By: Denis Droppa
Following a busy period of new-model launches in South Africa last year, 2015 shows no sign of slowing down with many all-new vehicles and upgrades headed our way. Here are some of the highlights:
Well-heeled high-performance enthusiasts have several pulse-quickening cars to look forward to, including the new two-seater Mercedes-AMG GT which arrives in May to replace the SLS. In March the much-awaited C63 AMG will make its local debut, and competing with it for the attention of hot-blooded petrolheads will be the high-performance Lexus RCF, flagship of the new RC coupé range arriving later this year.
Another notable sports car headed here around November is Ford’s Mustang, now that the iconic American muscle car is available for the first time in right-hand drive. Also on the possible radar for 2015 is Porsche’s venomous 911 GT3 RS.
Honda’s Civic Type-R will give boy-racers something to get excited about when it lands in the third quarter of this year sporting a powerful new turbo engine, while Mini’s rapid John Cooper Works, Audi’s hot RS3 and third-generation TT are also on the 2015 launch list. Mazda’s MX5 and the Spider version of Alfa’s stunning 4C give convertible fans something to look forward to.
At the more modestly powered and priced end of the market, several new affordable small-car ranges are headed our way, starting with the A-segment Suzuki Celerio hatch later this month to replace the Alto. It will be followed in February by VW’s new Up! three-door hatch, a small car with big ambitions because it’s expected to be priced below the Polo Vivo and therefore a potential sales chart topper.
Other upcoming city cars are the new Toyota Aygo arriving around mid-year, and a safety-upgraded Datsun Go (with ABS and airbags) which should land in the second half. Daimler’s Smart Fortwo city car gets here in December followed by the Forfour a few months later.
Moving up to slightly bigger hatchbacks, Opel’s Adam has just landed in SA to compete with the likes of the Fiat 500 (look out for our Adam road test next week), and Honda’s new Jazz arrives later this month. Other cars competing in the same segment will be the new Hyundai i20, Opel Corsa, and Mazda2 – all arriving in the first quarter of the year.
Ford’s Fusion, the replacement for the mid-sized Mondeo (remember that from about a decade ago?) arrives in local showrooms in the next couple of months, to be followed by the new Volkswagen Passat around mid-year.
Towards the end of the year Jaguar’s XE sedan heads here to take on the likes of the BMW 3 Series.
The facelifted VW Jetta has just hit town.
The swoopy coupé version of the Mercedes S-Class will be in local showrooms by the end of this month, featuring a Curve Tilt function that leans the car’s body into a bend – much like a biker or skier would – to reduce lateral forces on the driver and passengers.
Buyers seeking big cabin space and a generous ride height will have lots to choose from this year. BMW’s second-generation X6, the Land Rover Discovery Sport (which replaces the Freelander), the new Kia Sorento, the retro-styled Jeep Renegade, the Subaru Outback, the X3-rivalling new Lexus NX, and the new Infiniti QX80 will all cruise in during the first half of the year.
For those seeking something more rugged, the Fortuner-rivalling Ford Everest arrives in the second half of the year.
Also in the second half, Ford's popular Ranger gets a major makeover inspired by that aforementioned new Everest SUV.
With Toyota’s new Hilux only arriving in 2016, there isn’t much other news on the bakkie front in 2015, except for some upgrades to Isuzu’s KB range. GWM’s Steed 6 range has just been unveiled alongside the older Steed 5 which continues as a more value-based workhorse, while plugging the gap is the more leisure-oriented Steed 5E.
THE GREEN BRIGADE
BMW’s electrically-powered i3 hatch will be launched in the next couple of months to take on the Nissan Leaf in the Eskom-powered market segment, while the BMW i8 two-seater coupé arrives at the same time as a flamboyantly-styled, 250km/h exponent of petrol-electric propulsion.