition car will come in three heritage-era, two-tone exterior colour combinations meant to represent the GT-R’s liveries from the Japan GP series – of which the original GT-R was born to dominate in.


Retired since the GT-R ‘R34’ model, Bayside (Wangan) Blue makes a return, complete with white racing stripes. A four-coat, double-heat treatment process ensures a vivid blue with striking highlights and deep shadows. Blue accents on the wheel spokes are among several fine touches made to celebrate the GT-R’s milestone. Pearl White with red stripes and Super Silver with white stripes round out the 50th Anniversary liveries.

Inside the 50th Anniversary Edition is a special grey interior colour scheme, which gives the cabin a sense of luxury, reminiscent of the atmosphere of the night sky after the twilight hour. Additional 50th anniversary features include unique steering wheel and shift knob trim, special seat embossing, an Alcantara headliner with unique stitching, Alcantara-wrapped sunvisors, and more.


“The Nissan GT-R has been the icon of our company’s driving performance for the past half century,” says Shinichiro Irie, program design director for the GT-R. “We were highly motivated to ensure the GT-R 50th  Anniversary Edition stands out. While the exterior and interior changes may seem subtle at first glance,  they are still impactful, especially with the new paint schemes, keeping the car’s lines and overall presence modern and edgy.”

 The refinement and performance of the GT-R’s 410 kW 3,8-litre V6 24-valve twin turbo-charged engine has a few new tricksincluding new turbo-chargers, which help increase the engine’s low rpm response due to an abradable seal, providing tighter clearances and a 5% increase in efficiency.

Overall, they provide even sharper engine response in and out of corners, making the driving experience more rewarding and richer than ever before. The exhaust manifolds, inspired by racing technology, have optimised turbo flange attachment points, which allow for easier servicing and potential tuning, without touching the exhaust manifold.


‘GT-R features a revised 6-speed dual-clutch transmission with a refined ‘R mode,” made for both road and track. It features more aggressive downshifts to better anticipate swift cornering exits, with gear selection happening during ABS engagement, resulting in reduced understeer and a more driver-intuitive feeling.

The adaptive shift control is programmed to change shift schedules to fit the user’s driving style, making it possible to drive according to the law on public roads, with full brute force available on the racetrack, without needing to manually change shift modes.

The GT-R’s signature exhaust note is the product of a new titanium muffler, featuring titanium finishers with burnished blue tips.

The electronically controlled suspension has been tuned to provide better cornering stability and a smoother ride. The steering is more linear and precise than ever, requiring minimal corrections at speeds of up to 300 km/h. A new brake booster increases the initial braking response by engaging with less pedal stroke, resulting in enhanced stopping power and feel.

 The driver-oriented cockpit has comfortable yet supportive seats for both front and rear passengers and the dashboard is designed to convey a ‘horizontal flow’, delivering a sense of high stability for front seat occupants.


The centre dashboard integrates navigation and audio controls and an 8-inch capacitive touch-panel monitor. The large icons on the display screen inform the driving experience without distracting from it.

Mounted to the sporty steering wheel are shift paddles that allow drivers to change gears in mid-turn without taking their hands off the wheel.

 2020 GT-R specifications

Engine                                                 VR38DETT, V6 Twin-Turbo charged DOHC

Displacement                                        3.8L

Horsepower                                          550hp or 410kW

Torque                                                632Nm @ 3300-5800 rpm

Overall length                                       4710 mm

Overall width                                        1895 mm

Overall height                                       1370 mm

Wheelbase                                           2780 mm


Premium Edition: R 2 250 000

Black Edition: R 2 360 000

GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition

  • Pearl White with Red Decals: R 2 405 000
  • Ultimate Silver with White Decals: R 2 405 000
  • Bayside Blue with White Decals: R 2 415 000

Sportier look for Audi Q3

The new Audi Q3 SUV takes on a bolder look with redesigned octagon front grille along with narrow headlights and refined shoulder line running towards the rear.

The contours draw inspiration from Audi’s quattro DNA and make the SUV seem even wider; the colour-contrasting wheel arch trims (in the Standard and Advanced trim lines) emphasize the off-road look, while the body coloured version (in the S Line trim line) offers a sportier character.


Customers for the new Q3 have many options for customising their car. These include a contrasting paint finish for the lower body section while, with the S line exterior package, the bumpers, sill trims and diffuser look decidedly sporty and 11 paint colours are available.


Inside, the instrument panel is divided into two levels: the top part includes the air vents; the bottom section incorporates the large octagonal area with its black-panel look. The instrument panel varies the motif of the Singleframe and is surrounded by a wide chrome strip.

Q3 customers can choose between two variants over and above the standard version – the sports package and the S line sports interior package. Both packages include the sport seats, which are trimmed optionally with a combination of leather/artificial leather and Alcantara. The Alcantara surfaces on the instrument panel and on the door armrests are an entirely new option. They are available in two colours, including steel grey or a bold orange.


In the dark, the contour ambient LED lighting package – available as an optional extra or standard with the technology package – sets pinpoint lighting accents on the centre console and on the doors. It can be set to 30 colours and also illuminates the storage compartment under the instrument panel as well as the Audi logo above the glove compartment.

Other interior features include the standard two-zone air-conditioning, the panoramic glass sunroof or the flat-bottomed sports steering wheel.

The new Audi Q3 has grown and now is 4 484 millimetres long, making it 96 millimetres longer than its predecessor. In terms of width, it has grown 18 millimetres to 1 849 millimetres, but at 1 585 millimetres without the roof aerial, it is 5 millimetres flatter than the first-generation Q3. Its wheelbase has been stretched 77 millimetres to 2 680 millimetres.

Audi has done away with the analogue instruments. The digital instrument cluster with a 10,25 inch screen is standard equipment, which the driver operates using the multifunction steering wheel. Customers can also upgrade the instrument cluster to the Audi virtual cockpit with additional functions.

The standard MMI radio plus also includes an MMI touch display with 8,8 inch screen in the centre of the instrument panel. With the top-of-the-line equipment, MMI navigation plus, this touchscreen measures 10,1 inches.


In addition, the Audi Q3 with MMI navigation plus also comes with new natural-language voice control. It also understands freely structured wording. The ingenious dialogue manager asks questions if necessary, allows corrections, offers choices and defers to the speaker when interrupted.

 Locally, Audi South Africa is offering one engine version – a 1,4-litre petrol engine with front wheel driveoffering 110 kW and 250 Nm of torque from a four-cylinder direct injection unit with turbo-charging and driving through a six-speed S-tronic gearbox.

Audi South Africa has introduced a new package concept that will be adopted for all new models to be launched. The concept aims to reduce complexity when ordering a new vehicle, considering that a customer is generally faced with a long list of options to choose from.


It classifies key options according to a specific customer need and offers a straight-forward value proposition that is easy for a customer to understand. These packages have been defined by a combination of customer preferences as well as strategic options which aim to highlight Audi’s uniqueness or technology enhancements.

The packages include:

  • Comfort
  • Technology
  • Sport
  • Parking
  • S line interior
  • Black styling

Within each package structure ares a few options suited to the particular proposition. For example, the Comfort package includes storage and luggage; parking aid plus; electric tailgate; electric seats; seat heating and 4 way lumbar support.


The Audi Q3 range is priced as follows, along with the standard Audi Freeway plan (5 year / 100 000 km) and inclusive of all taxes:

  • Audi Q3 35 TFSI S tronic at R 565 000
  • Audi Q3 35 TFSI S tronic Advanced at R 585 000
  • Audi Q3 35 TFSI S tronic S line at R 599 000

Road Review – BMW X7 3.0d

When the first skteches of the BMW X7 leaked their way onto social media, it was obvious this was going to be a big, really big, car with the dominant focus on the massive kidney grille.

When the tarmac battleship arrived for testing it massive proportions dwarfed everything alongside it but, it is that word proportions that is important here – regular readers will recall I termed the X5 as being ‘fat’.

The X7, albeit bigger, has the proportions correct with length versus width and height executed in the right ratio to give it the sleek, streamlined look I found wanting on the X5 – the X7 5 151 mm long (4 922 for the X5) by 2 000 mm wide compared to 2 004 for the X5 and 1 805 mm tall (1 745 for the X5).


It is certainly built to test the absolute limits of those ridiculous underground parking bays in upmarket shopping centres.

The high-impact presence of the new BMW X7 is underscored by its upright front end, while the chrome elements that ring the car accentuate its character.

Together with the slim twin headlights extending up to the grille, it emphasises the width of the car and the X7 comes as standard with LED headlights, while BMW Laserlight with Adaptive LED Headlights can be specified as an option.


This system employs a BMW Laserlight spotlight with Selective Beam to optimise the high beam function, and as a result the range of the non-dazzling high beam has been increased to a maximum 600 metres.

The rear doors are longer than the front doors, making it easier to get in and out of a cabin space that would not go amiss in the first class section of an airliner – the individual rear seats each having its own screen and USB input ports, air-conditioning options and electronic range of movement.

The sizeable dimensions of the X7 are also expressed at the rear end, which is broken up by horizontal lines and bordered by vertical separating edges. The slim LED rear lights provide a clear segmentation of the rear. Bridging the space between the two units is a chrome bar – a design cue only previously encountered at the rear of the BMW 7 Series luxury sedan.


It is fitted as standard with 21-inch light-alloy wheels. The selection of light-alloy wheels available on the options list includes 22-inch variants.

The three rows of seats, like the grille is a love it or hate it kind of thing – although the rearmost seats can accommodate adult passengers, it leave precious little in the way of luggage space – 320 litres rising to 750 with those seats folded and 2 120 with the second row folded down.

The second row includes three seats as standard in a conventional rear seat bench configuration but, two comfortable individual seats can be specified for the middle row as an option – as was the case on my test unit.

These are comfort seats and offer the same functionality as the seats for the driver and front passenger when it comes to seating position adjustment. The individual seats for the second row also feature integrated armrests and comfort cushions.

The fore/aft position of the second-row seats is adjusted using a control panel integrated into the driver’s door. Drivers of the new BMW X7 can also slide both their own seat and the front-passenger’s backwards and forwards at the touch of a button located nearby. This allows the driver to increase both legroom and ease of entry/exit for the passengers in the second and third row of seats, as required.


X7 comes as standard with a sports leather steering wheel and the newly designed display grouping which comes as part of the standard-fitted BMW Live Cockpit Professional includes a Control Display and a fully-digital instrument cluster – each with a screen diagonal of 12,3 inches – and teams up with the control panel on the centre console to create a re-interpretation of BMW’s customary driver focus.

Standard specification includes four-zone automatic climate control. A five-zone automatic climate control system with separate control panel and additional air vents for the third row of seats can be ordered as an option. The likewise optional Ambient Air package enables air ionisation and infuses the interior with eight individually selectable scents.

A ‘thermo’ version of the cupholders arranged foremost in the centre console can be specified as an option to keep their containers cool or warm as required.


With its 10 speakers, the standard-fitted hi-fi speaker system already can make plenty of happy noise but the optional Harman Kardon surround sound system (standard in the X7 M50d) with 16 speakers provides an even more intense musical feast for the ears, topped only by the optional Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System with 20 speakers and 1 500-watt amplifier – when I listen to Judas Priest in my car so does the whole darn neighbourhood!

All the engines available for the new BMW X7 team up with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission, the most recent incarnation of which boasts a wider gear ratio spread and new control electronics. This reduces engine speeds, particularly in higher gears, which in turn helps to increase the drive system’s overall efficiency.

The eight-speed Steptronic transmission is fitted with a new generation of torsion dampers to limit rotational irregularities in the powertrain. The result is enhanced ride comfort and smoother gear changes. Comfort is given a further boost by reduced converter slip, while the optimised hydraulic control enables even sportier shifting.

There is 195 kW available at 4 00 r/min from the inline 2 993 cc turbo-diesel engine with 620 Nm of torque from 2 000 r/min – enough to propel the 6 720 kilogram behemoth to 100 km/h in 7,2 seconds and on to a terminal velocity of 227 km/h.

Fuel consumption during the test cycle averaged at 7,1 l/100 km giving the X7 a cruising range of about 1 000 kilometres, cruising being something it is particularly good at particularly if the plan to vist distance landscapes in utmost comofrt and with the minimum of fuss.

Although fairly unlikely for the majority of owners, the X7 has rather impressive off-road capabilities as well, this task being managed by the latest generation of the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which now varies how the drive torque is split between the front and rear wheels with greater precision.


The electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system links up with Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) to provide the basis for effortless, sure-footed handling, whatever the road and weather conditions. For added efficiency, full drive power can be directed to the rear wheels in situations where all-wheel drive is surplus to requirements. The xDrive system also maintains a rear-biased set-up when the car’s dynamic performance abilities are being put to the test, ensuring customers enjoy the signature BMW driving experience.

Ride comfort in the new BMW X7 is further enhanced by its two-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling, which is also included as standard. The suspension’s air supply is controlled individually for each wheel using a remarkably quiet, electrically driven compressor with pressure reservoir, making it possible to balance out an unevenly loaded car.

When SPORT driving mode is engaged or the car’s speed exceeds 138 km/h, the ride height is automatically lowered by 20 millimetres.

The driver is also able to adjust the body’s ground clearance – for off-road driving, for example – by pushing a button in the cockpit to raise it in two stages to a maximum 40 millimetres above the standard setting. Another button in the luggage compartment activates a loading mode that lowers the car by 40 millimetres.

The BMW X7 comes as standard with Cruise Control with braking function, as well as the Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function, which also now alerts the driver when a cyclist is detected.

The optional Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function is capable of braking the car to a halt then setting it back on its way automatically. To make the driver’s life easier in stop-start traffic, the maximum length of time the car can wait before pulling away again automatically after it has come to a halt is 30 seconds.

The speed limits detected by the Speed Limit Info traffic sign recognition system can be incorporated into the system’s automatic speed modulation, with a preset adjustment of up to 15 km/h.

The tech does not stop and the standard Driving Assist Professional offers extensive assistance to make driving as safe and as comfortable as possible. This package includes the Steering and lane control assist as well as the Lane Keeping Assist with active side collision protection.


The assistance systems also comprises Crossing traffic warning, which reduces the risk of a collision when manoeuvring forwards or in reverse towards crossing traffic where visibility is restricted. Rear Collision warning and Lane Change Warning also form part of the Driving Assist Professional package.

The level of techno features and the options are truly impressive and can take a while to learn, understand and get used to. Once mastered, they can make the driving experience a pleasurable one but one still has to wonder how much newer drivers miss out on by never having had to learn ‘seat of the pants’ motoring.

The X7 sweeps majectically through the countryside, that massive grille wide enough to swallow a small country whole, possibly aiding in having lesser automobiles move smartly out of the way once it appears in their rearview mirrors.

However, do not be surprised if you find them straddling two parking bays at the local mall….

Perfect vision

The Mercedes-Benz GLE has been updated with a number of new tech items along with a diesel engine ahead of the upcoming Euro VI emission standard.

The active suspension system E-Active Body Control on a 48-volt basis is a world first and the new driver assistance systems further increase the level of active safety, while the interior is even more spacious and comfortable, with a third seat row available on request.

Der neue Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018

“In 1997 Mercedes-Benz founded the premium SUV segment with the launch of the M-Class. Since then, more than 2-million customers have decided in favour of the off-roader worldwide. The GLE introduces the new control concept with innovative driving assistants, a new engine range and significantly more space. The new GLE is set to continue this success story throughout.” says Johannes Fritz, Co-CEO and Executive Director Mercedes-Benz Cars South Africa.

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE is the very first SUV anywhere to meet the coming Euro 6d standard. The OM 656 six-cylinder diesel engine comes with 243 kW and 700 Nm of torque in the GLE 400 d 4MATIC. Also available on market launch is the four-cylinder GLE 300 d 4MATIC with 180 kW and 500 Nm.

The first petrol model powered by a six-cylinder engine systematically electrified with 48-volt technology is the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4MATIC and it offers 270 kW and 500 Nm of torque, with a further 250 Nm of torque available via EQ Boost over short periods. The integrated starter/alternator (ISG) is responsible for hybrid functions such as EQ Boost or energy recuperation, while allowing fuel savings that were previously reserved for high-voltage hybrid technology.

The GLE is equipped with the latest generation of the multimedia system MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience. As standard it include a large screen Cockpit as 12.3-inch/31.2 cm screens arranged next to each other for a widescreen look.


The new, optional MBUX Interior Assist also allows intuitive, natural operation of different comfort and MBUX functions by movement recognition. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the touchpad on the centre console, the media display changes and individual elements are highlighted.

With its predictive functions, MBUX can anticipate the driver’s wishes – such as a regularly used navigation destination.

The new GLE has a considerably longer wheelbase than its predecessor, which has increased by 80 mm, so legroom in the second seat row has increased by 69 mm. Headroom in the rear with the standard, fixed rear seat unit and 40:20:40 backrest division has increased by 35 mm.

Der neue Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018

As an optional extra, a special second seat row with six fully electric adjustment options is available. The right and left seats can be separately adjusted fore-and-aft by up to 100 millimetres, the backrests are adjustable for angle and foldable in a 40:20:40 ratio, and the head restraints are adjustable for height. The backrest can also be completely folded down electrically.

As in the previous model, three child seats can be installed next to one another in the second seat row. The outer seats have ISOFIX fastening points.

The luggage capacity is up to 825 litres behind the rear seats, and up to 2 055 litres when the second seat row is folded down. A 72 mm increase in through-loading width allows bulky items to be stowed more easily.

Der neue Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018

“The GLE exhibits iconic Mercedes-Benz design while remaining true to its character as an off-roader,” says Selvin Govender, Marketing Director for Mercedes-Benz Cars South Africa. “With its design idiom it perfectly embodies our design philosophy of sensual purity, thus representing modern luxury. The interior derives its fascination from the contrast between the luxurious and elegant design and the digital high-tech of our MBUX system.”

The new GLE has a Cd figure from 0,29, the best in its segment. This is also a significant improvement over the preceding model (Cd 0,32). The good aerodynamic properties make a key contribution to low fuel consumption under everyday conditions.

 The new GLE sees the debut of the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems giving cooperative support to the driver.

When Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with route-based speed adaptation is active, the new GLE is able to respond to LiveTraffic info – ideally before the driver or the radar and camera sensors detect the hold-up or hazard. When a traffic jam is detected, the speed is reduced by way of precaution to 100 km/h, unless the driver specifically decides otherwise.

Der neue Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018

Once the tailback dissolves, the GLE accelerates back up to the set speed  and where traffic signs specify a different speed, Active Speed Limit Assist automatically selects the signposted speed limit.

 A totally new feature of Active Brake Assist in the Driving Assistance package is the turning-off function, which comes into play when the driver intends to turn off across the oncoming lane: in the event of a risk of collision with oncoming traffic, the GLE can carry out autonomous braking.

Energising seat kinetics is another new feature. This supports beneficial changes in seated posture by means of minute movements of the seat cushion and backrest when on a journey.

In all variants of the new GLE, power is transmitted by the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. With the four cylinder engines, 4MATIC all-wheel drive is realised with a transfer case which transmits the drive torque to the axles in a fixed ratio of 50:50 percent.

A transfer case with an electronically controlled multi-disc clutch is used in the GLE 450 or GLE 400d. This allows a variable transfer of drive torque from 0%-100% (torque on demand) between the axles. Also new, and available as an option, is a transfer case specially configured for superior off-road driving characteristics.

In addition to the controlled multi-disc clutch with torque-ondemand function, this has a reduction gear set and an automatic locking effect from 0–100 percent for off-road driving.

And, just when you thought tech had little wiggle room left – there is Magic Vision Control, which has undergone further development for the new GLE and saves up to 50% of washer fluid compared to a conventional system – while ensuring a perfect view to the front.


The intelligent system precisely meters the washer fluid according to the prevailing conditions, e.g. the ambient temperature and road speed. The warm washer fluid is distributed onto the windscreen along the entire length of the wiper blades by sophisticated channels and hoses, always on the side towards which the blade is currently moving. Accordingly the washing procedure can be fully automated according to the current conditions. Corresponding washer programmes are stored in the control unit of the wiper motor.

 The new GLE Models:

  GLE 300 d 4MATIC GLE 400 d 4MATIC GLE 450 4MATIC
Number of cylinders/arrangement 4/in-line 6/in-line 6/in-line
Displacement (cc) 1950 2925 2999
Rated output (kW) 180 243 270
at rpm 4200 3600-4000 5500-6100
Extra output from EQ Boost (kW/hp) 16/22
Rated torque (Nm) 500 700 500
at rpm 1600-2400 1200-3000 1600-4500
Add. torque from ECO Boost (Nm) 250
Fuel consumption combined  (l/100 km) 6.4-6.1 7,5-7,0 9.4-8.3
Combined CO2 emissions (g/km) 161-169 184-199 190-214
Emission class Euro 6d-TEMP Euro 6d Euro 6d-TEMP
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s) 7.2 5.8 5.7
Top speed (km/h) 225 240 250
Starting Retail Price R 1 210 500 R1 351 200 R1 329 400


Going for it

Book Review:  You Don’t Have To Be a Champion. . .To Be a Winner

Author: Brian Sims

When Brian Sims was appointed by Bobby Hartslief, who then owned Kyalami race track, as Manager in October 1980 general media reaction – myself included – was what on earth could a pale Pom who was a midfield Formula Ford runner have to qualify himself for the job.

Brian Sims

Within days of the announcement Autosport, for which I worked as South African correspondent, called me and asked for a feature article, prompting some rapid research into his background followed up by an interview for the story and the start of an association that continues today.

Sims has detailed his history in motor sport – and briefly rugby – in a book called ‘You Don’t Have To Be A Champion To Be A Winner’ and is an engaging story of his life as a procurer of sponsorship deals, ranging from funding his own racing to setting up Honda Racing (with Mike O’Sullivan in South Africa) to the glory heights of Formula 1 (Benetton), his involvement in CART racing and, probably, his greatest achievement in the establishment of the Motorsport Industry Association in the UK in 1994.

For local readers, the highlights of the book will certainly be the South African motor sport scene and history as observed through his eyes as Manager of Kyalami and in the selling role trying to raise sponsorships.


However, the whole story from fitting wheels to barrows in a builder’s yard to becoming a Xerox salesman and on to a career in motor sport, is a valuable insight into the world of creating opportunity and maximising those opportunities.

Sponsorship goes a long way beyond some company just handing our cash so someone else can go racing on the vague promise of them getting some publicity in return – it is a high-pressure and often complex negotiation that involves thorough research and planning to identify just how the sponsorship will work for the sponsor, and how the competitor intends to ensure that happens.

Sims tells all of the stories, the winners and losers, and does so in a frank light-hearted way that makes the book well worth reading. Without divulging all of his trade secrets he presents plenty of valuable information for anyone looking to entice a sponsor.