Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

A new E-Class is coming

The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is for world-wide release in 2009, and ‘teaser’ photographs have been released on the internet to stimulate interest in this new car, which will be placed against the BMW 5 Series in the marketplace.

New E-Class Benz

In line with most manufacturers these days, corporate styling is used to identify the brand. Look at the new Honda Accord and the new Honda City, for example. The City is a scaled down version of its big brother.
The new E-Class sedan is adopting edgier styling that follows design cues of the bigger S-Class and smaller C-Class.
The new E-Class sedan - codenamed W212 internally - adopts a sharper look than its predecessor. It swaps the outgoing model’s distinctive quad circular headlights for two-piece rectangular units, while the flanks look deeper and feature two rising character lines.
Mercedes designers have added extra visual muscle to the wheel-arches that surround the rear wheels. At the rear, the edgy design theme is maintained with rectangular-shaped tail-lights and dual exhaust pipes.
The new E-Class will be offered with two different front ends, just like the current C-Class. Elegance models are expected to feature a raised three-pointed-star badge on the bonnet in Mercedes sedan tradition, while Avant-garde versions will incorporate the Benz badge within the grille.
This new car - offering more interior space thanks to increases in all key dimensions - will make its public debut at the 2009 Geneva motor show next March following a media reveal prior to January’s Detroit show.

Rear end styling for new E-Class

The German car maker has already declared that the new E-Class will be the safest car in its class, with about a dozen new or improved driver assistance systems.
A new feature is a fatigue monitoring system called Attention Assist, which alerts the driver audibly and visually if it detects a change in established driving behavior. Infra-red night vision and lane-departure warning systems are also to be included as standard or options depending on the model.
The new E-Class will again be offered with a range of V6 and V8 engines running on either petrol or diesel and mated to a seven-speed automatic.
At least half of the engines will feature direct fuel injection technology, and Mercedes says, “Intelligent energy management and a raft of other measures will make the new E-Class consume far less fuel than its predecessor.”
The range will once again include an E63 AMG model, with a 6.2 liter V8 expected to deliver 386 kW. A Black Series E-Class with even more power is also rumored, though Mercedes’ high-performance badge may be applied to the new coupe version rather than the sedan.
Mercedes’ most environmentally friendly E-Class will be a new diesel hybrid model due in 2010. Fitted with a 560 Nm 2.2 liter Bluetec turbo diesel engine, the E-Class hybrid is set to use just 5.1 liters per 100 km and emit only 134 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometer. Those fuel consumption figures are around the Honda Jazz level of superb economy, in a vehicle many times the size of the Jazz.
A new E-Class coupe - based on the Concept Fascination from the 2008 Paris motor show - will join the new sedan later in the year.
I don’t know how many of you spotted the advertisements for the current E-Class, with Mercedes-Benz offering zero percent interest terms over 60 months. Perhaps I should trade the Daihatsu Mira?

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked at what university did Henry Ford 1 study engineering? The correct answer was ‘none’. Henry Ford 1 was a self-taught engineer.
So to this week. Honda has pulled out of F1. What other Japanese companies have just pulled out of international level motor sport?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!

 


Things are grim, but not that grim at VW
Latest reports indicate that the Volkswagen Group delivered 5.73 million vehicles from January to November in 2008. Those are world-wide figures, and this puts VW among the few automakers this year who have matched or even slightly exceeded last year’s delivery figures.
However, the last month showed a 16.5 percent fall compared to November 2007, but with the industry overall being down 24.5 percent, VW are certainly not doing too bad.
Detlef Wittig, executive vice president group sales and marketing said, “The Volkswagen Group held its own well in the first three quarters of this year as overall market demand continued to weaken. The slump on the world market in the fourth quarter is really putting us to the test, but we have still grown market share even though vehicles sales are falling.”
Volkswagen Passenger Cars, the Group’s highest-volume brand, delivered 3.37 million vehicles (+0.2 percent) to customers worldwide from January to November 2008, of which 482,000 vehicles (+1.5 percent) were delivered in Germany.
However, there has also been a sharp decline in momentum on what have to date been growth markets. Nevertheless, development in Volkswagen Group deliveries during the first eleven months of the year was positive. In Brazil, the Group delivered 591,800 vehicles from January to November, an increase of 11.9 percent. In China, too, the Group reported good growth of 10.1 percent during this period, with deliveries totaling 931,100 units. There was significant growth in Russia, where deliveries rose 61.6 percent to 118,300 units and India, where deliveries increased by 59.7 percent to 17,700 vehicles. Thailand sales have remained numerically very small, however.


Honda Racing Fest finale at Bira
Despite the parent Honda Corporation having withdrawn from the F1 circus, Honda Thailand is continuing next year with its very popular Honda Racing Fest series, with its Jazz, Civic and Pro Cup categories. These are always very closely contested, sometimes a little too close as Jack Lemvard found out in the final of the Civic series.

When push comes to shove (Photo Alan Coates)

Despite only having to finish fifth to clinch the title, he allowed himself to become involved in fender benders, and was lucky to finish in third place, and in so doing did secure the title for 2008. Jack has yet to learn that if you leave the door half open, someone will drive through it, like Narasak in the photo.
The Honda Pro Cup B championship is under investigation following an appeal by local driver Thomas Raldorf, who was given the championship win on points gained over the year, but was then told that there had been a mistake in addition early on in the year, which was only discovered on the afternoon of the final race, and he was demoted to second in class. Hmmm!


Put your order in for a BYD
That’s not BVD jocks, (by the way, BVD stands for Bradley, Voorhees and Day, the New York City firm that initially manufactured underwear of this name for both men and women) but is BYD, a Chinese automaker.

BYD F3

BYD have produced the BYD F3 DM, which is a plug-in hybrid, and has beaten the world’s car manufacturers to produce the first mass-produced plug-in, by a sizeable margin. That includes GM’s Chev Volt and Toyota and Renault-Nissan, whose plug-ins will not be available till 2010 and 2012.
This new BYD can run for 100 km on battery power alone and takes seven hours to recharge overnight from the home wall socket. It has a secondary petrol engine as a back-up if you are going more than 100 km between plugs. That is where the DM comes in - dual mode.
The BYD is also about 40 percent cheaper than the Toyota Prius hybrid (which is not a plug-in) in China. BYD is also China’s largest manufacturer of rechargeable batteries, so it probably is in the right arena to produce plug-ins.
As China is the knock-off capital of the world, take another look at the BYD photo. Does that not look a lot like the previous model Toyota Corolla Altis?


New Volvo S60 avoids pedestrians
Volvo will unveil the new S60 Concept at next month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, with the production version touted as being very close to the concept.

New Volvo S60

Both the concept and the production vehicle are the work of company design director Steve Mattin, who is also responsible for the soon-to-be-released XC60. All three vehicles share the same EUCD platform that also underpins the XC70, V70 and S80 models in Volvo’s portfolio.
According to the blurb, “The interior expresses a typically Scandinavian feel: fresh, light and airy. In the middle of the four-seater car glitters the jewel in the crown - a floating centre stack crafted from handmade, solid Orrefors crystal. It floats like a gentle, calm wave from the instrument panel all the way to the rear seat backrest,” Mr Mattin stated.
The S60 Concept’s job does not stop there, as it also ushers in future preventative safety technology such as Volvo’s ‘Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake’ function that stomps on the brakes if the driver is too slow to do so.
A radar and camera mounted in the grille area monitor the distance ahead and work in conjunction to confirm that there is an object in the way before applying full-force braking if required. That object can be a pedestrian, and it is tipped that this feature will also make it into production.
The radar also works in conjunction with an updated Adaptive Cruise Control system that now works in slow-moving queues that often result in repeated starting and stopping. The previous set-up deactivate below 30 km/h.
On the subject of motion, the S60 Concept also introduces Volvo’s new 1.6-litre GTDi technology. It is a petrol-powered direct-injection four-cylinder turbo unit that delivers 134 kW of power while returning 5.0 liters per 100 kilometers and 119 grams of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometer.
Volvo says using direct-injection results in around a 20 percent cut in petrol use and pollution over a similarly sized engine. Expect the next-generation S40/V50 models, as well as the C30 and its derivatives, to be the first recipients of the GTDi technology from later in 2010.
Other high-tech features in the S60 Concept include a head-up display for the instrumentation, increased connectivity and connection via the steering wheel controls, and Volvo’s Blind Spot Information System to make it into the production S60.