ull throttle show that leads in with a positive economic ray of light from Toyota that invests into its new production plant in Prospecton, Durban, South Africa where the 11th generation Corolla will be produced for local and export purposes.
· Total investment in region of R1 billion. This follows an R8 billion investment in 2008
· Toyota currently produces 220 000 units per year, the Hilux bakkie forming a bulk of those sales. Corolla forms about 30 000 units with the new model
· Corolla has been produced along the Prospecton production line since 1972. More than a million produced at this plant in 40 years.
· New Corolla launches in Cape Town later this week.
ROAD: Thegandra Naidoo in conversation with e-biz-radio
Podcast | Click HERE to listen
Road Test: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
Anyone can buy AMG wheels these days, a fair few come with similar body kits and you can’t hear yourself think as the non-standard exhaust systems drone around the neighbourhood on a Saturday night. What you don’t usually get on those fakers is a small pointer to the fact that you’re about to get your automotive butt kicked.
This says E63 AMG on the back of this Merc. This is the real deal and will make you want to stand well back. The latest derivative – a facelifted model – features a forced-induced 5.5L, V8 that has been rammed into the nose of the current E-class. The twin-turbo V8 is coupled to a MCT 7-speed gearbox which channels all of its 410kW and 720Nm of torque through the rear wheels – just enough to give bragging rights over the current BMW M5, at which the baddest E is squarely aimed.
The MCT (Multi-clutch technology) gearbox is essentially the 7G-Tronic automatic transmission without a torque converter. Rather, it uses a compact wet startup clutch to launch the car from standstill, and also supports computer-controlled double declutching. The E63 is also fitted with the AMG DRIVE UNIT with innovative Race Start function – a launch control system which enables the driver to call on maximum acceleration, while providing optimum traction to the rear wheels.
It’s not exactly shy when it comes to making those figures count either. The E63 sprints from 0-100kph in 4.2 seconds, while an electronic buffer restricts the top speed to 250kph. Performance enthusiasts can also opt for the optional AMG S package which increases the power figures to 430kW and 800Nm, and improves the 0-100kph time by 0.1 sec.
So you’d think this big hitter would be worth shouting about then? Nope. Discreet is the name of the game here. On the inside, it’s typically Mercedes-Benz with quality choice of leather and wood inlays, acres of interior space and loaded with creature comforts – although, there’s very little to match its ballistic performance prowess.
There’s nothing too lairy externally – 19″ wheels, lip spoiler, a small bit of body tweakery, twin exhausts and big composite brakes. Just the muted bellow to give things away and sometimes that’s more of a gentle thrum. Brilliant. But it isn’t. Quite.
For me, it’s just a little too discreet. I want more drama from an engine so beefy. And there are a few things that knock the gleam off the impressive spec list. The steering, despite having more feeling than ever in a big Merc, is still as tactile as glue. The big, shiny override paddles behind the wheel may look sporty and enticing, but the MCT transmission still takes its own time to react, so you end up trusting the auto to do its thing and not bothering to flex your indexes.
Good stuff? In manual mode, the paddles will now hold a gear to the rev-limiter, so no changing up mid-way round a corner. And, if you have a sizeable budget to replace your tyres, you can switch off the traction control and roast ludicrous burnouts from 2 500rpm.
So the E63 is a mixed bag. A much better performance saloon than its predecessors, but not quite the car that makes people not want a BMW M5 – the final nail in the coffin being a rather hefty R1 275 000 price tag. The E63 AMG, however, does come standard with a 6-year/100 000km maintenance plan
Bridgestone has emphasised the need for adequate tread depth to help motorists avoid aquaplaning. The tyre maker was responding to rainy episodes in Gauteng which led to a spate of crashes in January.
“A tyre needs a firm grip on the road surface to ensure proper control,” said Bridgestone Promotions Manager, Jan Maritz. “Most drivers associate loss of traction with situations like skidding which is frequently caused by abrupt steering or excessive speed when cornering. But loss of traction can also be caused when a tyre encounters more water than it can clear away,” he added.
Loss of traction caused by water on the road surface is known as aquaplaning. At 120 kph on a road covered with a film of just one millimetre of water, the front tyres of a typical small sedan each need to clear away six litres of water per second. During a heavy downpour where standing water may be a centimetre deep, each tyre needs to clear away 60 litres of water per second at 120kph. This is equivalent to dispersing a bathtub of water every three seconds.
Tyres disperse water by channelling it between the gaps and grooves in the tread and mopping up excess water with small slits in the tread blocks called sipes. However, if the speed is too high or there is too much water on the road, the tyre’s ability to disperse water becomes overwhelmed and it lifts off the road surface to skim along the surface of the water. This is aquaplaning, and as any driver who has experienced it can attest, it can make it impossible to brake, steer or accelerate.
Aquaplaning only ceases when the water depth drops below the critical limit or the vehicle’s speed slows enough for the tyre to regain contact. Many vehicles which experience aquaplaning crash before control is regained, so it’s important to prevent aquaplaning by reducing speed on wet roads and adjusting position in your lane to avoid deep standing water if possible.
“A major contributor to aquaplaning is insufficient tread depth,” Maritz explained. “Even if you’ve reduced speed on a wet road, a tyre with only a couple of millimetres of tread depth remaining might not be able to clear away enough water to prevent aquaplaning,” he said. “The legal limit is 1.6mm remaining, but anything below three millimetres is really not enough to cope with a severe rainstorm, even at reduced speeds,” he added.
He advised motorists who were concerned about their tread depths to visit a fitment centre to have them checked. “Fitment centres have tread depth gauges to check how much remaining tread your tyres have, and also to ensure that treadwear is even across the tyre surface,” he explained. “A quick five-minute check could be the difference between safe control and aquaplaning when you next encounter rainy weather,” he concluded.
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