May has proven to be the month where we saw a significant number of car launches and car releases from various manufacturers. The automotive industry is becoming more and more interesting in terms of advanced technologies in cars and new car manufacturers entering the market. May marked the climax of the second quarter of 2019 whereby car makers took a shot at unveiling or adding models on their line-up to keep their customers happy and committed to their brand. Here is our top 10 favorite car launches and unveilings of May.
- Opel Astra 1.6 T OPC-Line
This is not exactly a car launch nor a car unveiling, it’s just an addition of a trim level to the Astra line-up. The OPC-Line comes with a revised, mild sporty body kit for a more grunt appeal and a 6-speed automatic transmission. I’m sure you are thinking, “big deal, it’s just an auto gearbox added…nothing special”, the thing is the 1.6 T Sport Plus is very excellent but it only came with a manual transmission whereas its competitors had autos in their ranging topping specs.
The 147 kW 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder needed an auto as many customers requested for it. Now that it’s here, it can properly take on its rivals such as the DSG VW Golf 7.5, new Ford Focus, Kia Cerato and Mazda 3. But then this OPC-Line might be a disguised teaser for the return of the hot hatch Astra OPC. Would really love to see it again and Opel should consider a four-door version also.
- BMW X1 Facelift
Our favorite small German SUV just got a mild makeover and we are glad it’s prettier than before. The X1 just got a revised bumper, a slightly larger joint kidney grille, and some new side skirts. The small SUV has a new LED headlight design as well as new L-shaped taillights which we are seeing on new BMW models.
There is a new plug-in hybrid engine added to the X1 line-up. The xDrive25e has a petrol engine with 123 hp plus an electric motor which has 94 hp bringing it up to 217 hp (162 kW). This will improve performance and fuel efficiency while bringing gas emissions down. The plug-in hybrid model can do 50 km alone on electric power. There is also an option of an 8.8-inch iDrive touchscreen you can add.
- Opel e-Corsa
Opel has decided to give the Corsa a new makeover and adding a fully electric model to the line-up. I am very impressed with the new look. It is not too complicated or too basic, it’s just right. More car manufacturers are introducing fully electric cars on a high margin but Opel decided to start with the mid-range hatchback which makes it a fantastic decision. Some changes from the outgoing model are all-new bodywork and new light design. The interior receives a gear lever design similar to those in Peugeot cars, a redesigned 7-inch touchscreen, and a digital instrument cluster. It’s minimal but futuristic design.
The e-Corsa has a 50 kWh lithium-ion battery which makes up a power output of 134 hp (100 kW) and 220 Nm of torque. It has a range of just 330 km on a single charge and can do 0-100 km/h in just 8.1 seconds which is impressive. The battery can charge up to 80% in just 30 minutes when using the fast charging outlets. There is a myOpel App which you can use to check the battery status if you can’t be bothered to enter the car just to check. I’m really interested in PHEV cars and fully electric cars and I see them as the future of motoring.
- Toyota Supra
Automotive journalists got to sample the new Toyota Supra several weeks ago and were all a bit bothered by the fact that it’s basically a BMW underneath. Yeah sure, but it’s not like Toyota made a mistake by turning to BMW to help them make a sports car. BMW has a strong heritage of making the best-performing cars to ever exist. The new Supra was anticipated by many fans and those fans became disappointed when they heard it will have a BMW engine instead of the mighty 2JZ engine but we all saw that coming.
The Supra looks very good and the rear design is what really makes it stand out. So it is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged six-cylinder also found in the BMW Z4 M40i but the Supra produces 335 hp (250 kW), which is less than the BMW Z4, how odd. It only comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission courtesy of BMW and helps propel the car from 0-100 km/h in just 4.1 seconds and has a limited top speed of 250 km/h. Just to clarify, the Supra has a BMW engine, BMW infotainment screen, BMW gearbox, BMW steering wheel, BMW turn signal lever, and BMW light switch buttons. But it has some unique characteristics of its own. When it goes on sale, it might cost around R750 000.
- Audi A4 Facelift
The best selling Audi model has been revised for the 2019 year model and what an improvement it has received. With the new BMW 3 series launched and the C-Class gaining a facelift, the Audi A4 was starting to become a bit old so Audi had to change some few features to keep up with the competition. The new Audi A4 is 5 mm wider and 22 mm longer than the pre-lift which adds a bit of interior space. There are three new 2.0-liter petrol engines with a mild hybrid system added to them. There is a 35 TSFI with 148 hp (110 kW), a 40 TSFI with 187 hp (138 kW) and a 45 TSFI with 242 hp (179 kW).
Audi is just obsessed with their diesel engines that they added a slightly larger hybrid system to boost power and fuel efficiency. There is a 2.0 liter TDI with 187 hp (138 kW) diesel engine and a 3.0 liter TDI with 228 hp (168 kW) diesel engine on offer. The range-topping S4 gets a 3.0 liter 6-cylinder TDI engine with 342 hp (252 kW) and 700 Nm of torque. The A4 received a significant change in interior styling with the Virtual Cockpit improved and a new Audi MMI infotainment system which is now a touchscreen. Prices are expected to start from R510 000 and we shall expect the new A4 to launch in SA later this year.
- Ford Ranger Raptor
The wild beast from Ford Performance finally went on sale earlier in May and the launch was pretty extreme. SA automotive journalists did not hesitate to put the bakkie in some extreme driving conditions. Of course, that’s what it was made for. The Ford Ranger Raptor is built locally and that makes it a very special national treasure. It is powered by a 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged diesel engine with 210 hp (157 kW) and 500 Nm of torque.
It has a feature called Baja Mode, what that does is put the Ranger Raptor into full capability mode which can tackle any off-road obstacle at a fast pace. The Ranger Raptor is 168 mm wider and 50 mm taller than the standard Ford Ranger due to its bulky body kit. It comes with Ford’s SYNC3 enabled with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The seats are designed to hold you in place on a rough ride and have the Raptor emblem printed on them. The Ford Ranger Raptor starts at R786 400. No more fake Raptors for SA, we have our own now.
- BMW 1 series
This one caused a lot of stir on social media when it was unveiled. People criticized its looks saying it looks similar to the previous generation Mercedes Benz A-Class. I won’t lie but this looks exactly like the 2 Series Active Tourer. But I’m not saying that it’s ugly, I actually like the look of the new 1 series. It’s in the same situation as the X7 was because we were all saying that it was ugly until we saw it in the metal and we quickly changed own minds. The biggest change on the 1 series is that it’s now front-wheel drive. The advantage is it creates more interior space and improves fuel efficiency.
It shares its platform with the Mini Countryman and 2 Series Active Tourer. On launch, we will see the 118i which has 1.5 liter 3-cylinder turbo petrol with 140 hp (103 kW) and 220 Nm of torque. The hardcore M135i xDrive will also be available at launch with a 2.0 liter twin-turbocharged 4-cylinder with 306 hp (225 kW) and 450 Nm of torque. The 1 series will be available with a manual and automatic gearbox. It will have a 9-inch screen iDrive System and an optional 10-inch which comes with BMW’s A.I. Voice control system and a digital instrument cluster.
- Ferrari SF90 Stradale
The new Ferrari PHEV supercar has just been unveiled and it looks rather odd but then as flamboyant as it comes, the looks are fantastic. This is to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Ferrari F1 Team. The SF90 Stradale nameplate has a meaning to it, the SF stands for Scuderia Ferrari, the 90 is the 90th anniversary and the Italian word Stradale stands for Road. This Ferrari has a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine and has 3 electric motors which boost the total power output to 1000 hp (735 kW), making it Ferrari’s fastest production car.
The Ferrari SF90 Stradale has a 7.9 kWh lithium-ion battery for regenerative braking and can do 26 km alone on electric power only. It comes equipped with a new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission which 10kg lighter and 30% faster. The car can do 0-100 km/h in just 2.5 seconds and has a top speed of 340 km/h. The interior is all nice with a typical Ferrari steering wheel and an all-new 16-inch curved display instrument cluster. This can surely take on the likes of the Bugatti Chiron on a track day.
- BMW M8
This was technically revealed in June but we had to put the most anticipated car on the list. The new M flagship model arrived and we can most certainly say that we are not disappointed at all. Unique design features include a more aggressive front bumper, special M competition 20-inch wheels, quad exhaust pipes and a carbon fiber roof for improved downforce. The M8 is powered by a 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 also found in the current M5 F90 and it produces 600 hp (441 kW) and 750 Nm of torque whilst the Competition Pack has 625 hp (460 kW) and 750 Nm of torque. The top speed is limited to 250 km/h but can be increased with the optional M driver’s package to 305 km/h.
The new M8 has an 8-speed Steptronic transmission. It is available in a coupe and convertible body styles. The M8 coupe and convertible can sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 3.3 and 3.4 seconds respectively. The M8 competition pack coupe and convertible can do it in 3.2 seconds and 3.3 seconds. Like the BMW M5, the M8 comes with the M xDrive which can configure 4WD mode or 2WD mode at will. The M8 has an M mode with three driving settings: road, sport, and track. As a grand tourer, it supposed to be as comfortable and sporty as possible and that won’t just be an exception. The interior gets some unique M features like M instrument cluster and M gear lever. The M8 will surely compete against the Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB11 quite nicely.
- McLaren GT
And at our top list is the McLaren GT reason being that we feel this will be the ultimate GT car of the century. This uses the same engine from the 720S, a 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8 that produces 612 hp (456 kW) and 630 Nm of torque. The car can sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 3.1 seconds and has a top speed of just 326 km/h. The McLaren GT is all about comfort, speed, and style but mostly the comfort the driver will endure.
It has two trunks, the front, and the back. The front one, also known as the frunk, has a 150 liters boot capacity and the actual trunk has a boot capacity of 420 liters, which is fairly enough for your golf clubs to fit in. The car looks so gorgeous, the front mimics the 675 LT and it’s just longer than most McLaren models for that increased interior space. The interior gets nice upholstery leather and Alcantara finish with some nice gadgets. Not many details have been released about the McLaren GT but it sure looks impressive. The Ferrari 812 Superfast should watch out because this will dominate the segment and take it to higher heights.