Perfect numbers :  
50 : 50
 "As Rigid as a Sedan" claimed Honda. 

For an open top Roadster, side impact protection is usually provided by strengthening door sills, which inevitably raise the sills thus making in and out more difficult. S2000'd rather strengthen the chassis rails by connecting them to the central transmission tunnel. This forms a "X-bone". As the transmission tunnel is even higher than side sills, it provides even higher rigidity.


Time Tunnel

Adolf Hilter's Beetle

We heard Dr. Ferdinand Porsche created the Volkswagen (not yet called Beetle before British took over the Wolfsburg plant in 1946) under funding from Hilter. During world war II, the Volkswagen was converted to military vehicle serving Nazer's army in North Africa. Its air-cooled engine suited for use in desert. The picture shows one of these cars captured by British forces in Lybia, 1943.
What an Ad !  
Can you spot the difference between 98 and 99 A4 ? This advertisement reads as follow :  

It's not your eyesight that needs testing. 
It's the car.

To appreciate the improvement we've made to the new Audi A4, you'll need to move closer. A lot closer. Please call 0345 699 777 now to arrange a test drive.

Reader's Letter

Hi Mark, 

I would really say that you did a fantastic job on the F360. Gathering reports from around the world, you have given us a full insight which IMHO, no other website has so far acheived. Regarding to the IS200, I think toyota did a commendable effort on it, considering the present boring line-up of their cars. Also, the aftermarket tunning companys seem to be supporting the car, judging by the many products on offer at this year's auto salon. It will be interesting to see how well it performs on the sales chart. Asian buyers tend to prefer the reliabilty, economical fuel consumption and affordable spare parts of Japanese cars. Most car enthusiast go for the Civic SiR and Integra at the lower end of the market (1600cc). When it comes to the higher-end (2000cc). They are divided into two camps. One going for the 320i and the other going for the WRX. One is refined while the other is raw. The IS200 is rite smack in between these 2. The IS200 has the some refinement of the 3 series and some of the tunning potential of the WRX. The best compromise in a compact sporting executive 

Having said all these, the 156 2.0TS enters the equation. It has all the style and perforamnce you would want. But wats wrong ? It isnt very well supported by the aftermarket tunning companys. All car enthusiast like to scoup up their car, and thats the minus of the 156. We would certainly like to see what Honda has to offer after their 5-star S2000...... 

Derrick Chan 

I totally agree with you regarding the Lexus IS 200 review. Especially the comment that asian manufacturers often need to do 120% as well to get the same amount of respect and passion as European or American cars. Even great cars like the GS 400 does get treated with cynicism by American auto-journalists as they called the power as being.. "Obnoxious". I'm not sure if it is racism or they can't accept Japan or other asian countries can build great cars. I still do remember in the mid 90's when Japan bashing was considered patriotic, and hate crimes against asians where popular. I even heard of GM auto workers beating a student from HK to death as they thought he was Japanese. I think this can still be seen in American magazines at times. Many magazines are too afraid or depends too heavily on money from the BIG 3 to write very honest reviews. I saw a quick survey at another automotive Ezine where people were asked what is in their opinion the best auto manufacturer in the world. #1 Answer was Ford!  Not Benz... Not Lexus... Not Ferrari.. 
I think its great that gas prices have nearly doubled in North America, this I'm sure will lead to the end of over sized SUVs and trucks. 

- Ken Kubotani


I really like your site - lots of really good information and interesting bits. However, I was a bit surprised to see that you had a mis-captioned picture in your chassis section (for spaceframe chassis). The picture on the left is a Caterham 21 not a 1957 Lotus 7. While the 21 is based on the 
Caterham Seven (itself based on the Lotus Seven Series 3), it has a number of changes to the chassis which are visible in the picture (e.g. pyramid section at the rear of the engine bay and additional triangulation diagonals over the front suspension). 

Perhaps you wonder how I know this - the picture is of my 21! No problem with you using it, but please make sure it is captioned correctly. :-) 

Keep up the good work on the site. 

Andrew Edney 
Caterham 21 Registrar


No more SUV, please.

"They have a regulation allowing much more pollutant"
This year, Sport Utility Vehicles are going to account for nearly 60% of USA’s new car sales. What’s more, the trend is still growing. These popular SUV consists of 4-wheel-drive offroaders and pickups, usually weighing in excess of 2 tons. I can’t quite understand the American love affair of these monsters. 

A typical family of a developed country consist of 4 members and 2 cars, one for the husband and one for the wife. In United States the car to people ratio is even approaching 1. Most people live in cities or country side nearby. And the call for environmental protection is increasing year by year. Considering such background, what modern human need is a small car being able to carry 4 people and weighing no more than 1000kg, drinks 3 litres of gas for every 100 kilometers and with a dimension to enable parking at ease. SUV ? No way. 

Surveys confirmed that most of the time your vehicle carries only 1 or 2 people including you, this makes a 2 tons SUV nonsense for everyday use. Instead of SUV, the most logical vehicle is a 2-seater named Smart. Commercially it has been proved as a failure, but I maintain that the failure is due to overprice and its flaw technical design, not because of the concept as a tiny city car. 

Anyway, SUV is never the most efficient way to move people. There are many MPV can carry 7 people with comfort. They tip the scale at 1500-1700kg, with all independent suspensions and multi-valve V6 but without the gas-wasting 4-wheel-drive. What SUV wins over MPV is off-road ability. It is understandable that the agricultural area of Southern USA need SUVs to travel on muddy roads, but when you see SUV also dominates the streets of Los Angeles, New York and the Silicone Valley you know the world is really going crazy. Among all these SUVs, how many of them really need to go offroad ? 

Anyone have been in Hong Kong must know that this city never need SUVs. However, Rover Discovery and Mitsubishi Pajero are common scene in here. Most people use them to travel to picnic sites nearby (just 

behind the city), but every time I saw them I can’t find any mud on their body. Moreover, the roads to countryside are better than most British or French country roads, at least there is cement covering the surface. 

Someone said they want SUV for all-weather ability. Pardon ? It’s not the question of SUV, it’s about 4-wheel-drive only. A Subaru Legacy goes as well on wet or snow while providing superior handling and ride comfort. Moreover, even the Swedish are not very keen about 4-wheel-drive, as you can find only the minority of Volvo S70 equips with 4wd. Ridiculously, the most SUV-alike Swedish car is the Volvo V70XC, which is primarily designed for the US market. 

Another popular reason for defending the SUV is the superiority of crash protection. All of us know big cars (or more accurately speaking is heavy car) transfer less force to the occupants than small cars during a crash, simply because of the conservation of momentum. Therefore a 2.5 ton SUV crash face to face to a 1 ton Civic must favour the former. In other words, we can also say the popularity of SUV is harming other conventional road users. However, a SUV crash into another SUV won’t be so good. The law of conservation of momentum won’t favour any one of them, so both will be hurt severely, although the larger crumble zone of SUV still has an edge over normal cars. One day, when every car on the road become SUV, you might see a new trend of BUV (Bus Utility Vehicle) start, each weighing in excess of 10 tons in order to have superior crash protection against SUV, just like today’s SUV versus normal cars. Undoubtedly, to upgrade safety by means of adding weight and size is nonsense. 

Since there is not a single reasonable explaination for the popularity of SUV, I can’t help thinking this is a fashion driven by emotion. A friend of mine told me she was dreaming for a Jeep (she even didn’t know "Jeep" is a brand name rather than a term equivalent to off-roader.)  Why ? "It looks cool !" replied her. I guess most other people think the same. They want SUV not because of any

practical reason but because they like the idea. An example is Toyota RAV 4, which once dominated here before the arrival of CR-V. It could win any beauty contest but off-road ability is nearly zero. The same for CR-V and HR-V. In here and Japan, a large portion of the sales of Lexus RX300 are the front-wheel-drive version, the conclusion couldn’t be clearer. 

For "cool look", American is paying heavy price : inferior performance inspite of heavyweight engine, awful handling, poor ride from the non-independent or even leaf spring suspensions, premium price (profit margin is much higher than other cars) and most important is the impact to environment. 

You might not know, in the US SUVs are excluded from the emission regulation for normal cars. They have a regulation allowing much more pollutant. Right now the Clinton government is planning to raise the requirement for SUV to align with cars. Undoubtedly, Big 3 is protesting against this so it is unlikely to be fully effective until 2007. 

Even by 2007, Federal emission regulation does not limit the so-called "non-pollution gas" - carbon dioxide, which leads to green house effect to not only US but all over the world. No matter how clean the engine is, the amount of CO2 emission is always proportional to fuel consumption. With their 2 tons weight and old technology engines, SUVs are inherent enemies to fuel efficiency as well as the environment. 

2 years ago an international environment conference focused on the emission of CO2, during which the US government was pressured by EU and Japan to accept a strict time table to reduce CO2 emission. With the popularity of SUV still growing, this target will never be fulfilled. 

The root of the problem is fuel price. Nowhere in the world, excluding oil-export countries, has gas price lower than the US. Low fuel price policy leads to big engines, big cars and big SUVs. Pershaps the US need another oil crisis to force car makers return to develop compact cars, small and fuel-efficient engines. 

- Mark Wan.

Copyright© 1999 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine