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Summer Fun...
Mini Cooper S Convertible
Lotus Elise 111R
Nissan 350Z Roadster

Broadcast dates : 6th November 2005
12th November 2005

And the chilling is easy,
But the Roads are beckoning,
And the horsepowerís on highÖ

Thereís not much to dislike about the Mini. It has lovely retro cabin touches, its top folds down easily and neatly, and in the business end it has a highly-developed supercharged engine in S configuration.

Anyone that dismisses the soft-top S as a soft-touch is in for a surprise.

Thing is, beneath that cuteness factor, thereís a serious motorcar, ready to step up to the crease.

When youíre cruising the country in a Mini your never bored. It has an ability to involve you, whether youíre running hard or laying back in mellow mode.

So what IS the price of going topless? For the Cooper S convertible youíll shell out just under 250 000 ponies, whereas the tin-top version of the "S" is about R35000 cheaper.
The impressive part of the Mini Convertible is its solidity. On some cars, removing the roof produces a flexible rattletrap. But the Mini body has been well reinforced.

For this reason the convertible is heavier than the hatch Mini so itís a tad slower. But with the breeze in your hair, who cares?

Mini Cooper S Convertible

  • Engine: Four-cylinder petrol, supercharged, 1 598 cc
  • Power: 125 kW @ 6000 rpm
  • Torque: 220 Nm @ 4 000 rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 8,3 seconds
  • Top speed: 217 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 10,3 litres/100 km (Car Magazine figures)
  • Price R 249 000
As a respected race and rally driver, Gugu took to the Lotus like a supermodel to a swimsuit. No girl-talk in this machine.

Youíre getting very little car for your money with the Lotus. But before sending us e-mails about the glory days of Colin Chapman and Jim Clark, let us explain that we donít mean that as an insult.

Lotus founder Chapman was obsessed with light weight and this 800 kilogram sports car continues the fine tradition that saw the late Jim Clark win two world driverís championships for Lotus in 1963 and 1965.

The Lotus, it has to be said, only appeals to a select group of performance car freaks. 

It is minimalistic in the extreme, difficult to get in and out of, and its only concession to comfort is an air-conditioning system.

The 111 R version uses a Toyota 1,8 litre motor similar to the RunX Rsi mill.
The 141 kilowatt power-peak may not sound much. But with only 800 kilograms to shift, it comes to the topless pool party with a claimed 5,2 0-100 and a 240 km/h top speed.

Thereís no traction control, just chassis response and grip to die for.

Nevertheless, at a hefty R487 000, you really have to want it baaaad!

Lotus Elise 111R

  • Engine: Four-cylinder petrol, 1 796 cc
  • Power: 141 kW7 800 rpm
  • Torque: 181 Nm @ 6 800 rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 5,2 seconds
  • Top speed: 240 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 10,8 litres/100 km (estimated)
  • Price: R487 000
Whatís interesting about all three of these topless mamas is that they have serious heritage.

And the Nissan is no exception, having evolved from the Datsun-Nissan 240Z Sports car of the 1970s that literally transformed Nissanís dowdy image in America. Three decades on, the 350Z is doing the same for Nissan here in South Africa.

The coupe 350Z is a current favourite at drag strips and gymkhanas. In topless form itís just as good.

The heart and soul of this Nissan - any Nissan, in fact Ė is its engine. 244 kilowatts of fire-breathing fun.

And yes, with the top folded away you hear every revolution, every sonorous response to the throttle.

At R425 000, the Nissan 350Z is priced below its main competitors, the Chrysler Crossfire and Audi three-comma-two roadsters. And it offers more sportiness than either.

It feels like a real driverís car, with a solid gearshift and communicative rear-wheel-drive handling.

Nissan 350Z Roadster

  • Engine: V6 petrol, 3 498 cc
  • Power: 206 kW @ 6 200 rpm
  • Torque: 363 Nm @ 4 800 rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 6 45 seconds
  • Top speed: 248 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 14,0 litres/100 km
  • Price: R425 000
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