Although December figures released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) offered a glimmer of hope for the motoring trade — with exports up by 36.3% and the sale of light commercial vehicles up by 3.2% compared with the same time last year — the overall aggregate annual sales of new vehicles was 29.1% down year on year.
While Naamsa expects the economy to bounce back in 2021, it may take many months, but more likely years, for the motoring industry to come close to reaching pre-Covid levels.
And although low interest rates and low inflation may stimulate the economy, threats of new Covid-19 variants, stricter lockdown measures, increased load shedding and widespread unemployment will most certainly impact on consumer confidence and spending power.
Here’s a look at the products planned for 2021 by local brands, listed alphabetically.
Alfa Romeo has been really quiet since the release of the magnificent Stelvio in early 2019. This year an updated Giulia will make its appearance in the first quarter. The 2.9-litre bi-turbo V6 firecracker offers 375kW and 600Nm, with power going to the rear wheels.
The new Stelvio Quadrifoglio arrives mid year, hurtling from 0-100km/h in under four seconds with power to all four wheels via its celebrated eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Audi South Africa is not messing around this year, with no fewer than an estimated 17 new or facelifted products expected to arrive on our shores — that’s if the virus doesn’t derail plans for the quattro-ringed German manufacturer.
New products include an all-new A3 model range, the RS4, RS6, RS7, RS Q3 and Q5 Sportback. My pick of the bunch on paper is the new RS Q8 — it’s touted to be the fastest gravel SUV ever, with insane power of 441kW/800Nm firing from its 4.0-litre bi-turbocharged engine, hurtling from 0-100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds. The powerhouse is expected to make an appearance in the first quarter.
BMW M3 and M4 fans are in for a double whammy with the projected arrival of coupé versions by the second quarter. Both brandish twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six engines, offering 353kW, while torque is 550Nm and 650Nm respectively.
Both have eight-speed M Steptronic transmissions. Other products from the Bavarian-based manufacturer include the hot hatch 128ti, the 4 Series Convertible and Gran Coupé. The one I am really looking forward to plugging in, is the iX3, a fully electric premium SUV inspired by the popular X3, which is expected to land year-end.
After a very quiet 2020, this year there will be plenty of action on the Fiat front with an estimated 10 products planned. The refreshed budget segment Tipo sedan and hatchback are expected in the first and second quarter to draw guns with the likes of the Ford Figo and VW Polo Vivo.
Other new products include the Fiat 500, 500X and 500 Cabriolet. On the commercial front, under the “Fiat Professional” tagline, expect the new spec handy urban caddy Fiorino and small van Doblo Cargo SX in the first quarter.
The Honda Jazz, celebrated for its reliability, has been a much loved local product since its launch in 2003. The new more snazzy Jazz with its 1.3-litre i-VTEC petrol engine is expected to arrive in the second quarter.
The speedy hot hatch Type R, with its magnificent sporty engine producing 228kW and 400Nm, will be back with a facelift by mid year while the trusty CR-V midsize SUV also undergoes a few cosmetic revisions.
There are no changes to the CR-V engine lineup which consists of the current naturally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine (113kW/189Nm) and the 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine (140kW and 240Nm).
Hyundai SA plans to have an exciting year, packed with mostly facelifted products including the upscaled i30N hot hatch and refreshed Santa Fe, both expected to arrive on local shores by mid year.
I am especially keen to get up close and personal with the all-new Tucson in the second half of 2021, with its cutting edge design inside and out.
Three engines are planned for this high-grade product in the family car segment: the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol, the 2.0-litre petrol and the 2.0-litre turbodiesel.
Being a bit of a Jag slag, I can’t wait to test drive both the 2021 E-PACE and F-PACE.
The compact SUV E-PACE’s 2021 engine lineup includes the new D200 147 kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo derivative, with its nine-speed automatic transmission.
The updated F-PACE will have five engines on offer, including two diesels: the 147kW, four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine and more powerful 6-cylinder, 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine, producing 221kW.
The Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) F-PACE marries a 297kW 640Nm 2.0-litre engine with a 76kW electric motor and 13.6kWh lithium-ion battery.
The popular Jaguar XF sedan will also receive an uprated diesel engine before mid year, while the award-winning all-electric I-PACE will be treated to new tech and charging capabilities.
The much-loved-by-locals South Korean brand that recently underwent a global rebranding has at this stage four new products planned for 2021.
First up is their volume selling budget segment Picanto which undergoes a facelift. By mid year we should see the brand new compact crossover Sonet which shares a platform with the Hyundai Venue, but looks all Kia in design, especially with that distinctive “Tiger Nose” grille.
If all goes as planned, watch out for the new Sorento and Carnival (Grand Sedona), also known within the Kia stable as a Grand Utility Vehicle, by the end of the second quarter.
My 2020 Car of the Year was the all-new Land Rover Defender 110.
I am as excited to get up close and personal with the short wheelbase 90 that’s expected to land by mid year. The model line up will include the diesel D240 (177kW) and two petrol derivatives — the P300 (221kW) and top of the range P 400 (294kW).
It’s clear that Jaguar Land Rover’s global strategy incorporates Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle tech as the Defender 110 range will also be bolstered by the introduction of a plug-in hybrid PHEV, while not ignoring the traditional fossil fuels by way of a more powerful 3.0 diesel.
Hybrid tech derivatives will also be introduced in the Discovery Sport PHEV, the Evoque PHEV and Velar PHEV, which are all expected to be launched on local shores by mid year as an ode to progress and clean fuel technology.
And finally, the mighty Range Rover 50th edition, marking five decades since its launch in June 1970, will remind us that V8 power is still something to celebrate.
One of my favourite luxury brands due to its eye for quality and fine details, we can expect three new spindle branded products this year by way of the Lexus IS, the premium sedan LS and the LC 500 Convertible.
Powered by a 5-litre normally aspirated V8 engine (351kW/540Nm) via a 10-speed automatic transmission. I am of opinion that the LC Convertible has got to be one of the most beautiful open tops ever designed.
For those who still have a penchant for premium sedan luxury, the new S-Class will land by mid year.
While there will be a range of hybridised powertrains with 48-volt technology, the S580 will definitely appeal to the petrol power lovers with its twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine, producing 350kW and 700Nm.
Although Mercedes-Benz SA has not been able to share dates yet, we do know that there is an E-Class facelift, the new AMG GLE 53 and 63 S, the AMG GLS 63 and the incredibly sexy 537kW AMG GT-Black Series to look forward to.
The GT is the most powerful V8 that Mercedes-Benz has produced in a road car.
Mitsubishi will be relatively quiet in 2021, but should cause some waves with the launch of the Xpander Cross 7-seater by mid year, targeted at customers who need passenger space while seeking affordable transport.
In the same segment as the Honda BR-V and Toyota Avanza, the practical Xpander will be powered by a 1.5-litre engine with 77kW and 141Nm, available in both auto and manual. There is also a fair chance that the updated Eclipse Cross may reach our shores before year end.
After a quiet 2020, Nissan SA plans to make a noise with the arrival of the new X-Terra seven-seater SUV in the last quarter of 2021.
The X-Terra relies on a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, producing 123kW and 241Nm, underpinned by a seven-speed auto transmission. It’s in the same popular SUV segment as the Ford Everest, Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
The new Magnite, described by Nissan as a “compact family car”, will be launched in the first quarter. We should see a Navara facelift by mid year as well as the launch of the all-new popular compact SUV, the Qashqai, before we bid farewell to 2021.
The arrival of the much-awaited new Peugeot 2008 compact SUV and cute 208 hatchback should take place in the next few weeks.
Oozing French style, expect a choice of petrol and diesel options and manual and auto transmissions in the 2008. Hopefully, we will get the 115kW flagship in the range.
In the second quarter we should see both a 3008 and 5008 facelift as well as the debut of the one-ton Landtrek single and double cab which I am particularly excited about. A French bakkie. Who would have imagined?
Staying with the French, Renault SA plans to titillate with an all-new fifth-generation Clio hatchback by July. Although details of engines are not yet available, I’m hoping we’ll get the range-topping 1.3-litre turbo-petrol (95kW and 260Nm) with its seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.
There’s an all-new Kiger earmarked for the third quarter which will join Renault’s popular SUV family with its 210mm ground clearance. Possibly Renault’s most successful SUV on local soil, the Duster Ph2 should arrive before year end as well as an all-new classy Captur.
For the few who still have endless amounts of cash on hand, the opulent Rolls-Royce Ghost may be an option.
Earmarked to land in the next month or two, with exceptional levels of luxury, the new Ghost is a 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 producing awe-inspiring figures of 420kW of power and 850Nm of torque. Dream on, honey.
Suzuki’s local success should be tweaked with the launch of the new Vitara Brezza sometime in the first half of 2021.
The compact SUV is in direct competition with the Hyundai Venue, the not-yet-launched Nissan Magnite and soon-to-be-released Kia Sonet. It’s slightly shorter than the straight Vitara, powered by a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine (77kW/138Nm) and relies on a five-speed manual transmission.
Petrolheads are in for a speed treat with the launch of the much anticipated Toyota GR Yaris. (Gazoo Racing refers to the Japanese manufacturer’s rally heritage.) The little spitfire reaches speed via its three-cylinder 1.6-litre turbocharged engine (192kW/360Nm).
There will also be a limited edition derivative up for grabs with increased power and torque of 200kW and 370Nm.
Toyota has managed to stay on top during the pandemic and should seal their dominance in 2021 with the launch of the Corolla Sedan Hybrid, the RAV4 Hybrid, a spec changed C-HR and Urban Cruiser — all expected to launch in the first quarter.
By mid year, the Land Cruiser 300 should reach our shores and towards the end of the year, the GR86 is planning a speed assault.
I’ve been hyperventilating for the arrival of the new Golf 8 GTI which is expected to land before mid year in South Africa.
There’s even more to look forward to when the R version arrives in the fourth quarter. Powered by a 235kW/420Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, hurtling from 0-100km/h in just 4.7 seconds, the Golf 8 R is officially the most powerful Golf to date.
The top-selling passenger car manufacturer in SA will also launch a Tiguan facelift, the new Kombi T6.1 and the Crafter Auto & 4MOTION in the second quarter, while the wonderfully practical Caddy 5 should land by year-end. DM
Prices for all vehicles will be available closer to launch dates.
Saddam Hussein authored a best-selling romance novel. "Sabibah and the King" also spawned a 20-part series.
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