BMW goes for the double puffer
BMW has revealed a potent new twin-turbo inline six that
delivers 225 kW of power and a grunty 400 Nm of torque. The world debut was on
February 28, just before the Geneva Motor Show.
Widely rumored for some time as an effective way for BMW to
bridge the gap between its famed magnesiumalloy inline six-cylinder engine
family and the Bavarian marque’s base 4.0 liter V 8, this new engine should
fit the bill very well.
turbo BMW 6
At this stage, BMW has not said which models will get the
twin-turbo engine, but inside sources suggest the all-aluminium (not magnesium)
six to power the forthcoming E92 3 Series coupe in a new 335Ci-badged variant,
the 5 Series sedan (in which it should
revive the 535i nameplate) and possibly the 6 Series coupe/convertible and 7
However, the next M3 remains odds-on to be powered by a
high-performance 4.0 litre V8 derived from the M5/M6’s massively powerful 373
kW 5.0 liter V 10.
The biturbo six employs new technologies such as two
low-inertia turbos feeding a trio of cylinders each which it is claimed will
eliminate turbo lag.
The new engine features the double-VANOS and VALVETRONIC
valve actuation systems from its existing engines, but the addition of direct
injection from the 760 Li’s 6.0 liter V 12 is claimed to reduce fuel
consumption by a further 10 percent. The result is the same 225 kW peak power
output as offered by the 740i and 540’s 4.0 liter V8 – which weighs 70kg
After extolling the virtues of naturally aspirated engines for two decades
– the last one was the turbocharged 185 kW 3.2 liter straight six,
discontinued in 1986, BMW appears to have gone the full circle. “Now BMW is
ready to open a new chapter in turbocharged petrol-engined road cars and reset
the benchmark for dynamic driving with forced-induction,” says BMW.
Safety – whose responsibility?
Vehicular safety is an integral part of the automotive
business these days, and with the publication many years ago of the book,
“Unsafe at Any Speed” by Ralph Nader and the following up and hounding of
the auto industry by Nader’s Raiders, there is no manufacturer who is not
aware of the safety factor. Most countries have either testing facilities, or
rely on results from national testing organizations, to even allow production
vehicles to be registered in that country. Numerous vehicles have been
sacrificed to the immovable concrete block, in the quest of safety.
On the surface, it would seem that the legislators have
decreed that it is the manufacturer who has to carry the responsibility.
However, I believe the end user should also shoulder some of the responsibility,
or even blame, for road fatalities.
For example, read a BMW handbook, where it will go in to
detail to explain their version of electronic skid control, braking control and
aids to road-holding, with all the very latest electronic gizmos and gadgetry to
assist the driver stay on the bitumen; however, right at the end the driver’s
manual will point out that despite all the electro-trickery, physical laws still
have to be obeyed. If the corner can be taken at 60 kmh and you enter it at 120
kmh, centrifugal force will overcome ESC, ABS and all the other acronyms that
the manufacturer can throw at the car. And centrifugal force is that physical
law which must be obeyed. Yet surprisingly, when you stop to think about it,
that physical law called centrifugal force is actually under the control of the
driver. The entry speed is controlled by the human being, not by the
manufacturer. The end user must take the ultimate responsibility!
The vexed question of drink driving comes in here too. We
know that alcohol is involved in many car accidents, injuries and fatalities,
and there are many “Don’t drink and Drive” promotions all over the world,
but the simple fact is that the human element falls down at the last minute.
Drunk people have lost their sense of judgment, so it should not come as a
surprise that drivers make the wrong decision and get into their cars to drive
The manufacturers have undoubtedly given us safer cars to
drive home drunk in, but that is about it. Here’s your padded box, it has no
sharp edges, it’s got airbags so you won’t hit the dashboard, even though
you forgot to wear your seat belt, the doors won’t fly open, it won’t catch
fire, the glass won’t slash you to ribbons and many other secondary safety
features, but what is better – an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, or a
fence at the top of the cliff? Preventive features win every time, in my book.
International statistics also show that youngsters are
clearly over-represented in car accidents, even taking into account that many of
them are behind the wheel more often than their older counterparts. The risk of
18 to 25 year olds being involved in an accident is more than twice that of
people aged between 26 and 50, according to EU statistics. The accidents often
result from high speed combined with inadequate experience. Some younger folk
might disagree, but the statistics have been up there long enough now. As
pointed out earlier in this article, despite all the technology, physical laws
have to be obeyed.
If speed is a factor, combined with inexperience, just how do
we get drivers, and young drivers in particular, to slow down when driving the
family car? One answer, according to Volvo, is a special ignition key. This key
can be programmed to limit the car’s speed to a predetermined limit such as 80
kmh. At least Junior hits his tree at a slower speed, so, if (big IF) he wears
his seat, he will survive.
Ultimately, we all have to take responsibility for ourselves. Despite all
legislations, the car manufacturer cannot take it for you.
Last week I asked from which country did the mechanicals for
the first Morris Cowleys (1915-1919) come? This one was easy! The answer was
America! Engines by Continental, gearboxes, drive units and axles were also all
imported. “British” Morris Cowleys were not made until 1920.
So to this week. What cars had four reverse gear speeds? (And
the answer is not Italian)!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
Eff Wun begins March 12
Next weekend we shall see just how ready the eleven teams are
for the start of the 2006 season. Already it can be seen from the times recorded
in pre-season testing that you can forget about seeing any driver from Midland
F1, Squadro Tosso Rora (oops, Squadro Rosso Toro) or Super Aguri on the podium,
unless they are handing out trophies down to 18th place
this year. Yuji Ide, the second string driver for Super Aguri is currently
something like nine seconds a lap off the pace. He will be lucky to qualify if
he does not pick up his pace.
For many, the big question will be whether Ferrari can do
better than their abysmal 2005 year. Looking at the times being recorded so far,
the new Ferrari seems neither fast, nor reliable, but reports coming from Europe
say that Michael Schumacher is not despondent (yet).
Michael Schumacher insists Ferrari is better placed to win
back their World Championships than they were to defend them 12 months ago. This
was after testing in Bahrain since last week and despite reliability problems on
the new Ferrari, he left Sakhir in positive mood.
Schumacher is confident of an improvement, telling his
personal website, “Our lap-times were really encouraging, especially on Monday
and the day before. And we’ll have time at Mugello to take care of the rest.
When we come back here (Bahrain) for the race, we should know all the basics
there are to know about choice of tyres, set-up and about the new engine.
That’s not bad, although it shouldn’t be over-rated, either. It looks as
though we’ve got a better package this year than we did last year and we’re
all ready to compete.”
He did admit, “Of course the tests did not run 100 percent
smoothly, but that’s what most teams are dealing with, and that’s to be
expected at this time of year.”
At this stage, it looks as if the two front-runners are Renault (bullet-proof
reliability again so far) and McLaren, but like last year, a big question mark
over reliability. Honda is in there too, with Button outpacing Barichello so far
in testing. Williams had one day of brilliance and nothing but problems since
then, while BMW and Red Bull seem like mid-field runners at best, along with