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Hummer H3 rolls off the production line

Broadcast date : 12th November 2006

Somehow the term S.U.V. or Sports Utility Vehicle doesnít do justice to the Hummer. The American-built Hummer has its roots in the Iraqi conflict in 1990.

Now the civilian Hummer H3 is being built right here in South Africa, opening up new horizons for what is already a global icon.

The picturesque backdrop of the Outeniqua mountain range in the Eastern Cape seemed to be part of a Hollywood script for the Hummer H3 media launch, to celebrate the first left-hand-drive models rolling off the General Motors production line a few weeks ago.

It was Hollywood and Arnold Schwarzenegger that took Hummer global in the movie Terminator. The military Humvee was succeeded by the massive road-going H1 and H2 models, but this H3 is a scaled-down version to feed a world-wide demand that took even General Motors strategists by surprise.

When GMSA's Managing Director Bob Socia uses the term "I can do it" to describe the Hummerís appeal, heís tapping into an essential child-like optimism that the Hummer embodies, like the little steam engine that puffed its way up the hill saying "I think I can."

The Hummerís simple styling is almost toy-like, but thereís nothing juvenile about its mechanical spec.

It has an in-line five-cylinder 3,7 litre petrol engine known as the Vortec, manual or automatic transmission, 231 mm of ground clearance, and of course, high-and-low range four-wheel-drive.

Off-road prowess aside, itís the Hummerís Chunky Charlie looks that will see it fly out of showrooms when it goes on sale here in about six months time.

The challenge for GMís design studio was to scale down the H1 and H2 monsters to manageable proportions, and yet retain the essential ground-shaking appeal of Hummer.

The H3 is in fact just ten per cent smaller than the H2, and its length compares to what Americans call a mid-size sedan, and weíd call a BEEEG car.

Inside thereís a clever blend of industrial ruggedness and luxury cladding, with GMís Hummer division supplying fitted seat protectors for the leather upholstery.

What gives the H3 its massive look is the fact that the glass area is small in comparison to the sheet-metal.

But in terms of wheeling the H3 around town, itís possibly better than most SUVs out there, as it has a surprisingly good turning circle for a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

The interior is well put together, and these pre-launch left-hand-drive models are a tribute to Bob Sociaís team in Port Elizabeth. They faced the enormous task of establishing a brand new production line far away from General Motorsí source plants in America and Europe, and achieving this in less than two years.

Like most things worthwhile in life, establishing the South African Hummer connection wasnít easy.

We think that the Hummer is going to make an earth-moving impact on the SUV market in South Africa Ė simply because itís so much fun.

Itís an enormous achievement, Hummer coming to South Africa. Roll on 2007 and the right-hand-drive versions. 

As for price, weíd figure at something between R450 000 and R500 000.

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