While many were outraged by the cancellation of the Johannesburg International Motoring Show last year, the 2016 edition, now relaunched as the SA Festival of Motoring, changed things up a bit. Now hosted at the newly refurbished Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit & International Convention Centre, the motoring show blends a good mix of stationary displays, along with a lot more activities, which include test drives and flying laps. The event, having started on Wednesday, 31st August 2016, would see its highest foot traffic from the public over the course of the weekend, and judging by the queues alone, the numbers were significant.
The motoring media were treated to a number of unveilings during the first two days of proceedings, with the likes of BMW (BMW M4 GTS), Jaguar (F-Type SVR), Mercedes-Benz, Datsun (GO+), Toyota (Etios Sprint), Lexus (IS Sport), Nissan (GT-R) and Land Rover (Range Rover Evoque Convertible) all launching a new car into the South African market. While not all of these cars were available for public test drives, or even a lap with a professional, there were more than enough cars available to the public to experience a lap out on the Kyalami track. If you played your cards right, you could experience at least one car from each of the manufacturers available on the day. I spent most of Saturday at the track, hoping to experience every aspect of the event that was possible, and I did just that, right down to the Ski Slopes and slot car track at the VW exhibition stand.
If you weren’t prepared to spend your time waiting in long queues, there was more than enough happening on track and around the venue to keep you entertained for 2-3 hours. I wasn’t prepared for just another Saturday walkabout, so I spent quite a significant amount of time at the Kyalami racetrack, close to 10 hours worth. But it all paid off in the end, as I got to experience every manufacturer stand for a test lap, as well as an off-road experience on the 4×4 track in a Land Rover. It’s difficult for me to pick a clear favourite experience during the day. The Jaguar F-Type was stunningly quick and well balanced, but not as exciting as the F-Pace, thanks to the unexpected aggression it delivered while throwing you around in your seat.
Other activities around the venue included live music, freestyle motocross, VW adventure activities, Mercedes handling track and smart activation, a variety of food stalls including craft beer, a few celebrity signing and photo sessions, Ster Kinekor PlayStation tent and Lego area, racing simulators, car galleries, and a showcase of 120 years of cars in South Africa.
While the day was incredibly fun, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for everyone. I’d like to think that the 2016 version of the SA Festival of Motoring was just the test run, and can only improve from here in the coming years. With the dates already set for 2017, Wednesday 30th August to Sunday 3rd September, I look forward to returning once again perhaps over a few more days than just the one.
I’d like to thank our hosts, WesBank’s PR team at Meropa Communications, not just for hosting me on the day, but also spending some 6 hours taking me around the venue, and often times waiting for me as a queued. A big thanks for the day of fun out at Kyalami, it was great.