Porsche going back
to four cylinders?
Porsche is in trouble. After failing to take
control of VW, after taking out loans to finance the hoped-for
purchase, it is now attempting to win the green vote by adopting a
four-cylinder engine that could bring lower fuel economy and
emissions for the Porsche Boxster and its hard-top sibling, the
This engine would be sourced from VW, and though not officially
confirmed, it has not been officially denied. Leaked information
suggests it is more than likely, backing up comments from a Porsche
Speaking at the launch of the Panorama - their four-door coupe that
gives Porsche the biggest, most expansive (and expensive) model
range ever - board member Klaus Berning hinted that more economical
versions of the Boxster and Cayman were on the way.
“Clearly there is a trend to downsizing,” he said. “We have to do
everything possible within the brand limits to lower CO2 (carbon
dioxide) emissions. A four-cylinder brings a lot of efficiency, so I
will not exclude that, but if you ask me did we already decide one,
no.” However, when further pushed, he said, “Never say never.”
This is the company which flatly denied it would ever bring out a
diesel, but this year released an oil-burning diesel Cayenne, the
most ridiculous SUV ever made.
That Porsche should fit a VW four cylinder is nothing new, with the
early 356 and 912 series having VW fours. Later the 914, 924, 944
and 968 had four cylinder engines as well.
Berning admitted the engine could be one shared with another brand,
likely one sourced from the Volkswagen Group with which it has a
technical collaboration. It would likely use a turbocharger as used
on the Volkswagen Golf GTI and other vehicles from the
The move would reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions
in line with Porsche’s push to reduce its environmental footprint.
But do tree huggers buy Porsche’s, that’s the question left
Last week I asked what did the first Cooper 500 have to do with Fiat Topolino’s?
I also said this was the start of the rear engine revolution. The gearbox, by
the way, was a Triumph 500 cc motorcycle unit. Of course there were rear-engined
racing cars before the Cooper, such as the Auto Unions pre war, but these were
purely factory cars; you couldn’t buy one. The Cooper 500 you could. The engine
for the first one was a speedway JAP, but the front and rear suspensions were
made from the Topolino front suspensions. That was the connection.
So to this week. A 24 liter 12 cylinder engine was used to garner several world
speed records, with the cylinders arranged in three banks of four, known as a
‘broad arrow’ configuration. I want to know the engine, the car it was in, and
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Chevrolet Cruze - coming to/from Thailand?
The new Chevrolet Cruze may just work out to be GM’s answer in the
current crisis. Built on the German Opel-designed Delta II front-wheel drive
architecture it is generally thought of as a Korean vehicle, just like the
The car is almost 4.6 meters long, 1.8 m wide and 1.48 m tall, and has a 2685 mm
wheelbase. It is not a small car, but best described as mid-sized.
Those who have seen this vehicle all say that the styling is a little different,
but it grows on you, and the interior is excellent.
The body shell features triple-layered door seals, felt window inserts,
extensive use of dampening material, and single-unit upper body structure and
frame. The dashboard design is attractive, functional and well made.
Recessed inside a chrome-trimmed binnacle is a set of instruments that are both
smartly scripted (in cool Speed Racer-style font) and incredibly easy to read.
They enclose a duo of dials (fuel and temperature) as well as an LED display for
the odometer and trip computer readouts. They are all illuminated in a cool jade
All the switches and controls on the dash and steering wheel are clearly marked,
large enough to use without being an eyes-off-the-road distraction, and tactile
in feel. The finish is just fantastic.
There is class-competitive leg, knee and shoulder space for outboard occupants,
door and front seatback map pockets, overhead grab handles, and a wide centre
armrest with cup holders.
Offering 400 liters, the boot is usefully large and adequately deep despite the
existence of a full-sized (steel) spare wheel below a pitifully flimsy floor. It
is also easy to load and unload thanks to a low lip and large aperture, and the
60/40 split fold seats lay flush with the boot floor for the benefit of longer
The top of the line model includes six airbags, stability control, anti-lock
brakes, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, traction control, collapsible
pedals, cruise control, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, air-conditioning,
power windows, remote central locking, auto-on headlights, six-speaker CD/MP3
audio, a trip computer, heated exterior mirrors and body colored exterior trim.
The overseas testers are all suggesting the diesel version is the way to go,
rather than the somewhat long in the tooth four cylinder 1.8 liter petrol.
It packs a considerable 110 kW/320 Nm 2.0 liter turbo-diesel that is capable of
delivering 6.8 L/100 km in six-speed auto guise.
The thing is, though, the Cruze’s price tag does not come within a cooee of this
sort of competition when you factor in feature for feature. Basically, you’re
paying at least 10 percent more than some, and even the costlier CD Diesel
version often manages to undercut several petrol rivals.
The Australian version of the Cruze is apparently being directly sourced from
Korea, but it would make more sense, with the Free Trade Agreement, to assemble
them here. I am sure there would also be a domestic market for the Cruze in
Thailand. After all, the sales of one tonne pick-ups and SUVs are depressed much
more than smaller sedans. How about it GM, out there on the Eastern Seaboard?
And you will be making the diesel engines there as well.
Just what is happening in F1?
Here is my take on the controversy, and why it happened. F1 is a
peculiar sport in the fact that it is quite fragmented. The FIA has been
setting the rules, and polices them under the direction of one man (Max
Mosley). The commercial rights are owned by one man (Bernie the greedy
garden gnome Ecclestone) and the teams have to toe the line to get money
from the holder of the commercial rights income. To attempt to redress this
nexus, the 10 teams banded together in September 2008 to provide one voice
under the umbrella of FOTA (Formula One Teams Association).
Simmering with discontent at their slice of the financial pie, FOTA began to put
pressure on the FIA and the commercial rights holder and battle lines were
Under the general heading of cost cutting, the FIA (read Mosley) unilaterally
stated that the 2010 rules would introduce measures to cap the costs, and that
teams which agreed to a cost cap of 40 million Sterling would have greater
technical freedoms than those who did not agree. This would include unlimited
engines, aerodynamic freedoms and testing. Those who did not agree to the cost
cap would get no testing during the year and other restrictions. These proposals
would of course produce a two tier championship - the cost capped and the free
FOTA immediately objected saying how could there be the pinnacle of motor sport
with two groups/tiers? The FIA returned by telling the teams they had to enter
by June 12, or they were out of the championship anyway. However, the FIA
(Mosley) did say, that if the teams did enter, agreeing to the new rules, then
changes to those rules could be agreed upon later. This is similar to the Big
Bad Wolf suggesting that Little Red Riding Hood come into the kitchen to confer
on the dinner menu, as for there to be any changes, ALL teams have to agree. Can
you see that happening afterwards? No, neither could I. Neither could the teams,
so they provided a ‘conditional’ entry, subject to 2010 running under the same
rules as 2009.
Returning to the cost capping, a footballer just changed teams for 80 million
Sterling, and the FIA suggested that you could run a team on half that! In
addition, whilst there were technological freedoms, it would cost much more than
40 million Sterling to design and test these freedoms. So cost capped teams were
really getting very little.
With governments world-wide promoting spending and injecting money to stimulate
the economy, the very concept of restraining the teams’ spending would also not
achieve much, other than putting many workers out of a job. Hardly stimulating
the economy. And just by being a big spender does not automatically mean the
race team becomes the big winner. Honda and Toyota are yet to win a
championship, despite their big budgets.
And so the argument went down to the wire, with a new date imposed by the FIA of
June 26. FOTA did not budge, so an impasse was reached, resulting in a press
release from the teams stating, “The teams cannot continue to compromise on the
fundamental values of the sport and have declined to alter their original
conditional entries to the 2010 World Championship.”
“These teams therefore have no alternative other than to commence the
preparation for a new Championship which reflects the values of its participants
and partners. This series will have transparent governance, one set of
regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans,
including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide, partners and other
important stakeholders.” We all cheered!
But the next step was the World Motor Sports Council (WMSC) meeting which
thrashed out a compromise between the FIA (Mosley), Ecclestone and FOTA.
However, remember that a compromise can never live long. A donkey is an entity,
a mule is a compromise.
Within 24 hours of Mosley saying he would retire and not seek re-election and
FOTA saying they would then stay within the FIA, it was gloves off again and
there are mutterings of a breakaway series yet again.
Quite frankly, your guess is as good as mine at this juncture, but I expect that
by the time we have come to the German GP in one week’s time, FOTA will have
given up their alternate championship, which will be a shame. The ‘good’
circuits such as Silverstone have to be maintained (300,000 spectators over the
race weekend) whilst the ‘bad’ circuits such as the dreadfully boring Valencia
should be dropped. Stay tuned.