Vol. IX No. 21 - Tuesday
May 25 - May 31, 2010



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Turkish GP this weekend

Istanbul Otodrom

The Turkish GP is on this weekend in the Istanbul “Otodrom”, which as the old song went, “You can’t go back to Constantinople, ‘coz it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople”.

The circuit is about 80 km east of Istanbul, and is 5.3 km long and the theoretical top speed should be around 320 kph. The race is over 58 laps and expect lap times down around 1 minute 24. Racing is anti-clockwise, and for much more than that you will have to watch the TV as I do. However, don’t look for spectators, they are as thin on the ground as in Shanghai, where they made huge sections of the vacant grandstands into advertising hoardings.

The GP will be at 7 p.m. Thai time, but check your local feed to confirm this. (Qualifying, by the way is at 6 p.m. on the Saturday.)

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I wrote to try and beat the Googlers - which automaker made this car? Clue - it wasn’t Mazda. It was Daihatsu! The model was called the X 021.

So to this week. What car when shown for the first time generated 22,000 orders on the first day of the show?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]

Good luck!

Who made this car?


Top shelf Bentley - a very expensive VW

The new top shelf Bentley Mulsanne sedan (owned by VW, remember) was revealed in Australia in May, but a queue of 15 potential Aussie buyers has already formed for the eight to ten cars expected to arrive here in the next 12 months, and its official drive-away price is A$ 695,000 (19 million baht at current exchange rate, but does not include duty and excise, which would bring it to around 50-60 million at a rough guess).

Bentley Mulsanne

The A$ 695,000 price tag is significantly up on that of its predecessor, the Arnage, as well as the Mulsanne’s most direct rival, Rolls-Royce’s upcoming Ghost, on-road pricing for which was originally also announced at A$ 695,000 before being trimmed to A$ 645,000 in January this year. Now that’s what you really call a discount.

This new Mulsanne will also cost almost twice as much as Bentley’s entry-level four-door, the Flying Spur sedan, which opens the Continental range at A$ 368,134 (around 12 million baht at exchange rates).

The list of Mulsanne options - or their prices - have not been announced but is expected to be extensive and expensive, with each vehicle said to take 450 hours to build - including more than 170 hours on the interior alone - resulting in a six month wait from order to Australian delivery.

“If anything, it is a more labor-intensive process to produce the Mulsanne than it was the Arnage,” said regional manager for Southeast Asia, Ed Striebig.

“Everything that looks like metal on the car is metal, where safety permits,” he said of the Mulsanne, for which Bentley has concentrated on the quality of trims such as softer leather and thicker wood veneer as well as the careful assembly of each car.

The hides of no fewer than 17 cows (half a herd) go into each Mulsanne and the example on display had optional carbon-ceramic disc brakes and 21inch (instead of 20 inch) wheels.

The 2585 kg Mulsanne, measuring 5575 mm long and 1926 mm wide, is the first stand-alone large Bentley sedan since the company was absorbed by Rolls-Royce in 1931.

Its twin-turbocharged 6.75 liter pushrod V8, which develops 377 kW at 4200 rpm and 1020 Nm of torque at 1750 rpm, is said to return 15 percent lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions than the Arnage by employing new technologies such as cylinder deactivation, which allows it to run on four cylinders in light-load conditions.

Still, although the Mulsanne will be sportscar-quick with 100 km/h arriving in a claimed 5.1 seconds from rest, the R-R Ghost is quicker at 4.9 seconds while also being more efficient. Its BMW-developed twin-turbo 6.6 liter V12 returns a claimed 13.6 L/100 km - versus 16.9 L/100 km for the Bentley. However, when you are paying multi-millions for your car, do you worry about fuel consumption? The only ‘green’ thing these people know are American dollars.

The Mulsanne is equipped with an eight-speed ZF transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to drive its rear wheels, plus all-independent adjustable air suspension and a monocoque chassis that Bentley says is unique.


The world’s fastest road car - 267 mph (426 km/h) after one mile

There is another form of motor sport, which has arisen in the US. In some ways similar to drag racing, this classification is known as One Mile Racing. The performance is measured as the speed through the traps at the end of a measured mile, from a standing start. Remember that drag racing is only over quarter of a mile.

World’s Fastest Road Car

If you thought that this title would be a shoe-in for the Bugatti Veyron, think again. The Bugatti Veyron finished the standing mile at just over 200 mph (320 km/h).

The first record fell (and remember this is by a street legal, road-going, car) when a Lamborghini Gallardo TT ran 255 mph (408 km/h). This record was then smashed by a heavily modified Ford GT which ran 266.9 mph (426 km/h). The car was built by Heffner Performance, and was both driven and owned by Ray Hofman, the President and CEO of Peak Completions from Midland, Texas.

The yellow Ford GT is equipped with a standard 6-speed manual transmission, runs a stock engine block and heads, retains its air-conditioning, power windows and power door-locks, and it also has an original, completely stock body with no aerodynamic modifications other than removing the rear view mirrors.

The Texas mile has been held each March and October at the Goliad airstrip since 2003 and it has now attracted a national following and a global reputation for beckoning the man on the street to “Drive in Your World, Race in Ours!”

In essence, anyone can enter and it is an opportunity to run your street registered motorcycle or car down the measured mile without the fear of speeding tickets and jail time and the aim of the exercise is to see what speed your vehicle is doing at the end of the mile.


Geely promises its IG will be cheaper than Nano

Chinese car maker Geely claims it will produce the ‘world’s cheapest car’, offering the production version of its IG concept in India from 2012 - or earlier - at a price that undercuts the $2500 Tata Nano.

The Chinese manufacturer, which recently bought Volvo, is reportedly preparing to make a major assault on the Indian market with an IG-based model against Tata’s Nano.

Cheap IG from Geely

Shown at the recent Beijing motor show in 2+2 configuration the IG had gullwing doors and, significantly, a production-oriented 88 kW electric motor. (IG stands for ‘Intelligent Geely’.)

While Geely has plans to put the full-electric powertrain into mass production inside three years, the company said in its official literature at the show that the vehicle also had “the availability of a 1.0-litre three-cylinder gasoline engine powertrain with CVVT, providing outstanding fuel economy while maintaining dynamics”.

Unlike the SLS Mercedes, the gullwing doors are not expected to appear on the production version, but Geely said the model complies with its ‘Safety First R&D theory’ and, with a strong body and the fitment of ‘multi-functioned’ airbags, was designed to achieve a four-star crash-test rating under Chinese NCAP.

Tata’s Nano also seats four but uses a smaller (rear-mounted) 24kW 624cc two-cylinder engine paired with a four-speed manual gearbox. Average fuel economy is 5 L/100 km.



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