The Bira Race Circuit has an endurance round this
weekend, rather than the sprint events so far all year. Over 50
drivers have signed up for the event, which is for touring cars (Group
N) and run in two classes - Under 1600 cc and 1601-2000 cc. The event
isn’t quite the Le Mans 24 hour, but the two hour event is a start
at getting some endurance rounds going in this country. Who knows, one
day we might even get our own 24 hour race? They have these endurance
events all over the world and they attract much media attention. The
latest is a 24 hour for touring cars around the famous Bathurst
circuit in Australia.
to our local event. There has to be two drivers for each car, but the
driver who starts has to be the driver who also takes the chequered
flag at the end - a novel twist! There will also be a need to refuel,
so the pit crews are going to be busy. One factor often overlooked by
teams is that the drivers should ideally be around the same size. Many
of the race car seats are bolted in and are not adjustable.
Another novel feature is an event for the car clubs
that have been guests at the AIM Racing Project meetings this year.
Drivers will be given an intensive training course on the Saturday and
then let loose for a ten lapper on the Sunday. I predict lots of bent
machinery! The winner will be called the King of Clubs! Organizers are
also expecting a ‘mini’ marathon with around 20 Mini’s taking
The Bira Circuit is around Km 14 on Highway 36
leading to Rayong, and between the Regent’s School and the Highway
331 flyover. Action begins at 10 a.m. on the Sunday morning 7th
Yes, we get the VW Passat in Thailand, but no, we
do not get this model, which our Down-Under correspondent John
Weinthal describes as a VW flagship in Australia - and one with a
unique engine. The biggest engine for Thailand is the 2.3 V5, which
pushes the Passat to just under 2 million baht.
This particular Passat on review sports 4 wheel
drive and a 4 litre W 8 engine configuration. Here are the Words from
“Volkswagen Australia’s flagship sedan has a
unique engine configuration and a price tag as close to AUD 100,000 as
makes no real difference. (That is about 2.7 million baht in Oz,
expect that figure to be doubled at least is you want to bring one in
from Germany - Dr. Iain.)
nameplate goes some way to explaining what this car is all about - VW
Passat W8 4Motion. These days the letters VW undoubtedly spell build
quality, no matter which product one is considering. I rate Volkswagen
- together with its Audi kin - alongside Lexus at the very pinnacle in
“The name Passat is familiar enough for VW’s
medium-luxury sedan range - restrained style, neither over the top nor
gimmicky in its equipment; cars that get about their business in a
purposeful dignified manner.
“4Motion is the German company’s designation
for constant four-wheel-drive. We have reviewed it previously in the
AUD 65,000 V6 Passat and the smaller, sporting and hugely appealing 55
grand 150kW V6 Bora.
leaves the W8 part of the test car’s lengthy name. It refers to the
engine of course. VW describes this as being like two 15 degree V4s
fused together with staggered cylinder bores. It is offset 72 degrees.
This enables this 4 litre eight cylinder unit which develops an
impressive 202kW of power and 370 Nm of torque to sit comfortably,
albeit tightly, in the regular Passat engine bay.
“While the Passat is compact in size it is no
lightweight at 1787 kg. This is some 90 kg more than a Ford Falcon and
more than 200kg up on the Holden Commodore (Chevrolet Lumina in
“However, the Passat W8 is no slouch. It can
cover the 0-100 sprint with a delicious growl from the twin exhausts
in under 8 seconds. It will surge on to an artificially stifled top
speed of 250 kph - although the inclusion of a 300kph speedo more than
“In fact, all the instruments are difficult to
read by day or night with red needles pointers on black analogue dials
and black on grey digitals by day. At night there’s a confusion of
misty blue and dayglo red information sources.
“Standard items include brilliant bi-xenon
headlamps, useful parking distance control, a chillable glove box and
a solar sunroof which maintains an in-car temperature of 20 degrees
when it is parked. The driver has a three-memory eight-way power
adjustable seat. The W8 rides on 45 profile tyres on chunky 17x7 inch
alloy wheels which have anti-theft bolts.
“There are well-shaped but firmish leather seats
plus most of the usual goodies. There is a single disc CD player in
the fascia and a six-stacker in the boot. The in-dash CD player cannot
be used at the same time as the Satellite Navigation which has the
least informative and smallest screen encountered to date, mounted
well beyond the driver’s normal vision.
“The transmission is a five-sped auto with
Steptronic control. VW’s 4Motion system incorporates a Torsen
differential and four electronic diff locks.
“Safety features include six airbags, anti-lock
brakes with brake assist and brake pressure distribution and
electronic stability control in addition plus the reassurance of
“For all this, the Passat W8 is not truly
convincing as a 100 grand contender. The build quality is A1, but the
ride is jiggly on less than good road surfaces. The handling
constantly reminds one that this is a heavyweight in spite of its
overall dimensions. Understeer rules, discouraging over-exertion on
“The W8 engine is smooth and it sounds terrific.
On our drive the Passat W8 was not unduly thirsty with a good range
assured by an 82 litre fuel tank.
“Along with the genuinely impressive V8 and V10
diesel Touareg off-roaders, this model of the Passat is intended to
warm the well-heeled to the idea of VW as a serious contender in
motoring’s upper reaches prior to the arrival of the seriously
luxurious Phaeton next year powered by another W configuration
powerplant, but with 12 cylinders.”
Thank you John for your overview of the all wheel drive Passat. I
wonder when (if) we’ll get it here?