Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

What did we learn from the Italian Grand Prix?

Well, we learned that it is possible to pass at Monza, a circuit where the pundits all claim that passing is impossible. The usual excuses are ‘dirty air’ and ‘decreased downforce’ when following another car. So how did Hamilton manage to pass Raikkonen? And Kubica managed to pass Rosberg. Even Button managed to have a passing and repassing duel with Rosberg. These drivers stood out as willing to have a go, and F1 has been sadly in need of drivers with some tiger. Well done!
We also saw that Alonso was the class act of the weekend, pole position, race winner and fastest lap. An emphatic win. Hamilton was definitely only the bridesmaid at Monza, despite some spirited driving. However, Alonso is certainly not endearing himself to his team, by saying that the Manufacturer’s Championship does not mean as much as the Driver’s Championship. Alonso forgets very quickly that it is the ‘team’ that gets him to the front, while he continues with his FIGJAM policy. (If unsure of FIGJAM it is “Fork” I’m Good, Just Ask Me!)
After languishing at the wrong end of the timesheets all year, Honda was shaking hands with themselves with two cars in the top 10. Who cares if they were eighth and tenth! Two top 10 finishes. Will they be able to continue this breathtaking form at Spa? I doubt it.
What else did we learn? Well, with Kovalainen seventh and Fisichella twelfth, Fisi has signed his own death warrant. He will not be a Renault driver next year. With Rosberg sixth and Wurz thirteenth, Alex’s results continue to get wurzer and wurzer. He will not be a Williams driver next year. With Trulli eleventh and Ralf Schumacher fifteenth, Toyota had nothing to write home about. Ralf will not be a Toyota driver next year. He will be better signing a contract with Ssanyong. They won’t be racing in F1 next year either.
BMW continues to impress, though getting the jack stuck under Kubica’s car would have had several people on the mat in Dr Mario Theissen’s office on the Monday. 17 second pit stops are not excusable at that level.
Many drivers are using first lap skirmishes as the reasons for their poor performances. Coulthard clobbering Fisi which broke his front wing and took out the steering, resulting in a high-speed crash. Vettel crashing into Davidson, but surprisingly, Ralf kept his nose clean. Figuratively and metaphorically! Perhaps bumper bars are in order?
Let us see what Spa brings!

Autotrivia Quiz

Quiz cars

Last week I asked what Guinness Book of Records entry was beaten in the James Bond film Casino Royale? Clue: It was set by an Aston Martin DB9, dressed up as an Aston Martin DBS. It was the most number of cannon rolls, with the Aston completing seven rolls before coming to rest on its wheels again.
So to this week. Since this is the Belgian GP, a question from there. Look at this photo. It was taken at Spa. What are the cars?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!

 


Lexus LS460
The Lexus LS460 is out and they are raving about it. GoAuto from Down-under had this to say - Lexus’ flagship LS series has been reborn for a fourth time with pricing, performance, styling and refinement to unsettle the upper-luxury segment status quo.
The ground-up redesign of the LS also represents a rethink of Lexus’ flagship positioning, with the traditional single-specification V8 model - now christened LS460 - to be joined by a long-wheelbase version.

Lexus LS460

Dubbed the LS600Lh, the latter is a petrol/electric hybrid devised to recharge the moribund image of the LS to that of a technological and environmental innovator. It arrives in October, priced from around $250,000.
For now, the focus falls on the LS460, and its keen, no-options $184,900 pricing that continues the LS tradition (since 1990) of offering specification matching the German competitions’ upper-level models but at their entry-level prices.
These days, this includes Lexus’ ‘Pre-Collision’ advanced safety system, air suspension, radar cruise control, reclinable ‘premium leather’ seating with cooling and heating for all outboard seats, top-end audio, four-zone climate-control air-conditioning, and keyless entry and start.
Lexus says that equivalently equipped and powered BMW 750i and Mercedes S500 models cost between $19,600 and $69,000 more respectively, while - for LS460 money - you can only get the 200 kW/350 Nm 3.5-litre V6-powered Mercedes S350 and 225kW/390 Nm 4.0-litre V8 BMW 740i.
With a new 4.6 liter quad-cam V8 delivering 280 kW of power at 6500rpm and 493 Nm of torque at 4100rpm to the rear wheels, the LS460 also has the upper hand on engine output for the outlay.
It is married to the world’s first eight-speed automatic gearbox, a compact transmission designed to maximize fuel economy at higher speeds and launch feel at lower ones. Gearshifts are said to be virtually imperceptible, and up to 41 percent quicker than the previous six-speed automatic set-up.
Speed is an unexpected LS460 upshot - it can sprint from 0-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds, hit the standing-400 m mark in 13.8 seconds (these are very fast times - Dr. Iain) and reach a speed-restricted 250 km/h. Apparently, 280km/h has been recorded.
Conversely, the ADR 81/01 fuel economy average is 11.1 L/100 km, while its CO2 emissions result is 261 g/km. It is also extremely quiet - Lexus says a stethoscope is used to test each engine so buyers can enjoy the silence.
Aiding the numbers above is a leading drag co-efficient figure of 0.26 Cd, with reduced lift front and rear compared to its LS430 predecessor, narrower panel gaps, minimal protrusions and a flush underbody for quieter, smoother airflow.
The LS is the latest Lexus with the ‘L-finesse’ styling language also seen on the GS and IS, which, according to design chief Simon Humphries, needed to encompass more boldness “with a degree of good taste” as well as aerodynamic efficiency.
Air suspension also makes its debut in an Australian-bound Lexus, incorporating new shock absorbers and an improved Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system that automatically adjusts suspension forces at all four wheels.
It forms part of a new platform featuring a longer wheelbase and wider tracks - with the rears being the fattest among the LS’ immediate fat-cat competition.
The Lexus’ multi-link front and five-link rear arrangement includes forged aluminium components and ‘Vehicle Posture Control’ damper force control logic that uses sensors to minimize the phase difference between body roll and pitch angles during cornering via the shock absorbers.
Among many other things, AVS also helps reduce body roll by 30 percent compared to the previous LS, along with reducing diving under brakes, squatting under acceleration, and the transmission of noise, vibration and harshness into the passenger compartment.
A Normal, Sport and Comfort switch next to the gearlever alters the damping force for flat, firmer (by 20 percent) or softer respective responses from the suspension.
The LS460’s steering is an electronically powered set-up that, along with the front suspension’s geometry, has been redesigned for better feel, ride and handling characteristics.
Mounted forward of the front axle centers, Lexus claims the steering has a more natural feel, is more adept on rough roads, less likely to vibrate, and is more prompt in response to input.
A variable steering gear ratio is also incorporated, which quickens the direction of change at low-speed steering inputs, and decreases it as vehicle speeds rise, for a less nervous and less fidgety steering feel. Turns vary from 2.4 to 3.5 revolutions.
The driver is ensconced in a cabin that offers independent temperature adjustment as part of the four-zone climate control operation for all outboard occupants. It uses 13 sensors for optimal conditioning, and includes a permanent pollen and dust-removal mode.
Entry is via a sub-credit card-sized ‘Smart Card’ that boasts several driver-specific seat and steering wheel positioning settings.
The aforementioned Pre-Collision safety System (PCS), cribbed from the GS and some IS models, recognizes potential dangers in advance according to deceleration and sudden driver inputs by “preparing” the brakes, seatbelts and dampers.
PCS joins another Lexus safety acronym: VDiM, or Vehicle Dynamics integrated Management. The latter works with the LS460’s anti-lock brakes, brake assist function, electronic brake-force distribution, traction control and VSC stability control - as well as the AVS suspension, electric power steering and variable steering system - to simultaneously help keep the LS under control and on the right trajectory, instead of relying on individual components like the VSC to work independently.
The aim is to also reduce response times, or to keep progress as smooth as possible, since VDiM can integrate each item as needed.
Ten airbags - including new rear-seat side airbags - also offer improved impact protection, while the body’s 30 per cent increase in torsional stiffness has prompted Lexus to claim another “best in class”.
Lexus says that it has redoubled its efforts as far as cabin quality and craftsmanship is concerned, with the aim being to combine highly automated assembly with a custom-made effect.
“Function with emotion” is how the LS’ chief engineer, Moritaka Yoshida, put it. He went through every process of the production process to achieve this.
Expect a long-wheelbase LS460L before too long, as well as a short-wheelbase LS600h hybrid further along the line, to bring the LS line-up to at least four.