Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The future of the Focus RS

Despite all the game-changing attributes of the Focus RS we suspect that, had the economic crisis arrived a bit earlier or the development process took some more months, this fantastic car might have been cancelled. And therefore we also suspect that Ford might not be considering a future replacement at this stage. Please don’t do such thing, the future of the Focus RS should be approached in a “911 style”.

The 911 reference is obviously a Porsche inspiration and on how the 911 changes through generations with evolutionary changes. This approach is critical in order to keep low development and investment costs and assure that the legend continues… building the icon! So the next RS should be approved right now and a cheap development program prepared based on the next generation Focus. We can think of some evolutionary improvements: more refinement, some weight reduction, engine upgrade (possibly with direct injection), eventually the availability of a dual-clutch gearbox. We were thinking of adding AWD to the list… but now that Ford built the best FWD car on the planet it seems appropriate to continue being such reference. As long as Ford keeps building and developing the Focus RS, the auto industry might have produced a new icon.

Focus RS - another fan video

Another video from some fan checking the press launch. Wonderfull exhaust sound from the best FWD car in the planet.

Ford Focus RS on the Nürburgring

French Sport-Auto managed 8:10 in the Nurburgring. The car should work well there with the huge power and aero-package.

Ford Focus RS - hooligans

Watch out for some hooligan behaviour... but some nice shots in green and blue.

Focus RS - fan ride

You can see this is a special car when fans gather around the press launch for a closer look. This guy got a ride with a journalist and made this drool video.

Focus RS Danish test

I can't understand a word... but they show the RS in my favourite colour.

And here's the science

We have been watching the effects, this is the science:

Ford Focus RS - Impressions in "Frozen White"

This one in white would look even better with a dark panoramic roof. Or better yet, a carbon roof as in the BMW M3.

Ford Focus RS First Drive [Drivers Republic]

Another review. In a green unit, I hate this color. But listen carefully to Chris Harris...

Ford Focus RS driven

Let's start with Steve Sutcliff from Autocar. He is a reference journalist and a serious guy, hear what he has to say. The car here is white, very nice and sounding great.

Ford Focus RS day

Today auto-future is celebrating that we were wrong about the new Focus RS. The reader might remember one article about the Revocknuckle where besides describing the technology that would be made available in the new uber-Focus I expressed serious scepticism that such technology would eliminate torque steer in a 300hp FWD car.

But Ford proved me wrong. Not only the Focus RS puts all that power efficiently with the help of a limited slip front differential and controlled torque in the first gears but, according to the first reviews, it nearly eliminates torque steer effect. Better yet, some reviewers point out that the feedback that is still felt in the steering wheel adds another layer to a magnificent driving experience. On top of that one should notice a serious ride quality and a formidable engine sound. It’s great to have this car and the new Audi TT RS to remind us how fantastic 5-cylinder engines can sound.

So today is a celebration day, besides celebrating that auto-future was wrong we are celebrating a breakthrough in automotive technology. Ford moved the game in a serious manner, proving that one can have a 300hp FWD car with great traction, great steering feedback, fantastic handling and still a very good ride quality. This is Focus RS day.

Friday, March 27, 2009

EV Future: Lexus 2054

The image below shows one of my favourite EVs, the Lexus 2054 from the movie Minority Report. It’s a great design and one that fully uses the advantages of a full EV architecture allowing for a different design and great use of interior space.

The interesting part of the Lexus 2054 is that we don’t have to wait for year 2054 to drive a similar vehicle. The first generation of mass-market electric vehicles arrives in the first-half of the next decade so I guess a second generation of vehicles with in-wheel electric motors and a design similar to the Lexus EV could arrive around 2020. So definitely reality will beat science fiction on the future electric vehicle.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Opel Calibra

According to Autozeitung magazine, Opel is developing a coupe version of the next Astra. The novelty here is that the new car will adopt a more separate design and a new name, probably Calibra, in order to establish a tie with a sort of iconic model. This is not a new strategy as witnessed recently with VW and the Scirocco model, although I think that the Golf nameplate is today more iconic than the Scirocco. But it works nicely allowing to ask a premium for the derivative version and the Scirocco is indeed a fine car.

The technical bits of the new Calibra are predictable being based on the new Astra model. This is actually not a good thing if the Astra does not receive a multilink suspension at the rear. The Calibra nameplate deserves more technical excellence than a torsion beam. But then, this is a Opel so I guess one should not expect technical excellence.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Seat Ibiza break

Here it is, trying to look better than the car, which is an easy task... and yet it fails and looks even worse!

The thing is going to be named "sport-something". Sportacky, perhaps?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

EV Future: 2010 Mitsubishi i MiEV

A small video on the i MiEV. This is the one that will also arrive in Europe as a Peugeot.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Should we question BMW’s engineering?

BMW has always been an engineering-driven company. We can count on BMW for technical supremacy in different areas: best engines in the world (and consequently, the most awarded); excellence in handling; obsessive care for weight distribution; leadership in human-machine interface (yes, I hated i-drive too, but fact is, everyone copied them). More recently, with a market move towards increased efficiency and although being a sports-luxury company, BMW managed to also be leader in fuel consumption with their range of “efficient dynamics” technology.

So there should be no reason to criticize. However, according to recent rumours, it appears that BMW is working on a 4-door coupe version of the next 6-series. So far so good. But it has also been said that the new competitor to the Mercedes CLS and future Audi A7 would have a design without B-pillar and using rear doors in the style of the Mazda RX-8. All of this for further market differentiation. If this turns out to be true then it is a huge and unpleasant surprise. Because, being an engineering-excellence company I would not expect BMW to use such concept-car style technical solution.

A car without B-pillar would have seriously compromised passive safety and stiffness, something that BMW would not accept. So the structure has to be reinforced, highly reinforced, which means more weight… in a 4-door coupe BMW?... this can not happen, for sure. Or maybe BMW will have available superior materials such as composites, at competitive cost, in order to overcome the deficient design. But then they could still use them with a conventional design and further improve stiffness regarding the competition and/or reduce weight.

Either way, maybe the rumour is not true. But if this car is for real then I find disappointing that BMW would compromise sound engineering solutions for such a styling statement. The kind of car I would expect BMW to make is a Porsche Panamera fighter, with superior engines (that BMW has available), a CS-concept design (much better looking than the Panamera), and available AWD including the new DPC system that would destroy the Panamera in handling. To the folks at BMW: you have the tools to outgun Porsche so please don’t distract yourselves with styling statements.

This image from Auto-Bild looks nice, but please keep the B-pillar

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2010 Audi A8

Some new spyshots of the next Audi A8 have surfaced. It's interesting to notice how Audi is copying BMW's camouflage. We understand how Audi considers BMW its benchmark for everything, they even were the quickest to copy the i-drive system. And it seems they don't copy everything because they have to use all those engines and bits from skodas and Seats. But the camouflage?...

And what's that in the rear?... a mini Bangle-butt?...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hyundai iQ-fighter

The cute thing below is a new Hyundai model expected to fight the toyota iQ. Or maybe it's a bit bigger to compete against Fiat 500/Ford Ka. Anyway, it looks great, but it's still a CGI.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kia Forte coupe

This is a spyshot of the next small FWD coupe from Kia. It's looking good and also has some nice wheels. Kia's design is going from strength to strength. But the brand still faces a big perception wall, at least in Europe. The American market should be a bit easier particularly considering the current offer of small affordable coupes.

Monday, March 09, 2009

2010 VW Touran

This CGI from Autozeitung shows their interpretation of the next Touran. This should be presented this year. The image shows a rather conservative evolution of the current car. Which is, by itself, a very boring design. VW should consider add a bit more sportiness to the design, or better yet, create a proper 5-seat mini-MPV that could be the sportier version while the 7-seat would be more utilitary. The Golf Plus doesn't play that game very well, it needs more space.

Friday, March 06, 2009

EV Future: Magna Steyr

This is so boring... the car's design, the suit making a speech... but it's highly relevant. Magna Steyr shows a concept car featuring their expertise in electric powertrain solutions. Remember that Magna was the chosen partner for the next Ford EV. It's interesting to notice that some of the push for electric cars is coming from suppliers like Magna.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

2010 Ford C-MAX Concept

This is the Iosis Max Concept. It shows the front design of the next C-Max. It looks predictable, in a good way, with the agressive Fod trapezoidal grille. The front is also relevant for the next generation Focus.

Much of the rest is typical concept-car stuff, but still one can expect to see the rear lights design in a future ford (C-Max or Focus?). BTW, the doors have a peculiar opening, very concept-car style but in reality the 7-seat C-Max will have sliding rear doors. The 5-seat will have conventional doors.