Safety on the track has been one of Michael Schumacher’s
wheelbarrows that he has pushed for some years. He is now taking that to the
roads as well, being in Dublin to launch Europe’s Road Safety Charter.
Our six times Formula One World Champion joined forces with
the FIA Foundation and transport ministers from across the European Union (EU)
at the initiative. Along with FIA President Max Mosley, Schumacher was a keynote
speaker, calling on governments, companies and organizations across the EU to
make a firm and measurable commitment to improve road safety. The EU has a
target of reducing road deaths by 50 percent by 2010.
Schumacher said, “As a racing driver I am extremely
concerned about safety - not only on the race track, but also on the road. I
would not dream of starting a race without my seat belt securely fastened, or of
starting my car without checking first that everybody traveling with me was
safe. It only takes a few conscious steps; a few seconds thought and action, to
ensure the highest possible safety in a car.”
Max Mosley said, “At European level we do need more focus
on road safety, with a dedicated road safety commissioner concentrating on road
safety every hour of every day. In France road deaths have fallen by 20 percent
in one year because President Chirac decided to take road safety seriously. Most
road deaths are preventable. Thousands of people are being killed unnecessarily
and we must have the political will to stop it.”
Road traffic deaths and injuries have fallen in all EU member
states over recent years, but it is feared that the entry of 10 new countries
could reverse the downward trend.
They should consider themselves fortunate that Thailand is
not eligible to enter the EU, as that would certainly skyrocket the figures. We
have one of the worst road tolls in the world. Songkran figures alone would
topple governments in Europe. As Max Mosely said, “Most road deaths are
preventable. Thousands of people are being killed unnecessarily and we must have
the political will to stop it.” When will Thailand’s pollies learn this?
One of the cars at the Bangkok International MoShow that
caught my fancy was the Peugeot 206CC. I have to admit that it also caught my
eye the year before, but it is still a great funky little rocket, complete with
one of those folding roofs. Our Down-under correspondent John Weinthal has
sampled one a little while back and he described it as being fun, but void of
traditional Peugeot virtues. Here are the Words from Weinthal.
206CC at MoShow
“For more than 40 years Peugeot has been noted for some
outstanding qualities. Their reputation for strength and reliability was
underlined when the 203 model won the first Redex Around Australia Trial in
1953. The Peugeot 403 of the late ’50s became the benchmark for quiet, supple,
bump absorbent ride. Peugeots of their day rivalled Jaguars for quiet, refined
ride, at least until the XJ6 arrived in 1978. These qualities of strength,
reliability and a comfortable hushed ride remain as Peugeot virtues.
“This test car is the remarkably styled convertible version
of Peugeot’s wonderful 206. Some loved the lines of the 206CC- others were
simply bemused. (I love it. Dr. Iain.) The first thing to remark on is the
folding steel roof. It takes just 20 seconds to open or close and has the
simplest operation to date. It can in fact be opened or closed at up to 10kph.
This roof is every bit the equal of that of the Mercedes SLK and the Lexus
“But, the Peugeot costs well under half the Merc’s
ticket, and just under a quarter of the Lexus’ AUD 162,000 ask. Like the
Lexus, there are four head restraints and if you peer deep enough behind the
excellent front seats you will find a couple of pretend rear seats. Only two
under 10s with very short parents up front could be squeezed back there. That
space could be more valuably used for luggage because the boot, not
unexpectedly, shrinks from 410 litres to just 175 when the roof goes into its
“The 206CC is hugely distinctive. It has a wonderfully
rapid and efficient power hood system. Hood up, two people are as snug as in any
smart coupe, with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room. However, all is not
well with the 206CC. Indeed only the badges really say Peugeot. Road noise
intrudes as on no Peugeot before it. It is much worse than most current cars -
specially ones costing AUD 40,000. Roof-down it feels no match in structural
integrity for drop-tops like Mazda’s MX5, the Honda S2000 or even Peugeot’s
own 306. Another first. After almost 40 years writing about cars this is the
first one with sun visors which rattle!
“So far I have avoided the cute little Peugeot’s
mechanical elements. It is available either as an auto with an 80 kW 1.6 litre
engine, or a 100 kW 2 litre with manual gears. The 1.6 auto costs AUD 38,000 and
the manual 2 litre is AUD 40,000, plus the usual drive-away costs in both cases.
(In Thailand we only get the 1.6 lire auto which retails for a sniff under 2
million baht. Dr. Iain.)
“Performance from the test car’s 1.6 litre could best be
described as adequate, but it was no fireball and it was noisy at almost all
times. Worse than this, this engine is mis-matched to one of those awful
so-called adaptive automatic gearboxes. In this case the engine and transmission
barely acknowledge each other’s existence. The auto hunts and holds lower
gears for far longer than necessary, while the engine revs up and down to a
score of its own.
“I would love to try the 206CC with the 2 litre engine and
manual gearbox because the car rides and handles well, and can occasionally be
quite fun even with the test car’s extraordinary engine/transmission mix.
“The car grabs the eye; the hood is brilliant in its
execution and operation and it is comprehensively equipped. Standard gear (in
Australia) includes climate control air-conditioning, CD player, two air bags,
ABS anti-lock brakes and remote locking and window operation - in fact just
about everything except cruise control.
“However, if you expect all the traditional Peugeot values
you will be disappointed. This was all the more disappointing because each of
the regular 206’s I have driven has been marvellous in just about every way -
true Peugeots, made the Peugeot way.”
(Thank you John, but I still like the funky looks! Dr. Iain.)