Audi at the border
A friend of mine in Bangkok, Andrew Wood, known for his
wicked sense of humour, sent this down last week. I thought it was good enough
Five Germans in an Audi Quattro arrive at the Italian border.
The Italian Customs Officer stops them and tells them “It’sa illegal-a to
put-a five-a people in a Quattro.”
“Vot do you mean dis is illegal?” replied the German
“Quattro means-a four” said the Italian official.
“Quattro is just ze name of ze automobile,” the Germans
retorted unbelievingly. “Look at ze dam papers. Zis car is designed to karry
“You canta pulla that-a one on me!” replied the Italian
customs officer. “Quattro means-a four. You have five-a people in-a your car
and you are therefore-a breaking the law.”
The German driver replied angrily, “Dumkopf! Call your
zupervisor over. I vant to speak to someone mit more intelligence!”
“Scuzzi?” responded the Italian officer, “He can’ta come. He’s-a
busy with-a two guys in a Fiat Uno.”
New 3 Series BMW just around the corner
The new BMW 3 Series (the E 90) was displayed at the Bangkok
International Motor Show in March this year, and it is scheduled to be released
later this year. Still not available for testing, but some models got to
Australia for assessment, and I present the following which comes from GoAuto
down-under. This comes in the main from their tester Marton Pettendy.
“Despite the panning BMW’s current, E46 3 Series received
in 1998 for being too big, too heavy and lacking the dynamic attitude of its E36
forbear, the current Three went on to become the most popular ever.
New 3 Series
“So it would have been easy for BMW to rest on its laurels,
wrap the E90 in a new set of metal clothes, bolt in a new engine and extra
technology from more expensive models in the range and ship it out to showrooms.
(However, that is an oversimplification of the real situation - Dr. Iain.)
“The E90 is much more than its relatively conservative
exterior suggests. First, the all-new bodyshell is 25 per cent stiffer - no mean
feat given the current model feels as solid as any BMW - which plays no small
part in the new model’s even greater impression of refinement and quality.
“Slightly larger in all key areas, BMW’s new compact
sedan is a little more comfortable for taller occupants - especially those
residing out back, where 3 Series remains the small premium sedan benchmark for
“The fact all this extra interior space and body rigidity
comes with no weight penalty is commendable, and shows BMW listened to the
criticism levelled at its predecessor. It also allows the substantial gains
achieved in the area of engine performance to be maximized in terms of
real-world acceleration and fuel consumption.
“In 3.0 litre 330i guise, however, the new magnesium-alloy
R6-series engine is a cracker. With an extra 20kW of peak power on tap thanks to
its 7000rpm redline, it feel substantially quicker in a straight line, while the
standard six-speed auto does an even better job at ensuring instant, satisfying
acceleration is always at hand.
“That fuel consumption remains a relatively frugal 9.0
litres per 100km (interestingly, the same figure quoted for the 325i auto!) is
also highly commendable.
“So while the new 330i is substantially quicker thanks to
more horsepower at higher revs, it’s only marginally more tractable in
everyday driving because of its superb new six-speed auto. And while that’s a
positive, the apparent loss of some of the previous 3.0-litre engine’s
characteristic exhaust and induction ‘bark’ is most certainly not. The 330i
auto’s 6.6-second claimed 0-100km/h acceleration figure is impressive.
“Of course, BMW’s 3 Series volume-seller will be the 320i
Executive, powered by the same 110kW/200Nm four-cylinder, which in E90 guise
gains 5kW of peak power over the 318i it replaces and benefits in terms of
flexibility from Valvetronic and double-VANOS valve control systems.
“Ride quality on the base model’s 205/55 16-inch tyres
was exceptionally supple, increasing to firm on the lower-profile alloy-shod
tyres and bordering on harsh on 17s with optional sports suspension.
“Of course, the availability of upstream options like
active steering and keyless starting is a boon for 3 Series buyers, but
there’s no sign of the 7 Series’ electronic park brake and we can’t help
thinking the start/stop button is a gimmick that will soon wear out its welcome.
“We lament the loss of a spare tyre in a country like
Australia - but minor details like the greatly improved dual-zone climate
control, temperature adjusters for rear air outlets and improved DSC (with a
host of useful brake technology advances) make this easier to bear.
“While we’re not convinced E90 is as big an advance over
its predecessor as the E46 was over E36, it’s clear BMW has spent its
development dollars where it counts most. Roomier, more refined, more powerful
and safer without sacrificing handling, weight, driveability or fuel economy,
the new 3 Series has advanced enough in the critical areas to remain the best
premium compact sedan available.”
(I think we can deduce from that brief report, that the
tester liked it! Dr. Iain.)
Mitsubishi still in deep doggy doo
According to Auto News in the US, Mitsubishi Motors recorded
$5.8 billion in losses for the fiscal year ended March 31, its second straight
year in the red. Their report said that as the scandal-ridden Japanese carmaker
struggles to regain customer trust and sales, the company stated that
Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Motors Corp had racked up a Y215 billion ($2.64 billion)
loss the previous fiscal year.
This has all come on the back of Mitsubishi Motors sales
having plunged after it acknowledged five years ago that it had systematically
hidden car defects to avoid recalls.
To attempt to stop the sales slide, Mitsubishi have tried
shoring up sales with attractive revival plans, centring on warranty and finance
(a 10 year warranty in Australia, for example, and extending loans to buyers
with bad credit in the United States). Despite these, Mitsubishi Motors does not
see itself returning to profitability in the next year, forecasting Y64 billion
loss for the fiscal year to March 2006.
Mitsubishi has earlier this year hoped that DaimlerChrysler
(one of the shareholders) would bail them out, but the Germans turned their
corporate back on the struggling Japanese company.
Mitsubishi Motors has recently announced minor deals with
other companies to help its latest recovery plan, including a deal to supply
SUV’s for French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen, and another to supply small
cars for Nissan Motor Co, their Japanese rival.
This is an unfortunate result of head office duplicity, as the Mitsubishi
cars are just as good as those from other manufacturers. An expensive lesson
that Mitsubishi will take years to recover from.
Last week, I asked what company was the first European
company to deliver more than one million cars in one year, which it did in 1962,
40 years after Ford had managed that milestone! It was in fact VW, as many of
the readers knew. Thank you all, there were so many of you I cannot acknowledge
So to this week. What was the name of the concept car that
Ford engineers took to Watkins Glen in 1962? Clue: it was a two seater and mid
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]