Toyota Auris

Toyota Auris unveiled and Nissan Leaf expansion revealed at Johannesburg auto show

South Africans are excited this weekend because, after much fanfare, Toyota has taken the wraps off of its new Auris TRD at the Johannesburg International Motor Show, which runs through Oct. 16 at the Johannesburg Expo Centre.

The new Toyota Auris, shown here being unveiled by Mufti Maqbool Khatieb and Kent Pluke of Toyota at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Nasrec, is a limited-production hatchback coupe powered by a 1.6-liter petrol engine. The powerplant generates 133kW at 6400 rpm and 202Nm at 5200 rpm

The Auris TRD will be accompanied by a bolt-on supercharging kit and aero body kit with skirting. A TRD Sportivo suspension kit is included in the package.

A 6-speed manual gearbox pushes the 17-inch front alloy wheels.

The Auris TRD's interior has leather seating and a 6-speaker CD / USB / Bluetooth sound system.

Toyota has not priced the Auris TRD. The auto press in South Africa speculate the car will sell there for "below the R300 000 mark."

Local reporters speculated in their columns that competitors of the Toyota Auris TRD include the Golf GTI and Opel Astra 1.6T. Potential buyers are excited by the car.

"It's the first Auris I actually like," said Ashvir Maharaj, who can't wait for the Auris to hit showrooms in 2012. "TRD ... yeah, baby!"

Other show highlights from Johannesburg:

1. Nissan announced plans to launch its Leaf lithium ion battery-driven car in South Africa by 2013. The Leaf, which is on display this weekend in Johannesburg, is sold right now in North America, Japan and Europe. The Leaf has been in production since 2010. The Leaf is assembled in Oppama, Japan, at present but will be built in Smyrna, Tenn., in 2012 and in the United Kingdom in 2013, a Nissan spokesman told reporters.

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2. Tata Motors, India's largest automaker, introduced the Manza sedan and Prima "world trucks" on Friday, generating auto-industry buzz worldwide. A "formal" launch of these vehicles is planned for the first quarter of 2012 and after that they will be available for purchase.

The Prima vehicles were jointly developed by Mumbai-based Tata Motors in league with Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle in South Korea and Tata Motors European Technical Centre in Britain.

"These introductions benefit from our innovations and learnings from South Africa's customers," Tata Motors Managing Director of India Operations PM Telang said in a statement.

Right now Tata Motors sells and exports the Indica and Indica Vista hatchback, Indigo sedan and station wagon, Xenon pickup truck and Safari SUV to South Africa. Tata Motors also manufactures almost two dozen trucks and buses.

Tata Motors has sold more than 32,000 vehicles in South Africa since it began exporting vehicles in 2004.

"We see Africa as a region of tremendous potential," Noel Tata, managing director of Tata International Ltd., told reporters in Johannesburg. "In South Africa, the auto industry is making giant strides and we are happy to contribute to this growth."

3. The Audi e-tron electric car concept has generated a lot of excitement among show-goers.

You can reach TN's Hawke Fracassa at hawkefracassa@aol.com or (248) 747-1550. Follow him on Twitter @HawkeFracassa.

Image source: Toyota