jueves, 8 de septiembre de 2011
lunes, 9 de mayo de 2011
If there has ever been a good time to buy a French car, this is it. Next month we Catalans will celebrate
domingo, 10 de abril de 2011
Motorsport at its finest is boring. I am talking about F1, but it's the same story in the World Rally Championship. For different reasons, a TV show of both of them is boring. I've had an idea, however that will make things far more interesting.
These days there is no close relationship between race cars and road cars. It doesn't matter how reliable a Citroën DS3 WRC is, production cars may fall apart anyway. Race cars are so heavily modified no one can rely on them to know about the road ones. And here is where my idea comes in.
I would make a race including all manufacturers and their best selling cars, in their best selling specs, in an oval circuit. Unlike
At 100mph, you'll be 2400 miles away in just one day, 72000 in a month and 864000 in a year. If a car can run a million miles in just one year, that would prove performance, reliability and durability in just one test. It would be dead boring, but at least it would give some consumer advice.
miércoles, 30 de marzo de 2011
I saw what appeared to be a BLS last friday. I really can't tell because I was driving myself and didn't have the time to read the badge.
The BLS is probably the biggest failure Cadillac has had in
I think it was the style, a diminished version of the CTS, that really plagued the car. It never had personality of its own, and frankly, the CTS might be many things, but not beautiful. GM tried to improve sales by offering a station wagon derivative, but that was a bigger failure. The BSL saloon wasn't beautiful, but the BLS station wagon was dead ugly. No sense of proportions, no verve, no passion. Just boxy, as all Cadillacs these days.
GM dropped the small caddy a few years ago, when they got rid of Saab. Surprisingly, Saab seems to be fine these days, and GM hasn't given any good news for the last two years.
domingo, 27 de marzo de 2011
Once again, millions of people have been fooled by the same old story. We were told that overtaking manoeuvres would be commonplace this year. That the new rules would make races interesting, fun, exciting. None of this has happened. There has been some overtaking, but the race itself has been as fun as a train race.
My solution includes missiles, cars on fire and naked women, but everybody with common sense tells me that it wouldn't work, that it's some kind of wet day-dream. Ok, I admit it, but I also have some properly good ideas. Here they are:
I would change the engine rules altogether. Carmakers don't sell small V8 engines, so I would let everybody use the engine they want. Therefore, we could see a turbocharged in-line four from Renault vs a naturally aspired Ferrari V12. And it would be fine, because Renault sells small turbocharged engines and Ferrari sells big V12's. Engines should last just one weekend, as the gearbox. I know this would let engineers get well over 1500hp, but that's exactly the idea. With no traction control, these monsters would be harder to drive, and pilots would have a hell of a job just trying not to crash. As today, no refuelling allowed, so the more powerful the engine, the more gas in the tank, the slower the car at the beginning, but also the faster at the end of the race.
The other item that should be changed is tires. There should be at least, four tire manufacturers involved, and the best four teams from last season couldn't share tire manufacturer. This would make tire manufacturers and F1 teams work together, trying to make the best out of both of them.
Finally, scoring should go as follows: 10 points for the winner, 7 for the second, 6 for the third, and so on. Pole and fastest lap get another extra point. This would make top pilots go faster when they ruin their race, having something to fight for when they are in the middle of nowhere.
lunes, 21 de marzo de 2011
In my last post, I wrote that the best car money can buy is called Porsche Panamera Turbo. Hence, you would expect, that's the one I'd buy if I could. But the answer is no, I probably wouldn't. I'd get a Maserati Quattroporte.
I have my reasons, and I think I shall explain them. To begin with, we must be aware that we are talking about two-hundred-grand-a-piece cars. If you add some extras, that is, and you will, because there are some fancy ones, and some extras that should be standard.
I would respect anyone that spends two hundred thousand dollars on a car and expects perfection. For them, Porsche created the Panamera Turbo. However, perfection isn't everything. Perfection is sometimes boring, and here there is the girl example.
Two guys meet after a five year hiatus, and they talk about their fiancées. One guy says his is beautiful, has a college degree and good manners. He shows a picture of her and she is a Charlize Theron look-a-like. The other guy just says: mine is younger and has bigger boobs. He also shows a picture of her and she looks like a porn star.
Everybody agrees that the first guy made the right choice, but that the other one is probably having more fun. And more troubles, but no one cares about that.
It's the same story with the Panamera and the Quattroporte. I know the Quattroporte will get to 170 mph once, and then breakdown in some weird nuclear meltdown style that defies the laws of physics. But its louder, has a great style and all the pantomime a supercar needs. I don't care about reliability, I care about fun, sheer excitement, passion. So, given the choice, I would let my bank account take care about its flaws whenever they show up and spend my money on the Quattroporte.
sábado, 12 de marzo de 2011
One of the most frequently asked question is which is the best car in the world. The main problem begins when we realize it's hard to tell why a car is better than another car, especially if both of them are good. I assume that the best car in the world has no major flaws, like unreliability, understeer or weird ergonomics that only fit to the designer's body. However, this just isn't enough so I've decided to make my own theory. I call it the 3G boxes for the perfect car.
There are three different categories the so-called best car in the world must excel, and all three of them have the G in their names, hence the 3G theory.
The first G stands for g-forces. The best car in the world is able to go to a track and race properly. Note that I didn't say it has to be a tarmac circuit. It can be any kind of racing facilities, but the car must be a winner's choice. So, whether it is a mud track or a GP circuit, the best car in the world is able to get there and humiliate its rivals.
The second G stands for GT. A GT is a car you can use on a daily basis, because it has the comfort features you need to live with it. This also means it must be reliable and that you can service it with no major difficulties.
The third and last G stands for g-strings. The best car in the world shows off. It attracts women and car enthusiasts alike. This means it has properly designed looks, personality -- if a car can have such a thing -- and charm.
Now that we know what we are looking for in the best car in the world, we can think about a few contenders. This is my top 3 and why I've chosen them against their competition.
- Bronze medal: Nissan GT-R. Probably one of the most ignored supercars, it's got everything in the 3G list. Loud, fast, and hi-tech, it only lacks a name (read, it isn't called Porsche) to be on the top
- Silver medal: Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The only mud-ready supercar in the world is so special it made it to second place.
- Gold medal: Porsche Panamera Turbo. Ferrari-like performance, S-Klasse confort, GT-R-track ready. It's huge, but agile. It's elegant, but sporty. And if you think ménage-a-trois are for the poor ones, you can bring three people with you to perform a decadent, albeit fun, orgy.
sábado, 5 de marzo de 2011
I will admit it right away, I am in love with a baby. She's more than beautiful, she's gorgeous. She's got the looks, the passion, the verve, she's got everything to blow up my mind. She's going to be the muse in my wildest fantasies, she's going to star my wettest dreams. I know she's dangerous, that she will take away many men's hearts and only a few lucky ones will ever get inside her.
She's called Aventador, she's Lamborghini's last baby child. She's everything a Lambo should be. Loud, dangerous, useless, powerful, beautiful, mad, and most of all, wild. She is exactly what the Countach would be if it were still alive.
There were two cars that really got me in the 1980's, the Ferrari 288 GTO and the Lamborghini Countach Quattrovalvole. Ferrari thought the 288 GTO was too beautiful and replaced it with the ugly F40. Yes, I've just said the F40 is ugly, and F50 is also ugly, and so is the Enzo. Ferrari hasn't built any beautiful car since 1984, it's just that nobody has realised it but me.
Lambo, on the other hand, hasn't had so many errors. They haven't had many chances anyway, but the Diablo was a badass looking car, and that's more than enough for me. And so it was the Murcielago. Maybe the Gallardo doesn't look quite as good as it should, but that's the only exception. And now our lovely bat (read Murcielago) has flown away and the Aventador has come along. I admit the Sesto Elemento concept did have better looks, but when it comes to road legal cars, the Aventador is as good as a car can be.
There is just one that may disappoint you, as it will disappoint many others. There are quite a few more exotic cars out there. The Bugatti Veyron, for example, is more expensive, more powerful, has a higher top speed... everything. Probably there are Pagani Zondas with more power too. But I don't care the slightest bit. None of them is the last of their breed. None of them has a heritage to look for. When it comes to ancestors, only the Porsche 911 has a past like the Aventador. While I respect, and love, the 911, when it comes to pure passion my heart says Lambo.
miércoles, 2 de marzo de 2011
We were told the A5 uses a shortened version of the A4 platform. However, Audi decided the A5 coupe was not enough and released the A5 Sportback, a 5 door version of the 3 door coupe. We were told the A5 Sportback uses a lengthened version of the A5 platform. Whether if that means it uses the same platform underneath the A4 or not, is still unknown.
Then there is pricing. The A5 coupe is more expensive than an equivalent A4, less expensive than the A5 cabrio and more expensive than the A5 Sportback. The Sportback is more expensive than the equivalent A4 sedan. There seems to be a little logic in it: the less practical it is, the more they charge you for it. Except for the A4 Avant, which is more practical than the sedan and more expensive.
This is what I think happened with all this mess in A4, A5, A5 Sportback: Audi had in mind that the A5 Sportback should be the A4 sedan, but they felt it was a little bit too risky, not enough mainstream. Then, they decided to use this crazy 4 door sedan coupe fashion the Mercedes CLS started to fix the idea. There would be a conventional A4, and the brilliant idea was released as the A5 Sportback.
So, the Audi A5 Sportback is the car Audi never dared to call A4 and now they charge you a 2 grand premium for it. No wonder why nobody is buying it.
martes, 1 de marzo de 2011
I saw a Cadillac last Friday, and I feel like I want to track down how many of these babies I see. I do already know they are extremely rare in
If you ask anyone here what do they know about Cadillac, you'll get the right answer "American luxury car". Everybody knows Cadillac here, but no one seems to buy them. That's why I think GM has been absolutely wrong in
Let's start with the model range. CTS and STS are quite good, but they lack diesel engines. The SRX has seen some mild success within soccer players, although it also lacks diesel engines. Finally, the top of the range Escalade is useless in our roads. It isn't fast, it doesn't handle, it can't go offroad, it doesn't fit in any car park. It doesn't even look good, or badass, or stylish.
Carmakers usually build their top of the range models not to sell them. Think of them like ads. You get into a showroom, and there is this spectacular car with lots of features and witchcraft engineering. That's the one you would like to buy, but you buy the car you need or can afford instead. That flagship was there to show you how powerful the company is, to make you think the car you are actually buying is just the first step. They give you something to dream about. Of course, they sell them from time to time, but the core business is on more mundane cars.
GM should stop importing the Escalade. This is step one. Step two is build some proper diesel engines. How come GM, the biggest car manufacturer until 2009, has never had diesel engines of their own? Opels and Vauxhalls use Fiat diesel engines. So did Saab when it was under the GM umbrella. No wonder why
viernes, 25 de febrero de 2011
People say these days that no brand new car is rubbish. I admit that too, but while many people ignore the Lada Niva is still on sale, I don't.
Born in 1977, the Lada Niva (aka Autovaz Niva and Vaz Niva) was a little amazing offroader of its time. It brought car features like unibody architecture, front independent suspension and coil suspensions to the off road market. Using Fiat technology and some original Russian engineering, communists finally made a good car people could own.
34 years in the car industry is a lot of time. Almost every car on sale today has been redesigned 5 times or so since 1977. However, the Lada Niva stays on the same roots. Anaemic power, disgusting looks and horrible ergonomics were there when the car was released, and no one has cared to fix anything in this period. In fact, the Lada Niva has experienced less evolution than the Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse or the Land Rover Defender, probably the eldest cars in our roads (apart from Morgans).
Are Nivas useless? no, of course not. If you are a hardcore offroader and you are on a budget, a second hand Niva can be found for less than two grand. Or maybe you are into guns, and fancy a new target. Or you've always wondered how long does it take for a car to sink. Get a stopwatch and a Niva. Sure, different cars will have different sinking times, but you'll get the idea. Personally, I would like to grab four crash dummies, put them in a Niva and perform a crash test at 85 miles an hour. It would be scientific, wouldn't it?
lunes, 21 de febrero de 2011
I started this series about the electric car asking myself if Prime Minister Zapatero was right when he decided to spend taxpayer's money on the electric car. So far, I've concluded that electric cars aren't ready yet and that when they do, some advantages we see now will be long gone. Finally, I take a look at other examples of government spending to see if we are going to drive electric cars in the future.
My first example comes from
My second example comes from the Middle Eeast. In the 1980's, western countries told oil producers in the
At this point, I assume that spending money from taxpayers on a particular topic doesn't guarantee results. Sure, there are examples out there where government spending has been useful. But my point is that we shouldn't consider that spending as an investment, but as a bet. Unfortunately for Spaniards, Mr. Zapatero is wrong again.
domingo, 20 de febrero de 2011
sábado, 19 de febrero de 2011
Electric engines are great. They have just one moving part, the crankshaft. This means there is almost no friction, no temperature rise, not many fluids to move about. Today, an electric engine has somewhere from 90 to 95% efficiency rate. This means that if you put a hundred energy units to feed an electric engine, you get 90 to 95 units of kinetic energy out of the crankshaft. It is impossible to get efficiency rates higher than 100%, so there is no real room to improve electric engines. Sure, smaller and lighter engines would help, but the benefits would be in the handling and design department, not the efficiency one.
When it comes to electricity, the real problem becomes when you want to store it. I've look at a recent Audi e-Tron concept to know about some figures. Its batteries weigh 1.200 pounds and store the equivalent of a gallon and a third of gasoline. At this energy to weight ratio, you would need 9.000 pounds of batteries to store the equivalent of ten gallons of gas. That's 4 tons. Maybe it's not a matter of improving batteries a little bit. Maybe batteries for electric cars need to be 20 times better than they are now. Storing 10 gallons of electricity in just 500 pounds would be great. So, perhaps a new groundbreaking technology can do it, but today's tech is way too far from that.
Chassis and platforms for electric cars may be shared with their petrol counterparts, but they work much better if they are specific. Weight distribution around the car is the key to get good handling, traction and braking. Carmakers can design great platforms for electric cars, no doubt about that, but costs will be high unless they become as popular as petrol cars.
Up until now we've seen that costs are high and tech isn't quite ready. Carmakers can do R+D to achieve cost reduction and required specs. But there is a crucial question: Do they have to?
The answer is no. They don't have to. Batteries have improved a lot for the last 15 years, and cars haven't played a major role in there. Today, cell phones, tablets, laptops and power tools use batteries. We love electronic gadgets that run on batteries, and we all put the blame on them: they take ages to fill, but they only last a couple of days. If you don't abuse them, that is, because a hardcore user can run out of battery in just a few hours. We all know this. So do battery manufacturers.
jueves, 17 de febrero de 2011
When I first saw the current-gen Mustang I was impressed. The front end had personality, aggressiveness, beauty. However, the first questions I asked myself involved power and fuel economy. Those are the questions I am frequently asked when talking about it. In a land where cars do at least 30mpg and rarely produce more than 200bhp, Mustang's figures were impressive.
There is no passion for hypermiling in
Motor journalists have told us that Europeans require good rear suspensions, because there are lots of twisting roads, our cities have ancient streets and many other weird reasons. Sure, we like a firm ride. We've driven the Citroën 2CV and we know that while fun, it's not exactly safe to drive around corners with ultra soft suspensions. So, once again, Mustangs seem to be out of place in
Ford doesn't import the Mustang in European markets because they've realised their beautiful pony car doesn't make much sense in
Since Ford doesn't import Mustangs officially, there is no figure to know how many of them are sold. But it's easier to see a Mustang than a Corvette. And Corvettes are officially imported. Camaros will also be imported officially, maybe because of the weird Mustang success.
Importing a Mustang isn't very easy. There's a lot of paperwork to do, since no one has homologated the model. There are shipping costs, marketing costs, and the added difficulty to find a company to insurance it. According to ads, a V6 Mustang is around 40.000 € and a good V8 one 50.000 (55.000 to 70.000 USD). That is an awful lot of money, especially when you realise that you can get a proper Mustang for 30 grand in the
Perhaps the reason why people buy Mustangs in