Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Inside running by Citroen

Citroen is preparing to launch a new small luxury car in 2010 as it looks to move up market and take on small cars from Audi, BMW and Alfa Romeo.
The DS Inside concept car will make its public debut at next month’s Geneva motor show as a forerunner to a production version to be launched at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show towards the end of this year.

Citroen DS Inside

The car, based on the same platform as the current C3, will be the first of three new Citroen DS cars, with C4 and C5-based versions to follow in 2011. European websites are speculating that up to six models are on the drawing board for release in the next three years.
The new car line marks the revival of the legendary DS badge of the fifties and heralds an image revamp for the 90 year old auto maker.
The presumed stimulus to build this new line is to attract customers who want to downsize, but still keep a high level of creature comforts.
BMW, Audi and Alfa Romeo all have small cars either on the drawing board or in production. BMW is looking at a city car to sit beneath its current Mini Cooper, while Audi has the A1 and Alfa Romeo the MiTo.
While the DS concept car is a three-door, the production version will be a five door powered by diesel, petrol and eventually hybrid engines. Engine choices will include a 1.4 liter diesel and the 1.4 liter turbo engine developed in conjunction with BMW used in the Mini Cooper S.
The original DS was meant to be a play on the French word for goddess, but Citroen says the new badge stands for “Different Spirit”.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned the Lotus S7’s. I asked when did Colin Chapman make the first Lotus? The answer was not 1957, as that was the Lotus 7. The first Lotus, an Austin based special was built in 1948 and the first Lotus victory was in 1950 with the Lotus 2.
So to this week. Which F1 driver broke the lap record nine times in ten laps? And when and where?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!

 


A Mini SUV or a Maxi-Mini?
BMW have announced a Mini version of an all-wheel-drive SUV, which will make it one of the world’s smallest crossovers.
Still without a production release name, it is likely to go on sale in Europe and the United States late next year.
It had been tipped that the Mini SUV would be shown at the Geneva motor show in March, but Mini is denying this. This will be the first Mini not to be built at its traditional home in Oxford, England. Instead it will come off the same production line as the existing BMW X3 at the Magna Steyr plant in Austria.
The X3 will soon shift to Spartanburg to make way for the Mini crossover which will be built on an all new and larger 4.1 meter platform. It had been tipped Mini would use BMWs new X1 platform but Mini insiders say this has been discounted as not practical.
The crossover will use a modified version of BMW’s full time xDrive system which proportions drive between front and rear axles. Mini engineers have had to convert it from having a rear wheel drive bias as in BMWs X3 and X5 to fit Mini’s primarily front wheel drive layout.
Andreas Hofmann, the head of Mini’s marketing communications said the engine range is expected to match those of the existing Mini line-up but a diesel was more than likely for selected markets, including Australia.
Production costs will mean the crossover will come as a conventional four-door wagon which is cheaper to build, although the design of the tailgate whether a single door, two barn doors or a split lift up, drop down design still has to be signed off.


Tech specs for Red Bull’s RB5
Australian Mark Webber and Germany’s new young driver Sebastien Vettel are pinning their F1 hopes on the new Red Bull 2009 challenger, the RB5. This F1 car has come from the drawing board of famed designer Adrian Newey.
The chassis is a composite monocoque structure, designed and built in-house, carrying a Renault V8 engine as a fully stressed member.
Transmission: Seven speed gearbox, longitudinally mounted with hydraulic system for power shift and clutch operation and using an AP Racing clutch.
Suspension: Front: Aluminium alloy uprights, carbon-composite double wishbone with torsion bar springs and anti-roll bars, Multimatic dampers. Rear: Aluminium alloy uprights, carbon-composite double wishbone with torsion bar springs and anti-roll bars, Multimatic dampers.
Wheels: OZ Racing, Front: 12.7 inch x 13 inch, Rear: 13.4 inch x 13 inch.
Brakes: Brembo calipers, Brembo carbon discs and pads.
Engine - Renault RS27
Capacity: 2400cc
Max rpm: 18,000
Cylinders: 8
Power output: Not disclosed
Number of valves: 32
Vee Angle: 90 degrees
Construction: Cylinder block in cast aluminium
Engine management: FIA (MESL) standard control unit TAG310B
Fuel: Total Group
Oil: Total Group
Weight: FIA minimum weight for engine of 95 kg
Electronics: FIA (MESL) standard control unit


Bob Lutz, the GM guru steps down
General Motors respected product boss Bob Lutz will step down from his corporate role in April. Lutz has spent 46 years in the industry, working for GM, Chrysler, Ford and BMW.
Lutz is credited with reinvigorating GM’s vehicle range when he re-joined the company in 2001 after a long stint at the helm of rival Chrysler, which ended in 1998. While at Chrysler, he built a reputation for delivering exciting and innovative vehicles, including the Dodge Viper. Lutz was a true ‘car man’.
He is famously quoted as saying that global warming was a “total crock of shit” (I agree); however, he has been a great proponent of GM’s Chevrolet Volt low emission plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Lutz started his career at GM in the sixties, moved to BMW in 1972, sat on Ford’s board of directors, and moved to then-ailing Chrysler in 1986.

Bob Lutz and Chevrolet Volt


The best drivers are in F1
It is often thought that the best drivers are in F1, having made it through the ranks of the minor formulae to make it to the top. Whilst there are some very good drivers in the top echelon, there is another factor as well as talent. And that is money.
Interesting to read the words of Takuma Sato’s manager, after Taku lost the last race seat (Toro Rosso) to Sebastien Bourdais. “Taku had showed tremendous speed and commitment during the three tests he did for the team and I believe he proved to be the faster driver. Unfortunately, however, the team made no secret about the fact that they would need the driver to bring a substantial amount of funding to the team to secure the drive.”
There are some drivers this year who have ‘bought’ their race seat, and I believe that one of those is at Renault. I’ll leave you to work out whom.


Bangle’s Beemer
BMW, Chris Bangle, has finally left the building. Polarizing the auto styling world with his (in)famous ‘Bangle Bottom’ which was introduced on the 7-Series and then flowed down to the 6, 5 and 3-Series, the reaction from BMW owners was a website dedicated to getting rid of both the bottom and the designer. I have to say that I was not a fan of the styling either, but like most things, you get used to it in the end. However, the Bangle designs have never been beautiful like Henrik Fisker’s Aston Martin DB 9, for example. Head of BMW Design has now gone to Adrian van Hooydonk, Bangle’s right-hand man for 17 years.

Chris Bangle

BMW, with their usual disregard for the voice of their customer base - has refused to admit that Bangle’s styling has been unpopular, but they have gradually toned it down, perhaps hoping that we hadn’t noticed!
(Another example of BMW’s attitude is the despised “iDrive”, with a sample of a blog saying, “All auto journalists talk about it. They all complain about it. It’s the dreaded iDrive, BMW’s electronic interface that controls virtually every aspect of the company’s vehicles through a central knob and display screen. It also drives most of us nuts for one reason or another.” So what did BMW do? Rather than admit that it wasn’t a great idea, they progressively modified it, but even now on its fourth incarnation, it still makes driving a BMW far more difficult than it needs to be.)

The last
Bangle Bottom

The official notification of Bangle’s departure was issued by BMW in a press release stating “Christopher Bangle has had a lasting impact on the identity of BMW Group’s brands (you can say that again). His contribution to the company’s success has been decisive, and together with his teams he has mapped out a clear and aesthetic route into the future,” said Dr Klaus Draeger, BMW AG’s Board Member for Development.
Born in the USA, Christopher Bangle, aged 52, has been head of BMW Group Design Development since October 1992. After studying at the University of Wisconsin and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, he began his working life in Rüsselsheim, where he worked for Adam Opel AG. In 1985 he joined FIAT, where he became director of the FIAT Centro Stile in 1992. Shortly afterwards he left the Italian automaker to come to Munich. (And not long after that we got the Bangle Bottom.)


Green Life on Wheels

Bangkok International Motor Show

In line with the general direction of the motor car industry, the 30th Bangkok International Motor Show has ‘Green Life on Wheels’ as the theme for this year’s show.
The show will run from March 26 until April 6, but the first two days are usually reserved for media and VIPs.
The motor show will be held as usual at the BITEC exhibition halls at Km 1 Bangna and despite the downturn in the automotive production, organizers Grand Prix International expect that the industry will be there in numbers to support the Thai economy.