/ 2 September 2022

Fun at the Festival of Motoring but not for petrolheads

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Luxurious: In the Mercedes-Benz line of all-electric vehicles is the spacious EQ B, which is suitable for a family, and the EQ S 53, which offers a first-class driving experience.

It was refreshing to experience the return of the Festival of Motoring after a two-year hiatus, when regulations for the Covid-19 pandemic squashed this side of the industry. But this year’s festival was less thrilling for hardcore petrolheads. 

The festival at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit is similar to an amusement park. In essence, you find the cars you want to experience and stand in a queue until you reach the front of the line. Then you hop into the car and enjoy the ride. 

The only difference is this ride is faster, louder and just a little bit more thrilling than the craziest ride at any theme park. 

Rugged luxury: The Jeep Grand Cherokee (above) is designed for performance, efficiency and fun.

Oh, and then there are the endless indemnity forms you’ll need to sign because of the risk of such an activity. 

If exciting rides and going fast aren’t your thing, then the 4×4 section is for you. Here, the latest in off-road vehicles such as the Jeep Gladiator slowly showed off their mettle as they made light work of the off-road obstacle courses. 

In the past, the latest performance cars were shown off to the public in a loud and thrilling way. In 2019, we saw the launch of the Toyota Supra, the Lexus RC-F and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. 

There were also displays by brands such as Volkswagen and Audi. 

But this year there were few exciting rides. 

Fortunately Mercedes did bring along its AMG line to show off. 

The only other option was Alfa Romeo. It provided one Giulia QV and one Stelvio Q, which are impressive vehicles, although this meant there were only 45 rides in each vehicle a day. 

Bear in mind about 60 000 people attended the festival over the weekend, which meant the only option for the remaining 58 000 people was the Mercedes-Benz pit to experience something mind-bogglingly quick. 

Mercedes took people out in its almost full line of AMG cars, but again the rides were limited because the all-new electric cars were swapped after the first session of the day. 

The Mercedes electric models in the form of the EQ C and EQ A are good cars but probably not as exciting as the AMG V8 rockets. 

Apparently the issue was that the drivers of the EQ Mercedes were not pushing the cars. A few people said they weren’t overly thrilled after their hot laps. On the other hand, I did overhear a lot of positive feedback about the AMG performance and electric hot laps.

The Jeep Gladiator offers many new features and offers an open-air experience.

It was impressive seeing Stellantis bring out most of its brands — Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Abarth/Fiat, Opel and Citroen — and show off all their metal wares. These included the recently launched Jeep Grand Cherokee and Opel Mokka. Yes, they weren’t the most exciting rides, but they never failed to leave their passengers smiling. 

Chery, too, showed up in force, providing Tiggos for shuttle transport — and it even had a few out on the track. I do believe that people will be more intrigued after experiencing the Tiggo lineup. Chery’s cars are surprising. 

The Chery Tiggo Pro7 offers comfort and convenience and comes with an array of features.

Suzuki, meanwhile, got the public talking, providing a non-stop Suzuki Swift Sport track experience and shocking the public with just how lively the little Swift can be. The drivers wielding the Swift Sports subjected their passengers to a real racing experience, by riding up each other’s tails and really throwing that little car around. 

The Festival of Motoring, although a little less exciting than previous years, was a great success. 

The public was able to satiate their passion for motoring after being exposed to Formula One track sessions and bikers who were racing their hearts out.