Volvo EX30

The highly anticipated Volvo EX30 electric crossover is en route to make its debut in the country. With a starting price of R775,900, the EX30 will be one of the most cost-effective EVs in the market.

The EX30 is a powerhouse in performance, efficiency, and safety. With a 315 kW Twin Motor Performance option, it boasts the title of ‘the fastest-accelerating Volvo ever’, blitzing from zero to 100 km/h in a blistering 3.6 seconds. The Single Motor (rear-wheel drive) variant offers an extended range, covering up to 480 km on the WLTP cycle. Showcasing its global appeal, the EX30 has been shortlisted for the 2024 European Car of the Year Award. Volvo Car South Africa is setting a new trend by being among the first countries to receive the initial allocation of EX30 units – a testament to the model’s relevance in the local market and the significant early demand from consumers. Scheduled for a local launch in the first quarter of 2024, Greg Maruszewski, Managing Director at Volvo Car South Africa, expects the EX30 to become a top seller in 2024.


Toyota Hilux Champ

Remember the Stallion, that small, no-frills bakkie based on the Toyota Kijang and first introduced here as the TUV in 1988? Yes, the “Tolla bakkie” (so-called because of the popularity of the advertising campaign featuring local Afrikaans comedian Tolla Van Der Merwe). Or how about the original, a bakkie based on the Lite Stout assembled in South Africa from 1965 and called Stallion to distinguish it from the original Toyota Stout bakkie? 

Well, the concept of the Stallion – that of a no-nonsense die-hard light workhorse – is returning in revised form with the Hilux-based IMV 0, first shown at the Japan Mobility Show 2023 and now introduced in Thailand. Called the Hilux Champ, the IMV 0 is the latest model in the IMV series. 

With the Hilux Champ, Toyota decided to return to its origins by creating an IMV pick-up that is truly affordable and meets the needs of customers. The critical aspect is the modularity of the Champ’s design, making it easy to customise to suit diverse requirements and needs. Eleven customised models of the Hilux Champ have been introduced in Thailand, offering eight grades with an emphasis on covering a variety of business styles and uses. 

It will be available in short- and long-wheelbase versions, and initially, three engine derivatives will be offered – a four-cylinder 2.0-litre and four-cylinder 2.7-litre petrol engine, as well as a four-cylinder 2.4-litre diesel engine (as used in the Hilux locally), mated to a five-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic transmission. An unequipped chassis-cab version is also available,

The deck of the Hilux Champ has bolt holes at various locations so that custom accessories can be easily attached using bolts and nuts, making endless customisation solutions possible. Prices for the Champ (in Thailand) range from R244,000 to R306,000. Will it come to South Africa? Most likely, given its IMV Hilux roots, and local production is a distinct possibility.


Dacia Duster

The new Dacia Duster (badged Renault in South Africa) opens the next chapter in the story of this all-round iconic model, and it is set to reach our shores soon. In its 13-year-long career, the Duster has been awarded more than 40 accolades, production stands at 2.2 million units, and around 1,000 Duster SUVs roll off the production lines at the Dacia plant in Pitesti, Romania, every day.

The new Duster retains the striking looks that propelled the earlier generations to the top but pushes it further with honed proportions for a robust and balanced posture. The underbody shields and wheel-arch guards are now made of a tougher, sturdy material called Starkle that is up to 20% recycled. 

Inside, the shape of the air vents resembles the wheel arches, and the 10.1” centre screen is positioned at a 10° angle towards the driver. The steering wheel has flattened surfaces at the top and bottom, and “Y-shaped signature” styling underscores the link between the interior and exterior. 

Built on the CMF-B platform, the new Duster has more interior space than the previous generation yet is only fractionally longer overall. The platform can accommodate mild-hybrid and full-hybrid drivetrains and will be available with a 4×4 Terrain Control transmission, and five driving modes: Auto, Snow, Mud, Sand, and Off-road.

The hybrid powertrain in the new Duster TCe 140 comprises a four-cylinder, 1.6-litre, 70 kW petrol engine, two electric motors (a 36 kW powerplant and a high-voltage starter generator), and an electric automatic gearbox (with four engine ratios and two motor ratios).

The Duster TCe 130 combines a new-generation three-cylinder, 1.2-litre turbocharged Miller-cycle petrol engine and a 48 V mild hybrid motor. The TCe 130 is available with a six-speed manual gearbox in the 4×2 and 4×4 versions. 


Jaecoo J7

Jaecoo, the newly established urban off-road SUV marque and second brand from Omoda&Jaecoo, will launch its first model, the highly sophisticated J7 in South Africa in early 2024. 

Described as tougher than typical urban SUVs but more comfortable than traditional off-roaders, with a raft of advanced safety features, the new Jaecoo J7 is poised to start a new urban off-roading trend among local buyers, according to Jaecoo.

The distinctive exterior styling of the J7 is a mixture of classic aesthetics and cutting-edge design, with a matrix-style grille, slim LED headlights, and elegant flush door handles. The urban SUV has a minimalistic yet luxurious interior, including a vast 24.6” screen.

Positioned as a mid-sized SUV, the J7 is endowed with the proprietary Jaecoo All Road Drive Intelligent System (ARDIS). This sophisticated, intelligent off-road system boasts as many as seven drive modes. It comfortably seats five adults in its luxurious, high-quality cabin. 

The Jaecoo 7 is based on Chery’s new T1 X platform and will be available with a powerful 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine delivering 147 kW and 290 Nm of torque, coupled with a seven-speed DCT (and all-wheel-drive). However, a PHEV model with a 1.5-litre turbo engine (delivering 115 kW and 220 Nm of torque) coupled with a hybrid transmission (DMT) is set to arrive in the third quarter of 2024.

Also confirmed is the arrival of the flagship Jaecoo J8 –that was revealed in Qatar as recently as October – and packed with more segment-redefining features, from an ultra-smart curved infotainment screen to row-specific climate control, in the last quarter of 2024.

The J7 and other upcoming Jaecoo products will be sold through and supported by a dedicated network of Omoda&Jaecoo dealerships, with 30 already established across South Africa. More details, including local specifications and pricing, will be released closer to the respective launches in 2024.

Report by FERDI DE VOS


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