Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Audi S5

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 (Australian prices).

Audi S5

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 better handling.
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.

Autotrivia Quiz

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 [email protected]
Good luck!


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 in Sepang.)

Kart Racing

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!

Nissan OneOne

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 shape.
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 degree movement.
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.