Automania

Germam GP this weekend

This week is the German GP. Will anyone be able to remain in front of the current world champion Michael Schumacher? He started from fourth on the grid in the UK two weeks ago and still won, even though he never passed anyone on the track! All the passing was done in the pits. The answer for the other teams is surely to remain out on track and make him work for it! We are all awaiting some real ‘racing’!

I believe the race will start at 7 p.m., but as always check your local TV feed as I wouldn’t like to be the reason for your missing the start!

The German GP is being held at Hockenheim, not Nurburgring, which was the venue for the European GP. It was opened in 1939, 15 miles from Heidelberg, and was used for German national car and motorcycle racing. In 1965/6 it was uprated to a design by John Hugenholz because one end was lost when an autobahn was built. The resulting 4.206-mile circuit remained blindingly quick for most of its length, with a slow section in the ‘stadium’ (i.e. grandstand) area, similar in concept to the GP course at Indianapolis.

Hockenheim achieved notoriety in 1968 when, at one of the first major races held at the circuit, Jim Clark was killed in a Formula Two race. While the exact cause of Clark’s accident has never been established with 100 percent certainty, it is thought that he crashed as a result of tyre failure. His death was caused, however, by the fact that his car was able to leave the circuit and hit a tree.

While the Nurburgring was being made safe, Hockenheim staged the 1970 German GP with a layout made slower by the construction of three chicanes. It was not a popular choice of venue but, following Lauda’s accident at the Nurburgring in 1976, Hockenheim became the home of the German GP apart from 1985 when the new ‘Nurburgring’ had the race.


Anyone want a BMW with a V10 engine?

Well, you can put me on the list immediately, and I would have one tomorrow if I did not suffer with the condition that produces long pockets and very short arms! The BMW I am referring to is the M variant of the 5 series, known as the E60 M5 sports sedan.

BMW 5 Series

At the end of June, BMW released the ultimate performance weapon from their stable, with the (much awaited) M5 sports sedan. Revealed in concept form at the Geneva motor show in March and to make its world-wide debut in production guise at the September Paris show, the most powerful 5 Series of all time is claimed to do the zero to 100 km/h in “less than five seconds” with the current M5’s 5.3-seconds no slouch either. The power curve goes straight up, with the 0-200 km/h coming up in 15 seconds and a theoretical top speed of 330km/h (if it wasn’t electronically limited to 250km/h).

One reason for this improvement, on what was already a blistering performance, is that the new five litre V10 develops 373 kW at 7,750rpm and 520Nm of torque at 6,100 rpm, compared to the previous model’s five litre V8 which has 294kW (at 6,600rpm). With the additional power from the new V10, and a lighter body weight in the car itself, this is the reason for the huge improvement in performance figures.

As a result, the 1755 kg undercuts the 1795 kg E39 M5, which is enough to give the new M5 an even better power-to-weight ratio than the stripped-out M3 CSL (at 3.5kg per horsepower).

According to BMW, the highly oversquare (with each 500cc cylinder measuring a 75.2 x 92mm bore and stroke for displacement of 4999cc) and high revving (8250 rpm red line) 90-degree twin overhead cam 40 valve engine will be the only high-revving V10 series-production engine available. (The Dodge Viper V10 is a slow revving engine by comparison, developing its 500 horsepower from 8.25 litres at 5,600 rpm.)

As justification of M5’s application of the complex new V10, which provides a useful marketing link to its WilliamsF1 operation, BMW says its inherently high-revving nature was the only way M5 could deliver this sort of engine performance without resorting to a either supercharging or a larger-capacity version of the current M5’s “high-torque V8” – both of which would also have necessitated a heavier drive train.

To bolt on behind the V10 there is a new seven speed sequential manual gearbox with 11-program ‘Drivelogic’ control. Again according the BMW press kit, the E60 M5 gearbox offers an improved automatic function, Launch Control, a further development of M5’s best of both worlds switchable Power Button, which defaults to make just 300kW available at start-up, which is said to be “sufficient for everyday use”. It says the latest gearbox can change gears 20 percent faster than the current gearbox in manual shift mode.

The new E60 M5, features 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, will sport three selectable levels of ride comfort via the Electronic Damper Control function, 19 inch wheels with 255/40 front and 285/35-section rear tyres. Braking now includes the 7 Series’ twin-piston sliding calliper aluminium brakes, capable of 100km/h to dead stop in a claimed 36 metres.

If you have one of these expensive ‘M-toys’ you want the world to know and the E60 M5 will have a wind tunnel-tested body kit that adds deeper front bumpers with a diffuser at the rear and a mesh-covered grille up front, flanked by a pair of ovoid inlets needed to get enough air into the V10 engine.

M gills behind the front wheels, trademark quad tail pipes and unique door mirrors complete the external package, while inside there’s a specific instrument cluster that continue to feature yellow and red warning lights that progressively extinguish as engine oil heats up.

Kia Sorento 4x4 Wagon

Kia in Thailand has had a roller-coaster of a ride for the past few years, but seems to be coming back strongly. The Pregio wagon and the Carnival are appearing in greater numbers daily, and it seems as though the 2.5 million baht Kia Sorento will be making its mark soon too.

Kia Sorento 4x4 Wagon

Our Down-under correspondent, John Weinthal has had one for a week and believes that this vehicle is another winner from a company on the run. Here are the Words from Weinthal.

“Kia is one of the motoring success stories of the past decade. It claims to be the fastest growing brand in Australia, Britain, mainland Europe and China. Its world-wide success is attributable to such competitively priced and comprehensively equipped models as the Rio small car, the Carnival people mover and Pregio range of light commercial vans.

“Another big mover for Kia has been the 145 kW V6 Sorento all wheel drive wagon which we are reviewing this week in manual and automatic forms. Like the rest of the range the Sorento is almost extravagantly equipped, feels well made and is priced to awaken the competition. The manual Sorento costs AUD 36,000 and auto adds AUD 1950 at AUD 37,950.

“Larger than a Jeep Cherokee, the attractively styled Sorento has a wider track than the Mercedes M Class, BMW X5 and Ford Explorer and more luggage capacity than the Land Rover Discovery.

“The near two ton Sorento has a separate ladder-frame chassis which combines with good ground clearance, good approach and departure angles, high and low-range gearing, protective plates underneath the vehicle and excellent wheel articulation to ensure that tough off-roading can be tackled with confidence. A dashboard knob is turned to select two or four-wheel-drive at up to 80kph.

“Standard gear will woo many. There’s air con with under-seat outlets for the rear passengers, cruise control, power windows, mirrors and remote locks, eight speaker sound system with CD player, front and rear cup holders and power points, two airbags, ABS anti-lock disc brakes, roof rack and smart alloy wheels with dual purpose tyres as standard. A roof console includes gauges for outside temperature and barometric pressure plus a compass and altimeter. A host of storage spaces includes a locker under the rear floor and drawers under the front seats. The tailgate has an opening window for easy loading of smaller items.

“Passenger and luggage space is lavish, Kia having resisted the urge to have a cramped third row. The rear seats fold flat either as a whole or 60/40. A centre rear armrest incorporates another large storage locker.

“All this would be wasted were the Sorento a dog to drive. Far from that, it is as car-like as any of its ilk, and lighter in its controls than most. My own choice for driving pleasure and cost-saving would be the manual. It costs less and would be marginally quicker and more economical. The gear change is slick and clutch action is unusually light, as is the steering. Some may reckon this lightness as inappropriate to a genuine off-roader but I found it a welcome change.

“Although the V6 thrives on hard work it is not as refined as some. An 80 litre fuel tank ensures a good range between refills and the test vehicle proved reasonably economical compared with rivals of similar size and power.

“This is a company on the run. It is already one of the top 10 brands on our market and is set to overtake Subaru, Honda and its own parent Korean Hyundai here over the next year.”

(As I mentioned at the beginning, Kia is one company that is coming back strongly. Dr. Iain.)


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked you to take a look at the photo. This vehicle was designed by Dr. Porsche to attack the world land speed record. I asked what auto company was the builder? The answer was Daimler-Benz. The year was 1938, but it never got to run as the war intervened. I believe it was being loaded on to a ship bound for the US when war was declared. It was hidden in a barn in Germany for the duration of the war and is still in the museum in Stuttgart, I believe.

So to this week. Mazda has always been very successful at putting its rotary engines into two seater sports cars or four seater small sedans; however, it was not successful with the rotary in a larger 5/6 seater sedan. What was the name of this vehicle?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to automania @chiangmai-mail.com

Good luck!