The Simola Hillclimb may have been catalysed by like-minded petrolheads taking to the stretch of tarmac for the most blistering time but it has evolved into a proving ground for OEMs to flex their muscles locally. Here is how they did according to the timing sheets.
At the 2023 edition of the event, Suzuki and BMW, Tier 1 sponsors along with Volkswagen, Ford and Honda took to the hallowed grounds as OEMs. Despite the dozens of privateered models from each of the aforementioned firms, there were also showroom floor models prepared for the event. Here is how the bone stock models fared on the 1,9 km stretch of Knysna road on the Sunday class finals and King of the Hill Shootout.
Suzuki entered a trio of Swift Sports into the event, with the affordable and peppy hatchback quietly silencing the critics with respectable road holding and brisk cornering. Of the three models entered, two managed to qualify for the class finals with the quickest of the bunch managing just over a minute on during the rain-sodden surface.
Find a Swift Sport with CARmag here.
BMW who had also been involved in sponsorship had several models tackle the track. The behemoth XM and unreleased M2 were chief on the agenda for spectators to gawk at. Sunday saw the models tackle the wet weather with the rear-wheel drive tippy-toe on the damp track. Qualifying times from the day before were undoubtedly faster.
Find your next Bavarian behemoth with CARmag here.
Volkswagen had a spectacle in store for viewers and spectators with Petter Solberg’s purpose-built WRC R Polo. His four-wheel drive traction and mastery at the controls meant that in both dry and wet, the super-hatchback managed a time no other class competitor could match but since it is not available to the consumer, has not made the list. That being said, other R models with similar DNA took to the hill in the form of the Golf R, with Henning Solberg piloting the one.
Honda’s freshly released Civic Type R arrived in Championship White. Of only 60 models being brought into local shores, this one needed to set the record straight and prove that it is the ultimate FWD hot hatch out there. Ford also had one solitary model competing the uphill stretch but it would be unlike anything expected to take to the hill. The new Ford Ranger Raptor, despite its heft, was the only bakkie to challenge for a time.
Find your next Honda with CARmag here.
Here is how the OEMs did:
- Mercedes AMG A45S (Mika Salo – Class A2) – 47,876
- Mercedes AMG A45S (Clint Weston – Class A2) – 47,981
- BMW XM (Ashley Oldfield – Class A8) – 48,473
- Volkswagen Golf R (Jonothan Mogotsi – Class A2) – 50,537
- Volkswagen Golf R (Daniel Rowe – Class A2) – 50,587
- BMW M2 (Robert Gearing – Class A3) – 52,488
- BMW i4 M50 (Thomas Falkiner – Class A8) – 53,311
- Honda Civic Type R (Deon Joubert – Class A1) – 55,368*
- BMW iX3 (Bradleigh Boshoff – Class A8) – 55,985*
- Suzuki Swift Sport (Wesley Greybe – Class A1) – 1:00,809*
- Ford Ranger Raptor (Anthony Taylor – Class B9) – 1:02,064*
- Suzuki Swift Sport (Sudhir Matai – Class A1) – 1:02,667*
* times set during Class Final with damp track – all other times were set during Road Going Saloons and Supercars Shootout which only included 10 vehicles from qualifying with slightly more favourable conditions.