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SEE: Here are some of the cars we won't be seeing on SA roads this year (but that we really wish we would)

2019-01-10 06:00

Lance Branquinho

Mercedes-Benz-E53_AMG_Estate

Image: Supplied

It will be another bumper year of bakkies and SUVs for the local market, with customers spoiled for choice.

But amongst all the anticipation for what will be shipped-in or built here, there are a few fantastic cars and SUV which South Africans automotive enthusiasts will still have to do without.

READ: Here are 7 exciting new Mercedes-Benz vehicles headed for South Africa in 2019

Here are five of the vehicles you’ll wish you could buy locally in 2019, but can’t. 

Infiniti QX50

Nissan’s premium brand has quietly suspended its local ambitions, which is a great pity as its latest QX50 SUV shows immense promise. Beyond the striking design, this Infiniti debuts some very ingenious internal combustion engine technology. 

The 2-litre four-cylinder engine features VC-T (variable-compression turbo) componentry, which can alter the compression ratio on demand.

Infiniti-QX50

                                                                       Image: Net Car Show

Variable valve timing and camshaft phasing were breakthrough technologies in the late 1990s and early 2000s, enabling engines to be both lighter on fuel and responsive.

Infiniti’s variable compression engineering innovation promises similar advancement, providing on-demand surges without sacrificing overall fuel economy. With Infinity not longer trading locally, we won’t get to experience these VC-T engines just quite yet. 

Honda Passport

Imagine Honda’s build quality, clever cabin ergonomics and renowned engine technology in a significantly scaled-up SUV form. That’s the Passport. By South Africans standards it would qualify as a large SUV and imposing styling aside, it’s a compelling technology package. 

Powered by a 3.5-litre naturally aspired V6, good for 208kW, the Passport distributes drive to all four wheels, via a nine-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive system is wonderfully adaptable too.

Honda-Passport-2019

                                                                        Image: Net Car Show

Featuring sophisticated torque-vectoring, it can distribute all 355Nm of the V6’s torque to either the left or right drive wheels and vary the split up to 70% between the front and rear axles. There’s a 50/50 off-road pseudo-locking function too, which mimics a proper centre-differential. 

Rated to tow 2.2t and with a 70-litres underfloor stowage space (perfect for stowing dirty mountain bike gear), it’s everything you’d want in a large Japanese SUV. It’s also highly unlikely to ever become available in South Africa. 

Skoda Kodiaq vRS

Imagine a VW Tiguan performance model with diesel power and styling even more daring than the striking R-Line design. That’s what is on offer from VW subsidiary, Skoda, with its new Kodiaq vRS.

The nameplate might be odd (it is really a lower-case 'v', and upper-case 'RS'), but the package is a very convincing mid-size performance SUV. It’s powered by 2-litre diesel, boosted by two-turbochargers working in sequence.

Skoda-Kodiaq_RS-2019

                                                                        Image: Net Car Show

That combination is good for 176kW and 500Nm, which means 0-100km/h in 7 seconds and a top speed of 220km/h.

Best of all, cruising fuel consumption averages to around 6.4l/100km and it looks fantastic. Think of this as the Golf GTD of performance SUVs. Again, something which could make so much sense locally, but we must admire from afar. 

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Although Toyota’s most successful business in South Africa concern its bakkies and SUVs, the company still does a fair trade in its traditional legacy sedan: the Corolla. 

This year will be of particular importance to Toyota, as it launches the twelfth-generation Corolla in South Africa, but sadly, we won’t get the most attractive and desirable version.

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                                                                         Image: Net Car Show

It’s called the Touring Sports and it combines fabled Toyota reliability and build-quality with 598-litres of luggage space and an uncharacteristically stylish silhouette – for a Corolla. 

The Touring Sports promises to be an ownership dream too, as there is the option of a 132kW petrol-electric 2-litre hybrid engine. Cheap to run. Looks great. Can accommodate both the kids and dogs.

What a deal. But alas, not an option for South Africans who want a five-door Toyota family vehicle, that isn’t an SUV. 

AMG E53 Estate 

The lament about absent estate cars continues with AMG’s latest nameplate. Mercedes-Benz’s speed-merchant engineering subsidiary has revealed a raft of new E53 derivatives, but none are quite as beguiling as its low-riding wagon. 

Although South Africans will have the option on all other E53 AMGs, we won’t be getting the estate car. Mercedes-Benz’s product planners will counter by saying that the GLE53 SUV is also a five-door estate car of sorts - and has the benefit of gravel travel ability.

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                                                                          Image: Net Car Show

That might be true, but it also has a much higher centre of gravity, which undoes its dynamic fluidity into and through corners – compared to the lower roofline E53 AMG estate. 

And then there is the stance of it. And that side-profile silhouette, which looks as on-point as only an estate car with side skirts and oversized wheels can. But we won’t be getting any of these E53 Estates. Unfortunately. Handsome family car with 640-litres of luggage space and 320kW. What a tragedy. 

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