Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Maserati goes the lightweight route

The next Quattroporte (four door for the non-Italians) will be lighter, more efficient and available with all-wheel drive, turbo V6 and idle-stop technologies.

The new Quattroporte will make its debut at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show and is believed to be designed on a new platform from the new generation of top-shelf models to emerge from the Fiat-Chrysler alliance (take-over).

Current Maserati Quattroporte.

Maserati say their target for the new Quattroporte is to slash fuel consumption by 25 percent. And that even includes the all-wheel drive at the top of the range - by reducing weight by 15 percent and employing V6 and downsized V8 engines matched with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, which just about every manufacturer is offering these days.

Details of Maserati’s third model line - which will join the Quattroporte sedan, GranTurismo coupe and the closely related GranCabrio convertible remain scarce, but Maserati expects the compact four-seat coupe or sedan to be its volume-selling model by drawing a 10 percent share of Europe’s ‘high-end E-segment’.

Maserati SpA commercial director Raffaele Fusilli told GoAuto in Australia in February that the design of the lighter and more dynamic new model was already locked in, and that future Maserati models were likely to be powered by twin-turbo petrol V6 and even hybrid drivetrains.

“We are working on weight reduction, dynamic improvement, keeping the roominess, increasing the room in the trunk and other parts. What I’ve seen up to now is very exciting for the four-door.”

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that it is often thought that Henry Ford ‘invented’ the assembly line approach to building cars, but he did not.

Quiz car

Who did pioneer the assembly line approach in cars? Clue 1901. It was Ramson E Olds with the Curved Dash Oldsmobile.

So to this week. What is this car? British and they made 400 of them in 1958.

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

Good luck!

How to become a world champion

So your lad is showing talent in go-karts and avidly watches F1 on the TV. What are his chances of becoming the next Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel?


Well, the bad news is, that unless you have very deep pockets, the boy will remain an amateur racer, or at best, semi pro, for the rest of his life. These days there is a very well defined stairway to the top, and your lad will have to excel all the way, and at every stage.

The Formula BMW Asia series used to be the way to get on the ladder, and that was not a cheap exercise, with around USD 250,000 needed to fund the 12 months. Yes, that’s right, quarter of a million US dollars. Win the Asian series and he could go to the run-off with the winners from the other F BMW regional series. Win that and you were ready to move up to the next rung on the ladder - an even more expensive rung.

However, BMW are closing off F BMW Asia at the end of this year and will have a new series called the F BMW Talent Cup for 2011.

According to BMW, as part of the strategic realignment of its motorsport involvement, BMW is embarking on new paths in its promotion of young racing talent following almost ten successful Formula BMW championship years. Starting next season, the Formula BMW Talent Cup will be established. BMW will no longer be running its Formula BMW racing series in Europe and Asia.

The Formula BMW Talent Cup concept has two aims: to offer young racing drivers a comprehensive education and to prepare them for a professional career in motorsport. The target group are talented young drivers aged 14 and above, bringing the Formula BMW Talent Cup even closer to the junior base in karting than the current Formula BMW series. The Formula BMW FB02 will continue to be used as the race vehicle centrally operated by BMW Motorsport.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen explains: “Promoting young talent continues to be an important strand of our realigned project landscape. BMW has been actively involved in supporting talented young drivers since the 1970s and aims to continue this tradition. With the Formula BMW Talent Cup we are positioning ourselves between karting and professional motorsport, so starting out a stage earlier than with our previous Formula BMW concept. This realignment allows us to react to new conditions and the increase in costs seen in junior, single-seater racing. As such we are offering young drivers an extremely cost-effective platform and are sharpening our focus on practical driving experience and driver education so to provide them with the best possible preparation for their future career on and beside the track. At the end of the one-year training, the greatest talent will win a season in an appropriate higher race series financed by BMW.”

A season in the Formula BMW Talent Cup is offered to a maximum of 15 participants for 100,000 Euro per person (around 4 million baht). Entry is restricted to those without experience in racing series outside of karting. Those interested can email [email protected] with immediate effect. The official pre-registration for the 2011 season begins in late summer 2010. The latest information can also be found on the internet at www.

Formula BMW in its current format has spawned many Formula One drivers. In the current season alone, seven Formula One drivers have come out of the Formula BMW fold and many more are knocking at the door. Well over 70 drivers made the leap into Formula 3 or similar race series.

As I said, the opportunities are there - but it is expensive.

Fiat offering new Alfa Romeo models too

With Fiat’s boss Marchionne having taken over Chrysler, and covering Maserati and Alfa Romeo and Abarth, he promised new models for all the brands under his administration. Not only new models, but better market penetration with Marchionne’s ambitious target of 500,000 annual sales for the Alfa Romeo brand by 2014 - up from just over 100,000 in 2009.

“In the past you have heard several times Alfa promising such growth figures, but this time we have the right conditions, the right products and the right synergies to get there,” said the CEO of Alfa Romeo, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in June. Confirming plans revealed in the Fiat-Chrysler alliance plan announced two months ago, Alfa will launch six new products in the next four years. They include a five-door version of the MiTo, a new Spider, a medium SUV, a large SUV and the 159-replacing Giulia medium sedan and wagon, which is scheduled to appear in 2012.

The Golf-sized Giulietta hatchback is based on a new compact platform that is eventually forecast to underpin annual production of one million Fiat, Chrysler and Alfa vehicles. Marchionne might just be smart enough to make this, on the surface unwieldy monster, work!

Nine seater Honda revealed

Having secret tests in China, a new Honda MPV (midget people vehicle) was spotted by our vigilant team of highly paid photographers. Unsure as to whether the paint can held at the side of the MPV would be considered as an extra sidecar, we have included the passenger in the head-count.

With three and four up being common in Thailand, and even five up at times, this new Honda MPV certainly outdoes them all.

9 seater MPV