By BRENWIN NAIDU
ATTENDING a motoring event where there is an abundance of cars on display is, for a petrolhead, akin to being in a candy store. Anyone who’s attended some of those informal show ‘n shines will know what I’m talking about – one gazes at the dazzling array of cars being shown-off by doting owners, and dreams up an entire fantasy garage – if money were no object, and said owners would easily part with their beloved motors. And then there’s the vibe: a palpable sense of excitement lingers in the air, socialising with fellow car lovers and simply sharing the enthusiasm for all things automotive.
Things are taken to another level when there’s a major motor event in town – it’s like christmas. Car nuts like myself are going to take delight in the Johannesburg International Motor Show, revving its engine and getting ready to screech off the line in October. Having previously attended JIMS, I can assure that it’s quite an event – with the enticing, high-performance models, the quirky concepts and the simpler, everyday products within the realm of ownership all on display, ready to be admired, sat in and pose for photos.
One car set to feature at the show that most South Africans are not likely to see often, is the Audi R8 GT. There were 333 units of the car made, and the seven that were allocated to our market have all been accounted for – going to their lucky owners for the princely sum of R2 620 000. The light-weight, limited edition R8 GT will grace the Audi display stand. One can pray and hope for a brief spin in such a beast: it produces 412 kilowatts and promises to rocket from 0 to 100km/h in a very brisk 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 320 km/h.
But those who are not enamoured with excessive speed need not worry. If you’re more inclined toward the technological aspect of things, there will be plenty to see. Nissan’s fully electric LEAF will be on display, whetting the public’s appetite, as an example of the electric vehicles we could expect to start driving soon. LEAF has a top speed of 145km/h and produces 80 kilowatts and 280 Newton metres of torque. It’s green in the sense that it’s an electric vehicle, but it’s also likely that it turned competitors green with envy – driving away with the title of 2011 World Car of the Year.
Another particularly special green vehicle to make an appearance at JIMS is the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics concept vehicle. It’s set to star alongside Tom Cruise in the next Mission Impossible film. BMW will also be displaying their new M5, new 1-Series as well as bringing over MINI models like the Paceman Concept – a MINI Sports Activity Vehicle. Honda will also be making strides at the show, with their ASIMO humanoid robot. ASIMO, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovation Mobility, is able to walk, run, push trolleys and even talk.
Something I’m looking forward to – and I’m sure many classic car enthusiasts are too – is the return of the British MG brand. The marque is set to make a comeback in South Africa, and according to a press release, will use JIMS as a launch pad. The first model that can be expected, is the MG6, featuring a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine and three specification levels: Standard, Comfort and Deluxe.
This year’s Johannesburg International Motor Show seems set to be a stunning festival of all things automotive. I certainly hope to spend a great deal of time among the exciting machinery on display.