|24 Apr, 2017
S-class facelift (and new engines)
Enterring its 4th year of production, the current Mercedes S-class has
received a mid-life facelift. Key changes concentrate on the nose, i.e.
the front bumper intakes and headlights. Under the bonnet, the 5.5
twin-turbo V8 of S500 (S550) has been retired. Taking its place is the
newer 4.0-liter unit. Despite of downsizing, it is tuned to produce
slightly more power at 469 hp (+14hp) and 516 lbft (unchanged). Note
that the car is now rebadged S560, resurrecting a nameplate that
represented the ultimate
S-class from 1985-1990
. It is equipped with 4matic as standard.
The 4-liter twin-turbo V8 also powers the updated AMG S63. In this
case, its output is in the same tune as E63 S, i.e. 612 hp and 627
lbft. That is 27hp stronger but 37lbft weaker than the old motor. The
new engine is mated with a 9-speed MCT gearbox like the E63.
In the diesel side, Mercedes has finally improved its slightly
underpowered diesel V6 to match its Munich and Ingolstadt rivals. The
new engine is a 3-liter straight-6 ! It has 2 states of tune: in S350d
it produces 286hp and 442lbft, while S400d produces 350hp and 516lbft.
Both feature aluminum block and steel pistons, 2-stage turbocharging
and for the first time the use of Camtronic VVL on Mercedes diesel
The petrol six-cylinder will also switch to 3-liter straight-six. It
will feature an electric charger beside normal exhaust gas turbo.
However, it will be launched later in the year thus the final spec. has
not been revealed. Expect at least 408 hp.
|24 Apr, 2017
|BMW M4 CS
M4 CS (Club Sport) sits between the M4 with Competition package and the
limited edition M4 GTS. Its engine is tuned to deliver 460 hp, 29hp up
from the standard M4 and 10hp more than the Competition pack, but 40hp
less than the GTS. However, its 442 lbft of max. torque matches the
latter, even without the help of water injection. BMW didn't reveal
what changes have been made to the engine, but a higher boost pressure
Equipped with DCT box as standard, the car is 22 kg lighter than the
equivalent M4. Weight savings comes from carbon-fiber bonnet (in
addition to CFRP roof), diffusers and rear spoiler, as well as
lightweight seats, interior door panels and trims. The suspension setup
is just the same as the Competition pack.
BMW claims it will do 0-60 in 3.8 seconds, two-tenths quicker than the
standard car, and it matches exactly its arch-rival Mercedes-AMG C63 S
Coupe. Unfortunately, its exhaust note is unlikely.
|24 Apr, 2017
A-class sedan concept
Mercedes showed a concept A-class sedan in last week's Shanghai motor
show to preview the forthcoming production car, which will be built on
the next generation MFA platform and sold in China as a rival to Audi
A3 sedan and BMW 2-series sedan. It goes without saying that cars in
this segment need to have a tail to sell well in China.
The design of the car is quite good, smooth and has plenty of Mercedes
genes, if not as distinctive as the C-class. It is slightly shorter
than the latter, but wider. No technical details have been revealed,
but there should be few surprises.
|24 Apr, 2017
Honda Civic Type R retakes Nurburgring record
2 years ago, Honda Civic Type R turbo broke the Nurburgring lap record
for hot hatches and FWD cars with a lap time of 7min 50.63 sec. Since
then its time has been toppled by Volkswagen Golf GTi Clubsport S with
a margin of only 1.4 second. Now the latest Type R has retaken the
title at 7min 43.8s. What makes it faster? 10 extra horsepower, 12 kg
38 percent up in torsional rigidity, 34mm lower CoG and a multi-link
|14 Apr, 2017
F-Type 2.0T employs MultiAir-style VVL
As many other motoring journalists reported a couple of days ago,
Jaguar F-Type is adding a new 2-liter Ingenium petrol turbo engine good
for 300 horsepower as an entry-level option. However, few noticed that
the engine has a special feature: an electrohydraulic variable intake
valvetrain that offers fully variable valve lift. After examining its
photos and text description in the press release, I found its hardware
is very similar to Fiat's MultiAir valvetrain, which is also
electrohydraulic-actuated. First, let us have a look into Fiat's design:
< Fiat MultiAir
Now let's turn to the new 300hp Ingenium engine:
Isn't it very
similar? In this engine, the intake camshaft does not actuate the
valves directly. Instead, each cam lobe pushes a hydraulic pump through
roller finger follower. It pumps the oil to push the intake valve. At
the other end of the oil path, there is an oil chamber with integral
solenoid valve. When the solenoid valve is closed, the oil cannot enter
the chamber, thus it can go to the valve actuator only and realize the
maximum valve lift (11mm). Conversely, when the solenoid valve is
opened, oil can enter the chamber thus fails to push the valve
actuator, resulting in zero lift or a complete valve closure. By
controlling the timing of the solenoid valve opening, the engine can
achieve fully variable valve lift.
Apart from VVL, the engine also employs dual-VVT, of course. They are
configured such that, at low engine load, the intake valve opens later,
closes earlier and low valve lift is used. At part load, it opens
earlier, close earlier and medium valve lift is used. For full power,
the intake valve opens for the longest duration and highest lift.
Although the concept is similar to MultiAir, the Ingenium employs DOHC,
unlike Fiat which uses SOHC to drive both intake valves (through
electrohydraulic) and exhaust valves (directly). This should allow the
Jaguar engine to rev higher.
Like BMW's Valvetronic, Jaguar also uses the fully VVL function instead
of throttle butterfly to control engine output (although the latter is
retained), so that pumping loss is reduced under part and low load.
The result? 300hp is quite remarkable for a 2-liter four. Its maximum
torque is also very good at 295 lbft, released from merely 1500 rpm -
the latter is partly contributed by the use of a twin-scroll
turbocharger. Compared with the existing entry-level F-Type 3.0
supercharged V6 with 340hp, the four-pot engine cuts fuel consumption
by 16 percent, and the whole car is 52 kg lighter. Weight distribution
is improved from 51:49 to 50:50 as a result. As for performance, its
top speed is 7 mph lower at 155mph and 0-60 mph takes 0.4s longer at
5.4s. The car is sold for £50,000 at its home market, just
£3600 less the V6. Technology isn't cheap.
|14 Apr, 2017
Another headline for the big cat. Jaguar F-Pace becomes the first
SUV-crossover to win the World Car of the Year title, which is a big
disappointment to AutoZine. Even more disappointing, second place VW
Tiguan and third place Audi Q5 are also SUVs. Why not simply change the
title to WSUVOTY?
|12 Apr, 2017
Challenger SRT Demon
I doubt if I have ever seen any production cars as single-minded as
this one. The new Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is NOT the GT3 RS version
of Hellcat, which would have been far more versatile. In fact, it is
designed purely for drag race. All mechanical changes are made to
improve 1/4-mile standing start as far as possible, even at the expense
of handling or overall performance in the real world. Let's start from
It is still the 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 like the Hellcat, but
FCA gave it a larger (2.7 liters instead of 2.4 liters) supercharger
which offers a higher (1.0 bar instead of 0.8 bar) boost pressure. A
larger airbox is fed by the prominent scoop on the hood. The V8 is
allowed to rev to 6500 rpm, 300 rpm higher than before. Its fuel pump
is upgraded to supply more fuel. Its pistons and con-rods are stronger,
too. Drinking regular fuel, it is already good for 808 hp and 717 lbft
of torque, compared with 707 hp and 650 lbft of the Hellcat. When it is
fed with special, 100 Octane fuel, the output is lifted to 840 hp and
770 lbft. Both easily crown it the most powerful production car in the
world. By the way, "production car" here means a production run of 3300
To aid drag race, Demon goes as far as using the air conditioning's
refrigerant to help cooling the charger cooler of the supercharger.
This allows the car to recover faster after each drag run.
Traction is another key issue for faster acceleration. The Demon uses
Nitto NT05R drag race tires (but street legal). At 315/40R18, they are
2-inch smaller than the Hellcat's but 40mm wider. The contact patch
area is increased by 15 percent, while total traction is doubled.
Meanwhile, the smaller alloy wheels are lighter, but they cannot fit
the Hellcat's 390mm front brake discs, so they are downgraded to 360mm
items. Nevermind, this car is all about acceleration, so who cares
To cope with the extra torque, the automatic transmission's torque
converter is upgraded. It is also designed for higher torque
multiplication so to enhance standing-start acceleration further. The
propshaft and axle are strengthened.
Drag race performance also dictates the suspension setup. To enhance
traction, the springs are actually softened (by 35% front and 28%
rear), ditto the anti-roll bars (-75% / -44%) and adaptive damper
setting. In addition to reduced negative camber at the rear wheels, the
rear tires can remain in contact with the tarmac under harder
Handling in corners? Should be a nightmare, of course!
If you are hardcore, you can opt for weight-saving options which cut
around 90 kg from the Hellcat's 2018 kg kerb weight. These go as far as
ditching not only audio, sound deadening materials and the rear seats
but also the front passenger seat!
The result? A muscle car claiming 0-60 mph in 2.3 seconds and quarter
mile in 9.65 seconds at 140 mph. Mind you, it will lift up its front
wheels during such a drag run.
No, that's not the car for our taste, of course.
|7 Apr, 2017
Civic Si goes turbocharged
As before, Civic Si is the last stop before the ultimate Type R. The
new generation Civic Si is again available in both coupe and sedan
forms. The outgoing 2.4-liter VTEC motor has been replaced with a tuned
version of the 1.5-liter Earth Dream direct-injection turbo engine that
produces 205 hp and 192 lbft, up 4 horses and 22 lbft from the old
engine, although it is no where as willing to rev. Power goes through a
6-speed manual gearbox and a helical LSD to the front wheels. The
suspension gets stiffer springs, anti-roll bars and bushings, while
adaptive dampers are adopted for the first time. The stiffer upper
control arms of the front suspension come directly from Type R.
Besides, the car is fitted with larger front brakes and 235/40R18 tires.
|6 Apr, 2017
turns to multi-material ASF
As shown in this picture, the next generation Audi A8, to be launched
in July, turns to using multi-materials instead of aluminum to
construct its ASF (Audi Space Frame) chassis. Aluminum content drops to
58 percent, while the remaining consists of carbon-fiber reinforced
plastic (the rear bulkhead), ultra-high strength steel (side rails, A
and B-pillars), conventional steel and magnesium (front tower brace).
Overall, its torsional rigidity is lifted by 24 percent, but the
chassis also gains 50 kg.
|1 Apr, 2017
take over Volkswagen
News: Hybrid Kinder Group (HKG), the Hong Kong-listed, China-controlled
automotive startup, is in secret negotiation to take over the
HKG was first known to the public just last month when it presented a
plug-in hybrid kinder choculate saloon called H777 in Madagascar motor
show (see news
). Although the
company has virtually no track records, in China it is reckoned to be
most promising new energy car maker since CYD (Copy Your Dreams), as it
masters the state-of-the-art technology of choculate-fed
range-extender. The company hires 1194 employees in Hong Kong, about
800 of whom are marketing guys or liars.
HKG H777 concept,
whose H stands for Haven-has-a-place-reserved-for-me!
Signs about the acquisition plan leaked late last month as former
Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech determined to sell his 14.7 percent
stakes in Porsche SE, the holding company that controls 52 percent
voting shares of Volkswagen AG, following a series of dispute with the
Porsche family headed by his cousin Wolfgang Porsche. Since then Piech
has been in talks with various potential buyers, ending up with an
agent called LOCPG, which seemed to represent the central government of
According to insiders, Piech was deeply touched by the welcome dog meat
feast he was served by the Chinese side since none of his relatives are
willing to dine with him for many years. Besides, he was gifted a calligraphy
penned by the head of LOCPG which is estimated to be worth HK$18.8
million (US$2.4 million), making him wished he should have learned
calligraphy instead of building Bugattis. Moreover, Piech said the
price offered by the communist party was simply irresistible, easily
trumping Donald Trump's. Therefore, he signed the agreement shortly
after drinking 3 glasses of Maotai.
Apart from Dr. Piech, all other members of the Piech family are going
to sell their stakes to HKG as well. In addition, Mark Philipp,
Ferdinand Oliver and Kai Alexander Porsche, the sons of "Butzi"
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, may join the departure, too. Butzi Porsche
was the designer of the original 911 but during his life he was never
assigned any management positions in the family business. It is
believed that his sons thought their father did not get the respect he
deserved. If they sell their stakes, HKG will be able to take a
controlling stake in Porsche SE hence also the Volkswagen group.
Left: Ferdinand Piech; Right:
Mark Philipp, Ferdinand Oliver and Kai Alexander Porsche.
China has been pursuing to take a significant share in global car
recent years. Under the 13th 5-Year Plan, its car industry is set to
expand outside the domestic market and promote "The Chinese Dream".
With unlimited support from the mother country, HKG is wealthy enough
to buy not only Wolfsburg but also Bayern Munich or even Messi !
According to insiders knowing the matter, HKG chose Volkswagen purely
because of the dieselgate crisis. The firm is confident that its
choculate-fed range extender hybrid technology will be able to replace
the troublesome diesel engines in Volkswagen's lineup. Hopefully this
will boost the price of cocoa futures contracts the company has just
bought. In shorter terms, HKG can share its common module cheating
software platform with Volkswagen to help it pass emission tests. This
software is fully compliant with the laws as it does not contain any
cheating codes, although it leaves a backdoor for military-grade
Chinese hackers to rewrite the engine control software to pass emission
tests. Hopefully this will save enormous money and unlock the profit
potential of Volkswagen.
Before ending up with VW, the senior management of HKG also considered
General Motors seriously, but the latter's withdrawal from European
market recently put them off, as this means they will not have free
vacations to London, Paris and Milan to please their wives and
mistresses. Moreover, its CEO, Wolfman Ying, reckoned the name of
General Motors sounds too general, not special enough to catch the
attention of Chairman Xi, so it is best left to Sergio Marchionne, who
has been chasing the love of GM for life. In contrast, Volkswagen, or
People's Car, sounds right to the taste of the Communist Party,
according to Ying.
To apply for bank loans, HKG commissioned a numerology maestro to
review the acquisition plan. He discovered that the Volkswagen logo
secretly hides its destiny as a Chinese possession: by flipping its V
and W upside down, it becomes the Chinese character for "People" ! As a
result of the discovery, HKG has designed a new logo for Volkswagen:
The basic design of the new logo is largely unchanged, although its
main color is altered for luck, something VW desperately needed. The
big star in the middle represents Chairman Xi, who is surrounded by the
people or body guards, depending on your view. The 4 smaller stars are
said to represent Four
, a reminder that Chinese people have finally
realized "the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation". However,
another source close to the original designer said they are just added
to fill up the space.
The biggest hurdle to the purchase is likely to be the so-called
"Volkswagen Law" of
Lower Saxony, the German state where Volkswagen headquarters located.
It guarantees the state government, which owns 20 percent
stake and holds 2 seats on the board, can reject any major strategic
decisions. However, it is expected the Lower Saxony will not block the
sale under the threat of embargo by China, because the people of
Lower Saxony love to wear Chinese socks and underwear, cannot live
Once the acquisition is completed, HKG will launch a massive reform
called "Great Leap Foward". The core element of this reform will be
replacing the German sausages with Lap Cheong
employee canteens, which is set to be the most ambitious cost cutting
program implemented by Volkswagen in decades. However, this plan is
likely to face strong opposition from the powerful labour union, which
holds half of the 20-seats supervisory board.
address the problem, HKG plans to revise the employee Code of Conduct
with reference to the Basic Law of Hong Kong, which is probably the
cleverest law in the world. Under the new CoC, Volkswagen employees
will have freedom to choose what to eat, and the chefs will have
freedom to decide what to cook, as long as the choices shall "demonstrate the love
loyalty to the company
". In case of disputes, the CoC is always
subjected to the interpretation of Beijing HQ, of course.
Brilliantly, depending on management needs the interpretation of CoC
could be just as flexible as MQB platform. Sometimes for the interest
company, "white" can be interpreted as "black", "deer" can be
interpreted as "horse", the sum of 2 and 2 could be 5, and sausage
could mean strictly Lap Cheong. This demonstrates an unprecedented
level of customization to the taste of Big Boss. If a
labour board member is found violating the interpretation, he will be
consigned to history and end up in Lap Cheong, demonstrating his last
and loyalty to the company. Over time, only good guys will be left in
the boardroom, and perfect harmony will be achieved. Hopefully this
will call an end to the boardroom chaos troubling Volkswagen in the
past 5 years.
As for the very important CEO position, HKG has already handpicked a
Agent 777 might not be as romantic as 007 or as sexy as Scarlett, but
she has wealth of
experience in dealing with complicated situations and is highly capable
to work under immense pressure, obviously. Most important, she never
Big Boss. Let us celebrate for the newly selected Chief Executive!
Happy April 1st and good luck Volks !
(Sorry, you need to be a Hongkonger to fully understand this article.)