Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

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).

Bentley Supersports

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 1700-5600 rpm.
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 greater performance.
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.

Autotrivia Quiz

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 [email protected]
Good luck!


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.

Plug in Prius

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 battery-charging infrastructure.
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 worked, again!
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 eastern Australia.
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 iDrive!
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 protection.
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 well.
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.

New Moke