The Advan advantage
Spent an interesting afternoon at the local Bira circuit with the
friendly folk from Yokohama. They were presenting the latest tyre
technology with their Yokohama Advan dB tyres.
Now dB stands for decibel, the unit of sound pressure levels, and
the slogan for these latest tyres was “The Power of Silence”, so
taking them to a racing circuit was certainly a brave move for
The afternoon was split into four sections, with the first being a
demonstration of rolling resistance, whereby a Lexus IS 250 on the
new Yokohama Advan dB rolled further than it did when fitted with
other tyres, all other factors being equal, such as tyre pressures.
With less rolling resistance, the ordinary driver could expect to go
further on a tank full, than otherwise.
The next section explored Noise Vibration Harmonics (NVH) and
cornering grip. This time we had identical Toyota Camry’s, with one
on the new tyre and the other on the old tyre. Quite frankly, when
driving over rumble strips placed on the track, I found no
difference between the two. Both went thump-thump-thump. However,
there were a couple of slalom courses marked out with witches hats
and the new tyre was certainly superior, requiring less steering
input to whistle down the slaloms. That section definitely went to
the new Advan dB.
I also went trackside to listen to the Camry’s being put through the
slalom, and there was no squeal at all. You could hear the tyres
gripping, but not protesting.
The third section was a direct comparison between two identical
Camry’s braking on wet bitumen, with a part of the straight
continuously watered. One car on the old rubber and the second car
on the new. The wet braking area was entered at 80 kph and when at
the marker, the brakes were fully applied. The Camry’s both had ABS,
which worked well both times, but the car with the new compound
braked consistently in 15 percent shorter distance. That could mean
the difference between a close shave and an expensive insurance
claim. This was the most impressive result for me, as it was easy to
show the reduced braking distance.
Wet braking test
The final part of the afternoon was a ‘leisurely’ trip from the Bira
Circuit to the Silverlake Vineyard and return, escorted and led by
the flashing lights and sirens of the Tourist Police. Now I know
what it is like to drive in a royal cavalcade.
For me, this did not really demonstrate anything about the new
tyres, but rather it showed what a quiet and comfortable vehicle is
the new Camry. Unfortunately the two liter engine certainly does not
make this model Camry a sports saloon. I’m afraid I would have to
say the small engined Camry was rather dull.
Asymmetric tread pattern
But back to the tyres. The already quiet dB pattern tread has been
improved by moving to an asymmetrical pattern especially for the
Advan dB. With tread blocks very close to each other, this minimizes
tread movement, which can be the reason for noisy tyres. It was also
interesting to note there were no large side sipes to clear water,
and the tyre also featured round shoulders, meaning the sidewalls
could do some work, adding to good response to steering input. The
longitudinal grooves were quite deep and designed the allow the tyre
to slice through the water and not aquaplane. The braking results
showed that this concept really did work. Design technology fostered
during many years of developing high-performance Advan tyres has
been fully utilized to provide the running safety, control and
comfortable ride required for high-performance and prestige
automobiles. Advan are the tyres used in the World Touring Car
championships, for example.
I know that tyre performance can often be very subjective, but there
were a couple of very objective tests which showed a superiority of
the new Yokohama Advan dB. You will go further on a tank full and
under brakes will pull up earlier, hopefully avoiding a nose to
My thanks go to Yokohama’s managing director, Yasushi Iida for the
opportunity to evaluate his latest tyre, which, by the way, is a
Japanese import, the local Yokohama works in Rayong being for light
truck tyres only.
The 1 Series BMW M Coupe - performance but still
BMW 1 Series M Coupe
BMW has released full details of the smallest ever model to emerge
from its high-performance M GmbH division. This is the new 1 Series
To make this version suitable as an “M” car, the 3.0 liter
twin-turbocharged direct-injection ‘N54’ straight six engine already
used in a Z4 model, which is the first time a standard production
powerplant has been seen in the bona fide M collection.
Producing 250 kW at 5900 rpm and 450 Nm of torque from 1500-4500 rpm
(with an over boost function increasing torque to 500 Nm for short
bursts under full acceleration), the engine drives the rear wheels
through a newly developed six speed manual gearbox resulting in a
0-100 km/h in a claimed 4.9 seconds. This is just one tenth of a
second slower than the M3 sedan, but it is still fugly.
BMW’s EfficientDynamics program, where accessories are governed by a
‘needs’ at the time basis, have taken the consumption below 10 L/100
km for the first time, with the 1 M Coupe’s official combined fuel
consumption rated at 9.6 L/100 km. CO2 emissions come in 224 g/km,
but quite frankly, I have yet to meet anyone who cares about carbon
foot prints - or even understands it.
The M version retains the 1 Series’ double-pivot spring-strut front
and five-link rear suspension design, although the aluminium content
has increased significantly, unique axle supports are included, the
electronic differential lock is now M-specific, the electronic
stability control includes an intervention threshold-raising M
Dynamic Mode (MDM), the rack-and-pinion steering is fitted with the
Servotronic hydraulic system, and the brakes are upgraded to M3
level, with inner-vented and perforated M-specific discs with a
360/350mm front/rear diameter, each with a single piston floating
The wheel and tyre combinations are now 19 inch M light alloy rims
in a Y-spoke design, with 245/35 tyres at the front and 265/35at the
The usual alphabet of electronic whizz-bangery with ABS brakes, an
anti-slip control function (ASC), dynamic brake control (DBC),
cornering brake control (CBC), a so-called ‘drive-off assistant’,
and anti-fade and dry brake functions designed to further improve
It still retains the punched in front appearance of the 1 Series,
and exaggerated by the huge air intakes either side, and throw in
flares to cover the wider front and rear tracks
According to BMW, “The letter M now comes to the segment of the BMW
1 Series to symbolize outstanding power delivery and the highly
dynamic driving properties of a high-performance sports car. The
technology of a high-performance car is combined with the agility
and lightness of a compact model to create a whole new dimension of
sports-style driving pleasure. With this two-door model, BMW M GmbH
is now realizing for the first time in this vehicle class its
concept of racing-oriented performance characteristics in a car
developed for everyday use.”
So, BMW have managed to produce a hot rod from its parts bin, which
I am sure drives very well. It is a shame that it is still fugly.
Keep your roof on!
Do you have a Webasto glass paneled sunroof fitted to your car? If
so, it might be a good idea to check it. Reports have come from all
over the world that sunroofs with glass panels have been flying off
because of a problem with the glue fixing the glass to the frame.
The roofs in trouble were made by Webasto, the world’s biggest
sunroof and folding roof manufacturer, and marketed as Hollandia.
Webasto have been replacing the glass panels, and using a different
Rather than waiting for lift-off, many motorists have been alerted
by wind and water leaks or rust as the bonding gradually fails.
Check yours today!
Most of the aftermarket sunroofs that are subject to the recall are
the Hollandia 700 model, made in Europe. A small proportion are the
American-made Hollandia 900 series twin-panel unit.
Motorists with aftermarket Hollandia 700 or 900 sunroofs should go
to Webasto’s special website (www.sunroofcheck.com) for more
information about the recall.
Recall notices have been posted in North America, Europe, South
Africa, South America and China by Webasto.
Bangkok International Motor Show changes venue
Grand Prix International, through its chairman, Dr. Prachin
Eamlumnow, has announced it will hold the 32nd Bangkok International
Motor Show for 14 days from March 23 (Wednesday) to April 6
(Wednesday), 2011. Public days will be from Saturday, March 26 until
April 6, and this year the Motor Show will be held at Challenger
Hall (Impact Muang Thong Thani), Bangkok.
The Bangkok International Motor Show was held at the BITEC venue for
12 years from the 19th show through the 31st show in 2010. Welcoming
a total of 1.6 million visitors during the time and enhancing its
position as an international motor show. Now for its next leap
forward, the venue will be transferred to Challenger Hall, Impact
Muang Thong Thani to mark its new start as “Discovering” a new
Bangkok International Motor Show.
This 32nd Bangkok International Motor Show will be a comprehensive
one that includes passenger cars, commercial vehicles, motorcycles,
vehicle bodies, parts, machinery and tools. This international motor
show will serve as a hub to send out information about the latest
next-generation safety and environment technologies from the
automobile industry. At the same time, it will offer visitors the
opportunity to rediscover the appeal, joy, and fun of cars and
motorcycles by viewing, touching, and riding the actual latest
The theme for this year show is “Discovering new innovations”. Since
the first step of the journey until the present, we have never
stopped our forward motion and development. We know that it is the
experiences that makes our journey colorful. At the Bangkok
International Motor Show, the most innovative automotive technology
will be seen working for mankind.
Pencil in the dates, and I will keep you informed about the various
displays and concept cars leading up to the opening.
Falken chooses Porsche 911 GT3 R
Falken Porsche 911 GT3 R
Long time participant in the Nürburgring 24 Hour race, Falken
Motorsport Team has signaled its intent for this year’s event (June
25th-26th) with the decision to run a highly competitive GT3 R
specification Porsche 911.
The high performance tyre manufacturer’s decision to switch to the
competitive Porsche follows a successful history of campaigning
Japanese sports cars in the ADAC Zurich 24 Hour Race and ties in
with increasing activity of the brand in the region. “With Falken
High Performance Tyres and Porsche, two premium motorsport brands
are coming together. This comes at a time when we are increasing our
commitment in Europe, with an intention to expand further,” says
Falken’s marketing director, Satoru Ushida.
Drivers for the 2011 assault, a race that will be used to develop
the next generation of Falken tyres, are still to be announced but
in line with the team’s preparations, the selection is likely to
focus on those with extensive Nürburgring experience. “It is our aim
to improve our race results from the past. Last year we achieved
12th place overall and 3rd place in the SP7 class and put our
performance to the test at the highest level,” adds Ushida.
The 2011 race will take place on the unique Nordschleife on June
25th-26th. With 33 left-hand and 40 right-hand curves, the famous
strip of asphalt snakes through the hilly Eifel landscape. In the
2010 Long-Distance Championship (VLN) held at the track, nine out of
the ten races were won by the Porsche 911 GT3 R.
I have actually driven the Nordschleif and it is just an amazing
circuit. Corners come up with little or no warning, and you have to
be wary of other drivers all the time. That drive in Germany remains
one of the highlights of my motor racing life.
The 911 GT3 R is powered by six-cylinder, naturally-aspirated boxer
engine with four liters of displacement, which generates 480
horsepower (353 kW) at 7,250 rotations per minute. Through a
six-speed sequential dog-type gearbox, the power is transmitted to
the rear transaxle. Traction control, electronically controlled
double de-clutching function and a specially tuned racing ABS make
the 911 GT3 R a highly competitive vehicle. Wheels: Front axle:
One-piece, forged, lightweight alloy wheels (11J x 18 ET 35) and
290/660R18 tyres. Rear axle: One-piece, forged, lightweight alloy
wheels (13J x 18 ET 12.5) and 330/710R18 tyres.
The Falken High Performance Tyres and their extraordinary driving
characteristics have formed motorsport for many years. FALKEN racing
tyres have proved their quality and performance in the most
challenging race series in the world. These include the Super Taikyu
Series, the American Le Mans and the Nurburgring event.
The ADAC Zurich 24 Hour Race at the Nürburgring has been held on the
approximately 25 km long combination of the Nordschleife and
Grand-Prix track since 1970. The long lap length makes a field of
more than two hundred vehicles possible, which are driven by up to
approximately 700 drivers. Due to the large starting field and more
than 200,000 fans that line the track, the race is regarded by some
as the largest motorsports event in the world. In 2011, it will be
held from the 23rd to 26th June.
Focus III for Thailand and from Thailand
It is no secret that Ford Motor Company is building a new plant on the Eastern
Seaboard, and it will be the production base for the C-platform vehicles, of
which the new Focus III will be the king pin. Currently produced in Germany, the
SE Asian production is slotted for 2012.
Focus III for 2012
Focus III will come in both five door hatchback and four door
sedan body styles, and rides on an all-new platform that, instead of being
shared with Mazda’s 3, will underpin 10 new small Ford global models with 80
percent parts commonality. Ford estimates it will produce two million C-platform
vehicles a year by 2012 - double the number in 2008.
This globalization by FoMoCo will see the vehicles being built in North America
as well as Germany and soon Russia and China, followed by Thailand.
Claims for Focus III include a bodyshell that is 30 percent more rigid than
before, due to the fact more than half of it (55 percent) will be made from
high-strength steel. As well, 26 percent of the vehicle is made from
ultra-high-strength steel, including Boron - more than any other Ford model.
The result is vastly improved noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels -
including interior wind noise that Ford claims is much lower than in rivals such
as the Mazda3.
The fully independent Control Blade multi-link rear suspension assembly famously
pioneered by the original Focus back in 1998 is now attached to the chassis by a
separate sub-frame, also reducing road noise.
The latest interpretation of Ford’s ‘kinetic’ design language not only makes
both the lower, longer and wider hatch and sedan models look more up market than
before, but results in an aerodynamic drag coefficient of as low as 0.297Cd for
the sedan, which according to Ford makes it more slippery than the Chevrolet
Also contributing to an alleged seven percent improvement in aero efficiency are
under-body panels and a new BMW-style active grille shutter system, which blocks
cooling airflow when not required to improve aerodynamics at higher speeds and
reduce engine temperatures at low speeds.
Engines will include two direct-injection 2.0 liter four cylinder engines - a
Duratorq turbo-diesel and a Ti-VCT petrol - matched with both five-speed manual
and six-speed dual-clutch Powershift automatic transmissions.
Ford says the 2012 Focus’ chassis and suspension tune - including the new
Porsche-style Active Torque Vectoring system that brakes individual driven
wheels to improve traction and provide a form of electronic limited-slip
differential - will be almost identical across all markets.
If there is a downside to the Focus’ new-found panache, however, it is steering.
Few cars have made the transition from conventional hydraulic to electric power
steering and it seems the Focus - a nameplate that has the enviable reputation
of being one of the sharpest steering small cars ever - is no exception.
Overseas testers who have driven Focus III describe it as a brilliantly resolved
ride/handling compromise and the super-stiff bodyshell combine to make the Focus
as agile as ever and its vice-free chassis will appeal to a much broader
audience than ever before.
Ford describes its first global model as the most hi-tech Ford ever and says the
2012 Focus offers more affordable technologies than the Corolla and Honda’s
Civic, as well as larger models like the Camry and Accord.
Some of the technologies that will be available will include voice-activated
audio, climate and navigation control to a new level in a small car - and also
features a rear-view camera, Wi-Fi and text-to-voice capability, Bluetooth
connectivity, two five-way steering wheel controls and an HD radio with iTunes
All variants offer a luxuriously soft animal skin-like dash
surface, highly supportive sports seats with driver’s adjustment, and a high-end
TFT info screen between the instrument dials.
The new model improves on Focus II in many respects and now offers first-class
ride, refinement and technology.
Add to that an otherwise superb ride/handling package, impeccable design and
build quality, class-leading petrol engine efficiency and handsome new exteriors
and Ford’s newest small car is certain to attract new customers in the global
Hypermiling - a new sport?
A dictionary entry for Hypermiling states that it is the act
of driving using techniques that maximize fuel economy. Those who practice these
techniques are referred to as “hypermilers.”
Hypermiling is defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as the attempt to
maximize gas mileage by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one’s vehicle and
one’s driving techniques. In fact, in 2008, the word Hypermiling was selected as
the best new word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.
Hypermiling, which can be practiced in any vehicle regardless of its fuel
economy, has gained in popularity as a result of the rise in gasoline prices
during the 2000s. While common techniques can be carried out by average
motorists making minor changes in their driving habits, many Hypermilers use
more advanced techniques, some of which are illegal in most if not all
Hypermiling has come under fire from several quarters due to claims of dangerous
or unlawful behavior by some Hypermilers. As a result, the Hypermiling Safety
Foundation was formed in August 2008 to promote a safety and public awareness
program, advocating legal fuel-saving techniques.
In some places, Hypermiling contests have been held to see who can get the
highest mpg on a selected course.
The recent Maximum Fuel Economy contest was held in Elkhart, Indiana, where
“world records” for the Honda Insight (213 miles per US gallon (1.10 L/100 km;
256 mpg-imp) round trip), Toyota Prius (136 miles per US gallon (1.73 L/100 km;
163 mpg-imp) round trip) and the Ford Escape Hybrid (76 miles per US gallon (3.1
L/100 km; 91 mpg-imp) mpg round trip) were achieved, albeit having been achieved
while rolling through all stop signs and having the vehicle tires inflated well
beyond recommended specifications! The record for the most miles achieved out of
a single tank of gas, with 2,254 miles (3,627 km) from the 13.7 US gallons (52
l; 11.4 imp gal) tank of a 2006 Honda Insight, represents an average of 164.53
miles per US gallon (1.4296 L/100 km; 197.59 mpg-imp) for the entire distance.
Now all that sounds terribly new and “green” and is the sort of fodder that the
global warming people love to seize upon, to show their commitment to saving the
planet. I am afraid I am with GM’s Bob Lutz who stated that “Global warming is a
crock of sh*t.” And to show my true callous nature, if Bob and I are wrong we’ll
both be dead long before Bangkok disappears beneath the rising seas, so it isn’t