Super-powered line-up to hit our highways

Bobby Cheetham

MOTORISTS are in for an electrifying year ahead, with a range of vehicles to be launched and events taking place unlike anything seen or experienced before on the South African market.

For the first time a range of electric vehicles are set to make their appearance, which will mean new options for those who can afford the costly and dubious new technology.

And for those not into the bunny-hugging scene, the whiff of petrol and diesel will still hang thick in the ozone layer as more CO² is released from an ever-increasing vehicle parque using oil based products.

And shocking news is that the first letters of demand for e-toll money has already had many motorists throwing their toys out of the trolley, vowing to fight to the finish, what they term, is an unjust form of tax.

But, back to the future.

The new BMW i3 is scheduled to be introduced this year.

With its passenger cell made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) and BMW eDrive technology, it is designed to deliver zero-emission driving, the first series-produced model from the BMW i brand which, they say, heralds a new era in mobility.

Also from BMW will be the revolutionary BMW i8 electric/hybrid supercar, of which only 20 have been allocated to South Africa.

The i8 is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated new models and the launch is expected towards the end of the year.

Volkswagen may also enter the electric car fray with their eGolf. The global launch is planned this year.

The eGolf has a 85kW motor that drives the front wheels. The vehicle can reach 100km/h in 10.4 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 140km/h (87mph). The eGolf is equipped with a 24.2kWh battery pack, with energy consumption of 12.7kWh/100km and a range of 190km.

But, back to the oil burners.

There's a line-up of at least 40 new vehicles which will have petrolheads drooling over the vast array due to hit our shores.

The new BMW M4 and M3 will be here soon.

The Italians will be unveiling the stunning new Alfa Romeo 4C and the English will have the new Jaguar F-Type Coupe on dealers' floors this year.

The hot hatch segment will see the VW Golf R and Renault Clio RS.

Then the Kia Koup 1.6T and BMW 2 Series will have many champing at the bit to spend their moola on these cool-looking chariots.

Audi South Africa will launch the new Audi SQ5 TDI, the first S model in the history of Audi to boast a diesel engine. The S range of vehicles will also extend itself to the Audi A1 range, with the introduction of the Audi S1 in the second half of 2014.

The locally built bread-and-butter models for local assemblers will be the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, built in East London, and Toyota Corolla, which is built in Durban. Cars which will not break the budget include the Mitsubishi Mirage, Hyundai i10 Grand and the Datsun Go. The Go is expected to reach South African shores during the second half of the year.

That's if the budget hasn't been consumed by e-toll taxes!

The big news from Ford is that the Fusion, a replacement for the Mondeor, will be on sale soon.

General Motors will launch the new Chevrolet Sonic RS next month. On the Opel side the company is reviewing the Adam, a cute sexy looking model which, if introduced, will be a challenge for other manufacturers in this segment. Our sources tell us the Adam will be released towards the end of the year.

On the 4x4 and offroad front there are some exciting models on the horizon.

For those with loads of cash, Porsche will unleash their exciting Macan, probably one of the most eagerly awaited models from the company this year. Three models are available globally, the Mecan S, Diesel S and Turbo, but we will have to see which options will go on sale here.

Mercedes-Benz will have their GLA model on the roads with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, as well as a performance A45 AMG to blow your hair back, and the new C-Class which we mentioned earlier.

There will be updates to the Land Rover, Range Rover and Audi RSQ3 and SQ5 ranges next month. We should also see the new BMW X5 make its appearance with four models, the xDrive30d, xDrive40d, xDrive 50i and M50d.

Towards the end of the year the Infiniti QX80 will make its appearance and will be powered by a 5.6 litre motor.

Jeep will launch their new Cherokee, which will be available in 4x2 mode.

From Mitsubishi will come the new Outlander.

Nissan's Qashqai and X-Trails will also hit the tracks and roads in South Africa.

Suzuki will launch the SX-4, which is a tad bigger than the model it replaces.

Next month Peugeot will launch the 2008 with 1.6e-HDI and a 1.6 litre petrol model.

Getting back to the electric models, the distance they travel (or can't) is the major stumbling block preventing more sales.

However, Korean boffins claim to have invented a new battery which can be recharged in just 16 seconds!