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Superstars aplenty at Frankfurt show


THIS year’s Frankfurt Motor Show - the 65th in the history of the Internationale Automobilausstellung - was, as usual, a great success with thousands of motoring journalists from all parts of the globe converging on this hub of the German economy.

The star of the show was Porsche’s debut of its sensational 918 Spyder, an R11.69 million supercar that will only be available in left-hand-drive, which denies South Africa the delicious possibility on seeing this vehicle on our roads.

Designed from the start to be a high-performance hybrid, the 918 Spyder boasts an unprecedented combination of direct fuel-injected turbopower driving the rear wheels and electric motors for the front wheels. This combination offers an astounding 652kW and a 0-100km/h figure of 2.8 seconds while consuming an even more incredible 3.4 litres/100km when driven normally.

Although not using the show as the launch pad for its excellent little i10, Hyundai Europe rather cheekily launched this soon-to-be-seen-here newcomer at its headquarters in Offenbach the day before the show itself started. With prices to be announced in due course, it’s believed that the ‘new’ i10 will be marketed in our country as the ‘Grand i10’ - with the current model being used as the company’s entry-level model.

Meanwhile, the Lexus LF-NX Concept astonished the crowds with its bold, razor-sharp styling while still retaining the traditional Lexus spindle grille, albeit in a radically enhanced form. This dramatic new crossover will certainly not be brought to market in its current form, but should eventually reach our shores in a significantly more refined format.

Kia’s presence was quite dramatic at this year’s show, showing several new models and concept vehicles. South Africans will be particularly pleased that there’s a new Soul on the way. Joining the Soul on the Kia stand was a fresh upgrade of the Optima as well as a dramatic new concept - the radical Niro. This possible future B-segment contender may not reach our shores, but is still representative of Kia’s radical styling advances in recent times.

Another South African favourite brand, Honda participated with the ‘world premiere’ of the Civic Tourer. Claimed to have the biggest luggage space in its class (624 litres), the Tourer is sure to be a hit in the European market, one which South Africans, for some unknown reason, are unwilling to invest in. Instead, local car buyers will keep their fingers crossed that Honda’s NSX will be made available in a right-hand-drive version.

Showing steady growth in South Africa under the competent guiding hand of Associated Motor Holdings, Mitsubishi also impressed with the world’s first plug-in hybrid with all-wheel-drive. With a sensational claimed fuel-consumption figure of a mere 1.9 litres/100 km, Mitsubishi seems to be on the right track - successfully combining conventional internal combustion with plug-in hybrid technology.

Volkswagen stunned the world with the debut of the e-version of the world’s most successful car - the Golf. This best-seller (over 30 million units sold) delivers zero tailpipe emissions and is said to have a range of 190km per charge. ‘Consumption’ is measured at 12.7 kWh/100km and all-LED headlights one standard.
Set to hit the roads - and perhaps also our highways - the e-Golf is due in Europe in our autumn of 2014. Energy costs have been estimated at R42,64/100km based on a Rand/Euro exchange rate of 13. Currently, our diesel costs around R13/litre and vehicles in this class usually average 6.0 litres/100km, translating to a cost of some R78.

These figures would seem to indicate that the e-automotive industry still has some way to go before public perceptions are changed, especially given the initial purchase price of these electronic wunderkinder.

Written by Bernie Hellberg 

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