Wednesday, May 30, 2007

B91 4RD

This joint has not a great web design, neither flashy interfaces or big galleries or photoshops, and it’s not even updated very regularly. But we have graphics! The one below plots two different handling tests (ISO and VDA) and results from several car models. Ideally, a car should achieve the maximum speed possible in both tests, being this speed the maximum that the car passes the test without the driver (and ESP) loose control. The cloud of points in the middle shows a bunch of middle-class saloons and also a Peugeot 307 (that has better handling than several higher-priced cars). It also shows a couple of reference high performance models (BMW M3 and Porsche Boxster). And there is also the primary object of interest, vehicles B91 4RD and B91 2RD.

We know what car those references point to, but we choose not to say what it is. But we give readers a clue: RD means “roues directrices”… Note how model B91 2RD falls amongst the best of the middle cloud of points, and please note how B91 4RD excels with sport-car-like handling! Completely above all other cars in its class.

At this point we would like to note that we had access to benchmark data like this graphic before…but usually try to be out of trouble… this information is only appearing here because it was made public before. Also it is not 100% sure, we could not verify it with other sources hence be warned about its possible accuracy.

Anyway, if this info is true the particular model the graphic refers to will:
- achieve top marks in passive safety, possibly being the first to achieve the 6th star in EuroNCAP crash tests;
- in its 4RD version will obliterate the competition in handling and active safety...
...thus becoming, by far, the safest car in its class.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

VW Tiguan

A nice rear view of the new small-SUV from VW. I bet that light cluster would look really nice with LEDs and hopefully VW will offer it as well as an excellent range of engines, the great DSG gearbox and an interior with improved quality regarding the Golf and other current VW models.
In case the reader is wondering, as I was, why are VW and other European manufacturers getting ready so many new small-SUV when emissions regulations and public approval for lower CO2 are on the agenda? Well, profit of course, since SUV versions are most profitable than hatchbacks or breaks. Car manufacturers like profit. They also like to protect the environment and make the good for the world and children, but they like profit more. I also like an intelligent, sensible woman but I like big boobs more. Simple logic!

Friday, May 25, 2007

2008 Toyota Avensis

The future design trends in the middle-class have a common distinction over current designs: more polarizing. The old-school drawing from Auto-Motor-und-Sport pictured below shows the next Toyota Avensis that will move further away from the current anonymous design. If that means closer to a 4-door coupe we applaud. Other than that the technical bits are predictable: superior reliability; superior real-quality (not just Audi-like photo-perceived quality), and more diesels. Another step in the relentless rise of Toyota in Europe. Relentless but slower than what Toyota achieved in the USA because we, Europeans, are a difficult crowd to please.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

update: Seat Bolero

Autoweek magazine presented a couple of drawings of the A4-based Seat Bolero (name not confirmed yet). Please refer to previous blog entry for more info and check the sketches at Autoweek.
A couple of remarks. The design is more angular and chiseled than current Seat language. This might just be perceived because we are looking at drawings, not real cars or CGIs. Also it looks very good which is expected from an Audi A4-derived sketch. But the real doubt is: would the board of director's at VW group allow such elegant, sporty and good-looking desgn to be built as a Seat?...

200? Peugeot 608

A new CGI by French magazine L’Auto-Journal on the 608. The magazine mentions a 2011 introduction but we believe that is too much time, even for Peugeot standards. Other than that the design proposal looks perfect and would be an excellent argument for Peugeot to seriously play in the haut-de-gamme segment. But please, at least an Haldex AWD this time... will Peugeot keep selling us FWD cheapness?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

2008 Lancia Delta

The picture shows a design proposal close to the final version of the Lancia Delta. Expect the car to be closely related to the Fiat Bravo in both engine range and platform, including the use of a simple rear suspension unlike their brother, the Alfa 149, that will adopt a multilink scheme. Classy improvements over the Bravo are to be found in a better quality interior, chrome accents in the exterior and overall attention to detail.

Regardless of the success of this model it will be interesting to follow how the management of Fiat-group will handle Lancia brand in the future. So many mistakes have been made in the past but we can hope that the future Lancia will revive as the classy and comfort-oriented brand of Fiat-group, with added personality although hopefully without freakish designs like the current Thesis.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The road to EV future: news on batteries

Recently a couple of news pointed to a strong possibility of real-life EV’s in the next years. Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa Corporation formed a new joint venture company to develop and build large format lithium ion batteries for automotive applications. The cooperative effort will kick off with an investment of about $30 million to install equipment at Yuasa's main plant to produce up to 200,000 lithium cells annually. Key-words here: large format; “to produce”; and of course 200,000. This will be the foundation for the manufacturing of the Mitsubishi i-EV, rumoured to be one of the first real-life electric vehicle available in 2010.

Another company, battery supplier A123 Systems, has unveiled two new batteries specifically optimized for
automotive applications. One of the new cells is configured for high power applications in regular hybrid configurations while the other is designed for higher energy capacity for plug-in hybrid vehicles. The relevance of this news bit: A123 offers batteries that are for real, being already sold and tested in commercial applications (cordless tools and backup systems). This gives credibility to their promises of commercially available batteries for automotive applications: hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

2054 Citroen

The vehicle below is a virtual concept car designed for French sci-fi animation movie "Renaissance". The action takes place in Paris, year 2054, and although the movie is very cool the car itself does not look like what we could drive in 2054. It actually doesn't look very futuristic at all. Regardless of the design, the cars that we will drive in 2050 will probably be electric and with a completely different architecture, probably much closer to the Lexus concept presented in Minority Report.

Friday, May 11, 2007

2008 VW Polo

Or maybe 2009 only. The restyling of the current Polo was very well done and the success of the car might allow it to run for a bit more time. Anyway, the replacement is well known since the underpinnings are the same as in the new Skoda Fabia. So no multilink rear suspensions just like in the next Fiesta that will also have a simple torsion beam. It seems the MINI will continue being the only car in this class with a sophisticated rear suspension.
The CGI below is from Auto Motor und Sport and is not reliable. The next Polo will probably adopt the new face of VW (that was already previewed by Auto-Bild although we can't confirm its accuracy yet) so the rather good-looking design below might not be used since it is too "current-VW".

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

2009 VW Golf Plus

Autozeitung presented a CGI on the next Golf Plus. This will arrive after the new Golf VI presentation. We are not sure about the front design because it should adopt the new face of VW that Walter de Silva will be using for the next Golf and other VW models. BTW, AutoBild has an article about that new front design and although we like what we see so far we need to find confirmation from internal sources. Maybe next week the reader will find in Auto-Future an article on the new front design of VW models, we just need to check with a couple of persons before believing in Huckfeldt CGI. Back to the Plus, the profile of Autozeitung’s CGI of the Golf Plus looks good, it looks like a B-class because probably that was the donor photograph for the photoshop… Anyway, it would not be a bad idea for VW to look inspiration on the success of the B-class.

The Golf Plus sales are not what VW had hoped for. At the beginning of commercialization they were saying it could account for 35 to 40% of overall Golf sales. It now represents 25% so not quite as good as expected. We believe that in order to have more success the Golf Plus should have more space: use the platform of the Touran (that has a longer wheelbase than the Golf), use only with 5 seats, keep the same width and lower the roofline. This would make for a more spacious car than the Plus but at the same time more sporty and elegant than the Touran.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The road to EV future: Toyota Endo

We love Endo and we think it should be available for everyone, you know, for medical purposes... No seriously, other than slang for marijuana Endo is the name of a concept car from Toyota that is rumoured to be presented in its definitive production version at Frankfurt motor show. It seems the Aygo was not small enough so Toyota will present this litlle thing that will compete with the Smart. We like small cars but our interest in this vehicle goes in other direction. While we are anxiously waiting for the first rea-life-widely-available-EV from Mitsubishi or Subaru, and knowing that next year Toyota will make the new Prius available with Li-ion batteries, we are guessing the Endo could also be available in full electric mode. Actually, we are not just guessing, there are some signs in the radar tha suggest that possibility. The begining of the next decade will be very interesting for the future of automobile, that is the EV future.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

2008 Alfa Romeo 149

Some recent juice on the highly awaited Alfa 149: the design is now frozen and the first prototypes are on the streets testing. It is expected to arrive in the first half of 2008. Doesn't sound like much time for testing, right? Well it seems Fiat has this software and development practice that allows for less prototype testing and more simulation. Or, if the reader is interested in buying the car, better wait for 2009 and let the first buyers participate in the process...

More info: the car has most of the underpinnings shared with the Bravo (another reason for doing less testing), except for the rear suspension that will be of multilink type. This will have effects on luggage space that will be less than the 400L found in the Bravo.