Jeeves, bring the Bentley around
Bentley has announced the Continental Supersports
- a 329 km/h sports Bentley all yours for 16 million baht (plus the
usual 300 percent or so import duty) - plus another couple of
million for matt paint. At that rate, I think I will tell my
children to become spray painters.
Bentley have produced this new Supersports, which boasts a zero to
100 km/h time of 3.9 seconds, despite its weight of 2240 kg. However
this all-up weight is over 110 kg lighter than the base model
Bentley (if there ever is such a thing as a “base model” Bentley).
It was the late Colin Chapman who really applied the light weight
concept to F1 cars many decades ago, and the Bentley exercise shed
weight by firstly tossing out the rear seats (26 kg saved), then
another 45 kg was saved by replacing the sumptuous leather front
seats with new carbon fiber bucket seats (sourced from the Bugatti
Veyron). Carbon fiber disc brakes saved another 39 kg.
The Supersports features the same twin turbo 6.0 liter W12 (ex-VW)
engine to other Continental models, but the boost pressure has been
increased to produce 463 kW at 6000 rpm and 800 Nm of torque at
The engine has also been modified to run E85 ethanol fuel as part of
Bentley’s attempt to give its muscle car a green tinge. A very light
green tinge, I might add, as the fuel consumption figures make the
Porsche Cayenne Turbo look like an eco-car! The official fuel
consumption comes in at 16.3 liters per 100 km for the combined
cycle. The city consumption figure is a staggering 24.5 liters per
100 km, so don’t stray far from your nearest petrol station.
The Supersports runs a torque converter type six-speed automatic
which has been adapted for 50 percent faster shifts. This
transmission can be controlled with the gearshift or by dash mounted
paddles behind the steering wheel.
Like the other Continentals, the Supersports runs a constant
all-wheel-drive system. The other models feature a system that sends
50 percent to the front wheels and 50 percent to the rear, but the
Superports has a 40 percent front and 60 percent rear split for
For greater stability, Bentley has increased the width of the rear
track by 50 mm. This engineering change also led designers to flare
the rear wings which also give the Supersports a meaner look.
The front suspension features stiffer bushes, a retuned anti-roll
bar and aluminium forward levers, while all the dampers have also
been recalibrated along with the steering. The wheels are 20 inches
in size, featuring lightweight forged aluminum and are shod with
275/35 ZR20 Ultra High Performance Pirelli tyres.
Bentley has also retuned the electronic stability control system to
allow for sportier driving.
The Supersports runs what Bentley claims are the largest and most
powerful brakes ever fitted to a road car. The front carbon discs
have a 420 mm diameter and 356 mm diameter at the rear. They are
gripped by eight-piston calipers at the front and dual piston
calipers at the rear.
Like all Bentleys, the Supersport’s interior can be customized, but
has several carbon fiber surfaces and a combination of leather and
alcantara on the doors and the seats.
It is supposedly easily identifiable from the exterior thanks to
deeper front and rear bumpers, larger exhaust pipes and bonnet
vents, which Bentley insists are fully functional. This way you
won’t mistake the Supersports from all the other common or garden
Bentleys you see every day on Thailand’s roads.
The traditional chrome bright elements have been replaced by
blacked-out parts. Bentley says the process of painting these
stainless steel parts - which include the headlight surrounds,
window surrounds, front grille and option wheels - is an industry
first. One has to say, “Why would you bother?”
The Supersports is available in 17 standard paint colors, as well as
two matt colors including two types of grey, which is available in
limited numbers as the 1.8 m baht option.
Last week I asked you to take a look at the picture of this motorcycle. It is
very famous and a world record holder. I asked what was the rider’s name? It was
the world’s fastest Indian motorcycle, ridden at over 200 mph by eccentric New
Zealand engineer Burt Munro. If you haven’t seen the film with Sir Anthony
Hopkins as Burt, go and get it. It is out on DVD and a great movie.
So to this week. Why is Lt. Zebulon Pike remembered in motor sport circles?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Toyota introduces Prius Plug-In Hybrid
Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan has confirmed the introduction of
the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV), a version of the third-generation Prius
petrol-electric hybrid vehicle.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) offers greater range on electric power
only, using lithium-ion batteries - a first for Toyota - which can be charged
from an external source as well as by the car’s own hybrid drive system.
The Prius PHVs will be leased to government ministries, local governments,
corporations including electric power companies, universities and research
agencies, for use in a demonstration program aimed at collecting real-world
driving data and spurring the development of battery-charging infrastructure. In
other words, they don’t really know if it is going to work!
The Prius PHV can be charged using an external power source such as a household
electric outlet and is the first vehicle produced by Toyota to be propelled by a
lithium-ion battery. Further, due to the battery’s expanded capacity, the
vehicle has an extended electric-vehicle driving range, enabling use as an
electric vehicle (EV) for short distances. While for medium and long distances,
after battery power depletes to a level no longer allowing EV driving mode, the
vehicle then functions as a conventional petrol-electric hybrid vehicle (HV).
Thus, use is not constrained by remaining battery power or availability of
PHVs, such as the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, are expected to achieve fuel efficiency
superior to conventional petrol-electric HVs, reduce consumption of fossil fuels
and reduce CO2 emissions and atmospheric pollution (if that means much to you).
“The Plug-in Hybrid technology is a key driver on our road towards sustainable
mobility,” said Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) Executive Vice-President Takeshi
Uchiyamada. “Based on Toyota’s full hybrid powertrain, PHV represents today the
most practical way of increasing the use of electricity for personal transport.
Now we need to investigate market acceptance of this new technology.” As
mentioned above, now we will see if the concept works!
Toyota believes that to meet the diversification of energy sources plug-in
hybrid vehicles are a highly suitable environmentally considerate option. Toyota
is therefore actively encouraging market introduction to aid understanding and
to promote the early widespread use of PHVs. Toyota will analyze feedback
regarding the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, with an aim to begin sales in the tens of
thousands of units to the general public in two years. After they see if it
Toyota says it promotes the use of alternative energy sources, such as
electricity, to limit the consumption of fossil fuels and to reduce CO2
emissions. Thus, the company is accelerating the development of
electricity-related technologies honed by experience gained from 12 years
selling petrol-electric HVs, the market introduction of the RAV4 EV SUV and the
leasing of fuel-cell HVs.
Get your pencils out
2010 Formula One calendar:
14 March: Bahrain
28 March: Australia
4 April: Malaysia
18 April: China
9 May: Spain
16 May: Monaco
30 May: Turkey
13 June: Canada
27 June: Europe (Valencia)
11 July: Great Britain
25 July: Germany
1 August: Hungary
29 August: Belgium
12 September: Italy
26 September: Singapore
10 October: Japan
24 October: Korea
7 November: Brazil
14 November: Abu Dhabi
And now the Mini Moke reincarnation
Remember the Moke? It was great in Australia with the sunny climate,
but not so great in sunny Birmingham where it rains every day. Try 140 wet days
and rainfall average of over 800 mm a year, compared to sub-tropical Brisbane
which averages eight hours of sunshine every day! Yes, Mokes were great in
The next variant of the new (BMW style) Mini, the new Moke, is called the
“Beachcomber Concept” and takes the same sense of minimalism, freedom and
adventure but adds a roll cage, a lockable boot and 4WD.
The flexibility of the concept vehicle is exceptional, and it’s clear that the
designers have spent time with a Moke and thought through the potential
drawbacks of the original design and how they might be overcome. One of the
greatest weaknesses of the original Moke was that it didn’t have a secure area
of any kind - the Beachcomber’s rear-mounted spare wheel compartment is actually
a lockable storage area as it comes with run-flat tyres. BMW seem to be totally
married to run-flats, even though they are not practical anywhere outside of
Europe and impart a harsh ride. At least this Mini concept does not seem to have
The Moke also lacked a roll cage ex factory, though many owners added one, while
the Beachcomber’s substantial item looks strong enough to give roll-over
The original Moke’s rag roof was a bit of a joke, with the side curtains
flapping up and down like a beagle’s ears at speeds over 80 km/h. The
Beachcomber’s tonneau-style soft roof will have a far more substantial base to
stretch over and the press release claims it folds away and stretches over the
body in moments, but always take press releases ‘cum grano salis’.
As a further option for reliable protection even in bad weather, the Mini
Beachcomber Concept is available with accurately fitting plastic inserts on the
roof, at the sides and at the rear. In real life these will become so scratched
in six months you will not be able to see through them. Believe me.
It also boasts a liquid-sprung compass and an artificial horizon showing the
angle of the car around its longitudinal and transverse axis. What you’ve always
wanted on a fun beach car, I am sure. I almost forgot - you get a stopwatch as
Don’t rush to the Mini dealers. If it ever does become reality, it is a couple
of years away yet. The Mini Beachcomber Concept will make its public debut at
the North American International Auto Show on January 16, 2010 in Detroit.