CAR TRAVEL Irish Car & Travel Magazine
TAKING YOU PLACES WITH THE BEST WRITERS
Blowing hot and cold in Munich Postcard from La Boca
FEATURE I recently had the opportunity to watch BMW cars being tested in the 35degC heat of a North African desert, and in the -20degC cold of northern Norway's mid-winter. And then another one hauling a trailer up a mountainside in the south of France. All in the space of one day, and without leaving one building. That's because the German premium carmaker has opened a new â‚Ź130m centre in Munich where it can put a car through as much simulated testing in a day as would have taken many months in 'real world' extreme climates. The Energy & Environmental Test Centre (ETC) has five thermal testing areas, one of which includes the largest environmental wind tunnel in the automotive industry. The facility can test a car's ability to withstand extremes of temperature from -30degC to +55degC, in simulated rain from drizzle to monsoon levels of 9,000 litres/hr, and with manufactured snow to the same quality as is found in Sweden's Nordkapp. An Altitude test chamber can simulate environments from -200 metres to 4,200 metres. The tests can be done at simulated speeds of up to 250km/h without the test car ever leaving the special rooms. Slopes, stops and twists on many real routes can be factored in. For instance, one programme reproduces a 100km mix of motorway and hill driving of a road in the south of France, the car pulling a trailer. Typical temperature and humidity settings are factored, changing as the computerised elevation alters. Some 200 sensors on the car monitor what's happening. In the Cold Test facility water was sprayed to form ice at a predetermined level on a car at 20degC. Then the engine was started while special cameras linked to computers evaluate the time and way that the frost is cleared. The cost may seem like a big investment, but the business case made such sense that when the proposal to build the facility went before the BMW Board it received one of the fastest approvals ever for any project submitted to them. The big savings are in not having to bring cars in development and highly skilled people to locations around the globe, and even then not being sure of having the desired conditions. A 'tour' around the world through the test systems can be achieved in eight hours. During such a 'drive', for instance, a new model's air conditioning system can be tested
Winter in summer M
and calibrated to work in a range of different locations, including Anchorage, Colorado, an African desert, and Dubai. Equally, the ability to test and retest in absolutely the same conditions represents another major plus. Individual components can be minutely tested and improved. "If we have a negative result we can react immediately," one engineer said as he pointed out how a tail-light cluster had been designed to minimise the chance of it being covered while driving in snow. The only environments which are not simulated at ECT are dirty and dusty conditions, which are dealt with in another BMW facility. In these days of climate change
upsetting local weather patterns, BMW has found a way of being sure the weather is right for their testing needs. Whatever the weather. Brian Byrne.
n high Munich
Five for Giulietta When the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta, replacement for the 147, gets here at the end of the year, it will have a fully-fledged 5-star Euro NCAP crash test rating in its marketing armoury. The car was given a 97 percent adult occupant rating, 85 percent for child occupant, 63 percent for pedestrian safety and 86 percent for safety assist systems such as the standard ESP.
SLS coming soon There won’t be many of them, because demand is sure to outstrip allocation to Ireland. But there are advance orders for the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG supercar which rolls out on Irish roads next month. The gull-wing doors car is powered by a 6.3 571hp V8 which offers a 0-110km/h time of 3.8 seconds. The car has been voted the ‘most beautiful car in the world’ by 200,000 readers of the prestigious German car magazine, AUTO BILD.
Alvis comeback The Alvis brand name is set to come back into production. Production of Alvis cars ceased in 1968. The designs, historical items, and parts were taken over by a group of former employees who set up the Red Triangle company in order to service the needs of owners and fans. Now a new Alvis Car Company has been set up following the legal transfer of the original car trademarks to Red Triangle. Owner Alan Stote says the company will reintroduce selected Avis models as newly-built cars.
REVIEW Since the current Mazda2 came along, it and the more recent Hyundai i20 are my acknowledged current favourite superminis. Which had me prepared to squeeze it into an already bulging portfolio of newer cars which I've been booked into. It's the kind of thing that can set one up for disappointment. To think, 'I wish I hadn't done that'. The bright appeal of a brand new model sometimes doesn't last all the way through the first couple of years of its model life. Anyhow, the Sensu variant still looked the smart part when I picked it up. The Mazda2, Ford Fiesta, and SEAT Ibiza are the three best lookers in the segment at the moment, each with their own distinctive bits but all looking sexy. Sensu, by the way, is a Japanese term for the folding fan that is part of what all of us in the west understand as being a typical ladies' accessory in that part of the world. In this application, it folds alloy wheels, aircon, extra airbags, steering wheel radio controls and electrically operated mirrors into a longer list of extra goodies. The more powerful 86hp version of the 1.3 petrol engine was part of the review car's package. Mazda Ireland says the extra specification is worth €3,000. But they're only charging €800 more for it. There are some people would charge you that for the wheels alone, so it does sound like a deal. The inside is pretty decent, with a smart dashboard treatment. Simple but adequate and clear instrumentation. Plenty of headroom front and rear. Seats in the review car with a bit of pizazz included. A boot that holds as much as would be reasonably required by a crew of three. When they brought in this
generation, Mazda made a strong point that they had saved significant weight in the interests of better fuel economy. But does that mean it isn't strong? Nope, at least not as far as the ENCAP crash test programme found, giving the Mazda2 a full five-star report card. Though as I write this, I have just reported that Ford in Ireland will shortly be providing ESP as standard in the Fiesta, which will notionally give the Ford an edge. The economy of 5.2L/100km (54mpg) is more than acceptable, with the 129g/km CO2 putting the car in the B band for tax purposes. If you opt for the 1.4 diesel option, it'll save you €52 a year in Road Tax, but would you bother at a normal family average annual mileage, when you'd pay an extra grand for the diesel? I like the 1.3 petrol unit. Along with the light weight, it makes for a peppy small car in the city ruck, with the ability to get a quick sprint going if an opportunity occurs to get across
the line ahead of the competition. Out on the open highway, a little road noise from the tyres was the only distraction. Ride on a good surface felt a tad tight, but on the increasingly more common worse ones actually absorbed the holes and cracks well. There can be no fault ascribed to the operation of the main controls, with a snick-snick (zoom-zoom?) gearshifter and a nice light clutch. My only real gripe was at night, when the orangered instruments lighting annoyed me and rendered the information fuzzier. So was it worth squeezing the car in to my schedule? Yep. The possible disappointment didn't happen. At a stage close to halfway through its model life, the Mazda2 is holding its attraction. Scrappage price starts at €11,435 and makes me regret that my wife's current car is only seven years old. For non-scrappage you can get into a Mazda2 from €14,935. Still tempting. Brian Byrne.
OLD FAVOURITE: Volvo P1800, 1961-1973 Volvo commissioned Italian chassis designer Frua to come up with proposals for a sports car. The bodies were built by Scotland's Pressed Steel company and shipped to Jensen for completion of the cars. A new Volvo engine was produced, with 100bhp output, and the first cars finally rolled off the line in mid 1961. Production was eventually moved to a new factory in Gothenburg. By this time, 6,000 cars had been sold. The car was already achieving cult status thanks to its use by Roger Moore in his 'Saint' TV series ... he also had a copy for his personal use. There were some minor modifications in 1965, including
a new grille and bumpers. The engine got more punch and a soft top version was offered as an external conversion a year later. For 1967, the keynote upsweep of the side styling was dropped. A more powerful version was made available for the US, with 135bhp from the engine. In 1969, a 2-litre engine replaced the original 1.8, with 130bhp on tap and electronic fuel injection. It also had disc brakes all round. A cross between an estate and a hatchback was introduced in 1971, with a full glass rear door, designated the ES. In mid-1973 the last 1800ES was rolled out, after almost 47,500 of the iconic car had been produced.
Postcard from La Boca There's a bust of Admiral William Brown, the Irishman who founded the Argentine Navy, in the La Boca area of Buenos Aires. It overlooks a harbour which, thanks to generations of corruption and a waste disposal mafia, is now reckoned to be the most polluted body of water in South America. Behind Brown's memorial is the Caminito, a triangle of streets famous for its bright colours and tango cafes. Individuals selling paintings with tango and local architectural themes vie with street tango performers for the attention of any visitors. The colours are from when the section was renovated as an artists' centre under the direction of one Quinquela Martin. The Caminito is busy with daytime tourists, and there's a strong police presence. The policemen are very polite and helpful, though I was told that this is a fairly latter-times phenomenon. "They've had training in being people-friendly," I was told. "They weren't always like that." But the police aren't there after dark. Nor are the tourists. La Boca is off-limits then to all but locals. They effectively govern themselves, independent of the city authority. In every way. The paintings, for instance, are all individual, but no outsider can get into the business, which is an integral part of the local
independent economy. Where once other citizens could wander freely and enjoy the cafes and their famous music in the evenings, they can't do that any more. "When I was young it was the place to come," says Alicia, a city native. "Since the eighties, not any more. It's unsafe at night. I miss it." Then wistfully, but without any real hope, "maybe someday we'll be able to come down here again?" Coming down in the comfort of the coach we had passed the famous 'Boca Juniors' soccer stadium where, amongst others, Maradonna learned his trade. Under its looming presence a homeless man lived in one of its streetside indentations, complete with a full metal bed and his worldly good stacked under it. As the dark began arriving, we headed back to our bus. Presumably those new-friendly policemen were also leaving. Admiral Brown stayed, his expression unchanging even in the stink of the harbour over which he watches for eternity.
NEW LOOK FOR KIA CEE’D RANGE. The Kia cee’d range has been beautifully facelifted for 2010. The exterior features Kia’s new family ‘tiger nose’ grille and the new interior boasts a smart new look steering wheel, a new design for the centre fascia and a 6 speed gearbox. The beauty however, is more than skin deep – the new cee’d_sw is superbly engineered for an even more assured ride. Kia’s super-efficent 1.6 CRDi diesel engine features even lower emissions and better fuel economy dropping the new 5dr cee’d to a remarkable €104 road tax. One thing, however, hasn’t changed: the unparalleled build quality which allows Kia to offer an unbeatable 7 year warranty on all our cars.
The new Kia cee’d range from €18,950 (cee’d_SW 1.6 D TX €19,820)
For more on the new cee’d and our unbeatable 7 year warranty visit your local Kia dealer or log on to www.kiamotors.ie
Every Kia now comes with a 7 year warranty. OFFICIAL FUEL CONSUMPTION FIGURES IN l/100km FOR THE KIA CEE’D and CEE’D_SW ARE: URBAN: 5.4 – 5.3, EXTRA URBAN: 4.1 – 4.0, COMBINED: 4.6 – 4.5. CO2 for more details. *Models shown may not be to Irish specification. Delivery and related charges are extra. Metallic paint extra. www.kiamotors.ie
Kia. Home of the 7 year warranty. EMISSIONS ARE: 122 â€“ 118g/km. Warranty is for 7 years / 150,000km and is subject to terms and conditions as defined in the ownerâ€™s warranty and service handbook. See kiamotors.ie