Audi has released the S5 sports coupe, a “poor
man’s” R8. The S5/A5 range will eventually swell to a total of six
models including three different engines, three transmissions and a
retail price list that spreads between $70,000 and $131,900
The S5/A5 is based on an all-new platform that will be picked up by
the next generation A4 and is designed to allow for much sportier
handling than the brand has been known for, helping it take up the
fight with German rival BMW. The S5/A5 goes head to head with the
BMW 3 Series coupe and the Mercedes-Benz CLK.
To assist in the good on-road behavior, the steering rack has been
moved forward of the front axle for improved dynamics. Audi has also
given the S5/A5 an optimum wheelbase of 2751 mm and has wide wheel
tracks, with short front and rear overhangs, also contributing to
Audi describes the new coupe as a long-distance tourer with four
comfortable seats and a boot with a relatively practical cargo
volume of 455 liters.
The S5 is powered by a direct-injection 4.2 liter V8 that pumps out
260 kW of power and 440 Nm of torque. This engine combines with a
six-speed manual transmission. It puts the power down to ground
using Audi’s quattro AWD system, which is set up to deliver 60
percent of power to the rear. The S5 goes from rest to 100 km/h in
just 5.1 seconds, which is quick, but without being neck-snapping.
The S5 runs firmer sports suspension and sits on 18 inch alloy
wheels. Other standard features include Xenon directional headlights
with an LED strip for daytime running, electrically adjustable
sports seats, three-zone climate control, DVD-based satellite
navigation and Bluetooth phone preparation.
The A5’s run the 3.2 liter V6 direct injection petrol engine that
produces 195 kW and 330 Nm. The first A5’s will be front-drive
models using the continuously variable automatic transmission that
Audi calls Multitronic. An A5 using the same engine with quattro AWD
system and the dual-clutch Tiptronic automatic will be released
later. A turbocharged 1.8 liter direct-injection four cylinder with
125 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque will also be available. The
final engine will be the high performance 3.0 liter turbo-diesel V6,
which delivers 176 kW of power and an impressive 500 Nm of torque,
remembering that diesel engines always deliver more torque per cubic
capacity than petrol.
Last week I wrote that Dr. Porsche’s peoples car was one of
the success stories of the automotive world, though it was not the Germans who
made it so successful. I want to know what was the car’s original name?
The correct answer was the KdF (Kraft durch Freude or Strength through joy)
which was the slogan of the National Socialist Labour Front. After WWII, it was
the British who got the factory up and rolling, seeing that this was a way to
get Germans back into a civilian workforce.
So to this week. The first Citroen 2CVs came in one color only. What was it? And
it wasn’t black!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
24 Hours - it’s a hard day’s night!
A 24 hour kart race was held at the Bira Kart track a couple of
weeks ago. You are forgiven if you didn’t know it was on. The ‘promoters’
kept it as one of Thailand’s close secrets!
One person who did know was Thomas Raldorf, a past Danish and Thailand
GoKart champion, who was invited to join the Vassili team, sponsored by
“Naraya”, for this year’s event.
In 24 hours, anything can happen, and Thomas Raldorf found that out, going
from leading at one stage, to finally finish up ninth. I was kept in
constant touch with the Vassili team’s fortunes through the wonders of
mobile phones and SMS, and I have edited the 24 hours below.
“It was a Le Mans style start, with drivers running across the track to
their karts. We started from 5th position, which would be good enough to get
away from most of the bumping, we thought.
“The first few rounds looked mostly like ‘an organized, single direction,
bumper car event’, 9-10 cars racing along side each other, bumping and
crashing into each other, pushing each other, etc., etc., … all struggling
to get up front. (And all forgetting that it was 24 hours and over 1000 laps
of the Bira Kart circuit yet to come.)
“During this we fell from 5th to 11th position, but with Jack Lemvard at the
wheel, he managed to fight his way back, and within a few laps, we were back
up to 3rd position. By the end of the first hour, we were leading the event,
and everything was looking good.
“By the end of the second hour, rain clouds kept moving in, and the rain
came down hard. It was very hard to see anything, and when lapping, our
number 2 driver could not see anything all, and missed the team’s signboard,
calling him in for a driver change and refueling.
“After two laps he did see it and prepared to come in for a driver change
and refuel. Suddenly we saw his kart slow down and stop about 150 meters
from the pits. He quickly jumped out of the kart, and pushed the kart all
the way through the pit area. (More time lost.)
“We had lost about 4 laps because of the fuel problem, and during the next
25 minutes, I lost one more lap to the front runners in the rain. We were at
this point, in 10th place over all.
“For the next eight hours the drivers took turns behind the wheel, and
slowly but surely brought us back up into 5th place.
“Now in the middle of the night, we chased through the dark and by 8.30 a.m.
we were back on the same lap as the 4th placed team, and at 9.30 a.m., we
passed them, and continued to pull away and were slowly gaining on the 3rd
placed team, when disaster struck again.
“A driver from another team which was 23 laps behind us, decided to try and
do a total kamikaze overtaking effort, and hit our kart, sending our kart up
over a curb, and as a result we lost the chain.
“Eventually we were pushed back into the pits, and changed driver and
changed to a spare kart. The laps ticked by and we lost a total of five laps
before we got going again, and all the night’s hard work was to no avail, as
we were back in 10th place again!
“More dramas ensued, with the replacement kart misfiring, and we had to come
in and change karts again. We were back to 9th and 49 seconds behind 8th
place. Five minutes before the end of the race we still were some 20 seconds
behind them, and we knew we had to settle for 9th place.
“At 12.00 noon Sunday we crossed the line as the 9th placed team in the 3rd
Thailand 24 Hour Kart race. To say that we were disappointed with the result
would be a big understatement, but we were very happy with the team effort
put in all the way.”
(Thank you, Thomas, who will next be racing in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the
Supercar Thailand touring car championship, which will be on the May 9, 10
Here is the Future - right now!
The future was on display in Los Angeles in November 2007. The
concept was for some auto manufacturers to show what they thought would be
the cars in 50 years time.
Motoring has already taken some incredible leaps forward in the last 50
years. In 1957, who would have predicted that computers would dominate the
automotive technology. Traction control, skid control and stability control.
Variable valve timing electronically. Drive by wire, including electric
steering. Airbags that deploy in an accident. 50 years ago people would have
laughed if you had suggested it, but here it is today. Imagine what the next
50 years will hold!
In 2057 Audi envisions a hydrogen-powered vehicle that combines artificial
intelligence with avenues of self expression as it can change its external
shape. This is obviously the ideal bank robber’s car for 2057!
GM’s effort is very imaginative. Much like the self-regulating traffic system
found in the ant, nature’s best commuter, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and
intelligence allows GM’s ANT to act independently yet communicate with other
vehicles to optimize traffic flow. All body panels are connected with
electro-active polymer actuators, allowing reconfiguration of body panels,
depending on their optimal street use. Another vehicle that will change its
Honda’s entry presented a solar-hybrid powered Honda that allows carpoolers to
take advantage of commuter lanes, share commuting costs and once near the
individual passenger’s final destinations, splits from one to four separate and
unique transportation modules. This takes the changing shape bodywork to another
level, allowing metamorphosis into four from one.
The Mazda Motonari RX uses an ‘energy form’ that non-invasively integrates the
driver with the vehicle making each indistinguishable from the other allowing
the driver to experience the road psycho-somatically, receiving electrical
stimulation to specific muscle groups. Four omni-directional wheels allow 360
The Mercedes-Benz SilverFlow utilizes micro-metallic particles that can be
arranged via magnetic fields in many different forms. This is similar to Audi’s
idea of changing exterior shapes. The vehicle can also be completely dissembled
into a mass of ferromagnetic material for easy storage, and can adapt and
transform its shape to best suit its required purpose.
Nissan OneOne is a little R2D2, because Nissan predicts that by 2057 robots have
become an integral part of our lives. OneOne (pronounced “won-won”) is
tomorrow’s live-in maid, driver and gardener, retrieving dry cleaning and
groceries, tending to the children and guided by a real time GPS network.
Toyota predicts that due to limited ground space (especially in Japan!),
vertical architectures have caused the transportation industry to create new
pathways that also explore vertical space. The vehicle is powered by pollution
with electronic dynamic driving instincts and structural adaptations to
accommodate the user’s need for space.
By 2057, VW believes the urban area will have become unimaginably dense and the
roadways have reached the point of total saturation. Volkswagen’s solution is an
advanced autonomous vehicle that dynamically adapts to minimize its footprint in
the city and its drag coefficient on the highways. The skin of the vehicle is
made of hyper-efficient solar panels that power the vehicle.
Despite the fact that the different designers from Audi, GM, Honda, Mazda,
Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen were all working independently,
there were some distinct common themes among the submitted designs. Taking the
‘most likely’ scenarios, the car of tomorrow will have omni-directional wheels,
and a body shape that will adapt to the environment (and the whim of the
driver). Electromagnetic energy will be used, and it may be solar extracted.