Twitter replacing Blog

A Word in Edgeways:

Change, the only Constant we Know

You, my faithful readers, will probably have asked yourselves: What has happened to my Blog “En route with…”?

The answer is rather simple: I have become infected with the Twitter virus. I was told one does not exist as a journalist and PR professional unless one indulges in more or less lucid comments.

So this is where you can follow up on my comments, concerns or opinions:

https://twitter.com/winsusie123BigSMile

Yes, these tweets are very condensed, but they can spread more easily. Which is why I, too, have opted for this further tool of communicating with a wider public.

KISS: Keep it short and simple. Even if the topic frequently is extremely complex.

Stay tuned in. Looking forward to reading your comments ;-) .

Best

Susanne

Fun & Games in Mellow Orange

Point of View

Read all about it !

Read all about it !

Total Satisfaction Ride to Lago di Garda with the Touran 2.0 TDI

Fancy a drive down South? Such a simple suggestion and yet the mere mention of the word ‘South’ for the motoring enthused seems to conjure up an escapade of shine peddling along some back road in the hills of Alabama in a rumbling pickup truck.

Wine barrels and Pumpkin Touran

Wine barrels and Pumpkin Touran.

“Susie, grab your shotgun, tie that hound and hang on to your hat – we got rye to deliver”. A veracious recollection, not quite – in our case deep down south meant the eastern side of the beautiful Lago di Garda in Italy. What’s more, no old rambling pickup truck, we had a brand-new car at our disposal: a VW Tiguan 2.0 TDI – in orange metallic, which VW have decided to call “Habanero Orange Metallic”.

Touran – Tower of Reliable Substance

Shot gun and hound storage? Forget about it, as the local would say, pressing the open- the-boot button on the key, flattening the third seat row and in went the bicycle, plus plenty of luggage for 2 persons to set off to an all activity holiday in a multifunctional fun vehicle.

The Italians must have liked Pumpkin because they allowed the Touran to drive anywhere.

The Italians must have liked Pumpkin a lot, because they allowed the Touran to drive anywhere.

In short: The Tiguan 2.0 TDI with just 150 hp (110kW) surprised us all along. Having been used to driving sportscars in the premium segment, we expected to be faced with something resembling that of a suburban tractor, we were proved wrong from the outset. Not only is the car and its navigation system self-explanatory (we hate leafing through manuals), it is great fun to drive. And – a totally new experience for us – it uses so damn little petrol.

Fits in nicely with this luscious area. But what's more: Fun to drive!

Fits in nicely with this luscious area. But what’s more: Fun to drive!

A propos Diesel: It is simply terrible how the Americans have blown the “Diesel issue” out of all proportion. And now all kinds of countries are following suit maligning the combustion engines. How short-sighted can one get, oblivious to proper well-to-wheel, womb-to-tomb considerations. The fact remains: Volkswagen are building fantastically good cars!

It is one thing to ask managers to step down. Winterkorn’s resignation is a sine qua non. His autocratic managerial style, in his later years short of despotism, certainly nurtured an unhealthy ‘culture’ of con tricksing.

And another truth: The cars with the so-called defeat device are extremely good cars.

Bella macchina. My Pumpkin 2.0 in front of a nice hotel in Salo'.

Bella macchina. My Pumpkin 2.0 was allowed exclusive parking in front of hotel Duomo plus ristorante Rosa in Salo’ overlooking the lake.

A further aspect not to forget: Whereas airbag producer Takata and other companies have caused terrible accidents and even casualties, not to mention the oh-so-progressive Tesla’s lethal self-driving software, Volkswagen engineering is safe and sound and intelligent – in spite of American lawyers’ propensity to come up with bogus figures as to how much more deaths through cancer will be caused through slightly higher emissions. What a lot of bull…ocks.

Heavy Duty? No, saper vivere!

Vino e pane - simple life can be bliss! After a wine and oil tasting, we drove home with lots of vini Camincioli. Luckily, the Touran offers plenty of space!

Vino e pane – simple life can be bliss! After a wine and oil tasting, we drove home with lots of vini Comincioli. Luckily, the Touran offers plenty of space!

But to revert to the Tiguan 2.0 TDI: It was real joy to embark on an all activity spree to beautiful Lago di Garda. What might have seemed a somewhat boring utility vehicle has matured into a truly amazing f-car. F for fun, family, fantastic. Clean design. Amazing equipment. All the assistant systems one might want, for instance the very useful rear view camera. The only assistant tool we would have loved to have on top, is a head-up display. Head-up displays in our view are one of the most useful innovations and should be part of every car in today’s confusing traffic with its erratic speed limits. In total, our version came up to 35,850 Euro, plus 11,807 Euro for special equipment. Pity that our mellow orange costs extra. It so befits this car! Makes it stand out in a nice way, as you can see on the photos. At any rate, it truly is an all activity vehicle which suits many quite diverse purposes. Needless to add, the Diesel momentum adds this extra zest when driving.

The Latin poet Catullus would certainly have loved to have had Pumpkin at his disposal to increase his mobility in ancient times. Sirmione.

The ancient Roman poet Catullus would certainly have loved to have had Pumpkin at his disposal to increase his mobility to and from Roma aeterna. Photo taken near where his rural villa is supposed to have been. Sirmione.

text and photos: Susanne Roeder

Pumpkin and I hit it off very well together.

Pumpkin and I hit it off very well together.

©roe

Bacchus, to thee alone? No, olio e vino!

Bacchus, to thee alone? No, olio e vino!

 

 

 

 

High Flyers

A Celebration of the 911

The 1970 F-model, the G-model from 1981 and the current 911 taking off into the sky – Porsche finally has its spectacular monument right in the centre of Porscheplatz. This is bound to attract even more friends and lovers of the iconic marque.

Learing to fly !

Learing to fly ! Photo: Roeder.

“Inspiration 911” has transformed Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen’s most famous roundabout in front of Porsche Museum. And the thousands of motorists passing it daily will see a towering tribute in white to the eternally young 911, to the people at Porsche and to the epicentre of the Porsche group exemplified by the listed red brick building just 300 metres away, where the 911 story began.

A splendid inauguration ceremony officially dedicated the sculpture to the public, and the road leading to Porscheplatz was cordoned off for all but a moving collage of selected Porsche sports cars. This outstanding work of art that British artist Gerry Judah created for Porsche is a variation on the acclaimed temporary sculpture which he had conceived for the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013 to celebrate 50 years of the Porsche 911.

This sculpture completely designed in white has quite obviously been built to stand for decades, very much in keeping with the never-ending story of Porsche passion and of the 911 in particular. No other sports car model has survived for anything like as long and kept its essential identity through now seven evolutionary phases. It is still the benchmark for its class and has created a myth beyond compare.

The artist’s idea, inspired by this myth, is wonderfully simple: Three cars – that is three actual cars minus only fluids – are fixed to three elegantly asymmetrical arms that reach out into the sky; one to Austria, where in Gmünd back in 1948 Ferry Porsche built the first 356 which started it all, another towards Saxony and to the second Porsche plant in Leipzig. Not far from here Porsche have recently bought the toolmaking division of KUKA Systems. This is another subsidiary and now operates under Porsche Werkzeug GmbH. The third highlights nearby Weissach, where all Porsche cars are designed and developed and which simultaneously is the hotspot of the successful racing division which this year has really taken off in a big way with their World Endurance Racing triumphs.

The 24 metre high “Inspiration 911” has given Stuttgart another significant landmark. It pinpoints the sports car manufacturer’s longstanding commitment to the city and pays homage to Ferry Porsche’s dictum: “Those who are fortunate enough to build a business from a dream owe it to the world to be the custodians of that dream.” This belief has now been visualised and planted solid in the ground while still displaying the sheer dynamism and inspiration that will take Porsche into the future.

Susanne Roeder

Molto Elegante e Semplice – Bruno Sacco

Bruno Sacco: Icon of Impeccable Taste and Beacon of Modesty

The prospect of meeting the grand seigneur of Mercedes-Benz design was very exciting, even if we had been warned that car design was the one subject he wanted to avoid… However, meeting the living legend who gave Mercedes-Benz cars a fresh but timeless appearance was more than enticing enough for us. Always the perfect gentleman, he arranged our first encounter to take place over an extensive Italian meal, and without being pushed too hard, did eventually talk about some epoch-making developments – always emphasising with his typical modesty that he had simply been the head of a marvellous team.

Bruno Sacco: Italian passion and German precision.

Bruno Sacco: Italian passion and German precision.

Mercedes-Benz – the very name instantly conjuring up quality and desirability to Daimler employees and the car buying public alike, is undoubtedly one of the world’s most prestigious brands. Whoever ends up working for “the Daimler”, as the Swabians like to call their company, is considered a very lucky person and at the top of their industry. Bruno Sacco had landed himself in this enviable position, when in January 1958 the 24 year old Italian arrived in Stuttgart and took up work as a ‘stylist’. In fact, stylists in those days were considered no more than a useful addition to the all important team of mechanical engineers under Friedrich Geiger, who shared one big hall in Sindelfingen.

When Sacco started, only he and the Frenchman Paul Bracq, were working as proper designers for Geiger. Soon after Geiger resigned in 1974, Sacco took over as Chief Designer in the Style Center the whole aspect of design in the company started to assume a greater importance.

“I always wanted to join Mercedes-Benz and looking back, I realise that Mercedes-Ben really determined my life – Sindelfingen and the Design Center that is.” The gentleman from Udine started and finished his professional career with the premium car manufacturer. His strong-willed and disciplined but always team-oriented nature fitted perfectly with the Mercedes-Benz ethos and he stayed there 41 years.

Despite his talent and stature, he remained what he has always been, a modest and practical team player who never thrust himself to the fore. It is in this spirit that he describes himself dismissively to us as “un troglodita”, in other words a simple character. He recalls that his father was away from home in his youth so it was up to his mother to care for her son’s education as best she could. At an early age the seeds of his interest in vehicles had been sown by a passion for trains.

The ultimate inspiration, however, that sparked off the young man’s moving to Turin was yet to come. With the school certificate from the Technical Institute, “Antonio Zano” in Udine in his hands, Bruno Sacco travelled to the Turin Motor Show that same year. This is when his eyes fell on the beautiful Studebaker Starlight Coupé . “A little later, I saw it again, and that ultimately confirmed my passion for cars”. In those days, apart from being the hotspot of the Italian car making industry, Turin ranked among the biggest international centres of car design. The city was home to Pininfarina, Carrozzeria Ghia, Nuccio Bertone, Gigi Michelotti, Giorgio Giugiaro, Fiat and Lancia Design. Consequently, young Bruno, not yet of age according to the law at that time, wanted to be close to the action and this resulted in the family moving to Turin in 1952 and Bruno enrolling at the Technical University of Engineering. He didn’t, in fact, enjoy his course studies but rather it was growing fascination with cars and design that consumed him. Ultimately this dedication got him his first job as an apprentice with Carrozzeria Ghia. In these years he also met Sergio Pininfarina who also spurred on his talent as a ‘car stylist’.

300 SL – The car that lured Sacco from Turin to Sindelfingen

In spite of being an Italian in the heart of Italian car design, Bruno Sacco felt irresistibly drawn to Mercedes-Benz and followed their sports car success in motor racing. “I felt the 300 SL was a fantastic sports car. It stood out a mile next to the drab array of production saloons.” Though excited by the brand he could not, however, escape the feeling that, overall, the styling of Merceded-Benz cars badly needed some fresh thinking.

Theoretical reflections were soon to be put to the test, because he managed to get a job interview with Karl Wilfert, chief of car body development, resulting in his prompt employment in Sindelfingen – which of course turned out to become the job of a lifetime.

Steering Mercedes-Benz Design.

Steering Mercedes-Benz Design.

 

“Pure styling” is what was on young Bruno’s mind but it was not, as it turned out, to be the mindset of the German premium car manufacturer. Nevertheless, being the strong-willed and hardworking man that he was, he persistently pushed his ideas of what a Mercedes-Benz could and should look like. That required him to combine common sense with an elegance devoid of frills or fashionable innuendos.

It took about a decade before he was in a position to shape the design of Europe’s then most profitable automobile company according to his vision. This was partly because he had left Geiger for five years to work with Béla Barenyi on passive safety. It gave him a deep understanding of engineering which was evident in all future Sacco design. Being both stylist and technical designer made him responsible for the essential elements of a Mercedes-Benz, namely, exclusiveness, quality, long life-span, perfection and not least of all, refinement. These were later to be reflected, memorably, in his S-Class coupé, the C 126 (SEC) of 1981. To Sacco, style and technology were equally important and it was up to the designer to reconcile innovative content and technological highlights.

The Master and the 560 SEC

The Master and the 560 SEC.

Pure Styling

Together with his team he pushed through some stylistic innovations that to the company at the time appeared hair-raising. One that most notably springs to mind is of course the notorious side planks which served as bumpers, replacing chrome bumpers, and continuing along the sides of the vehicle. These came to be called ‘Sacco boards’. Sneered at when they were first introduced in the S-Class (W 126) in 1979, as is so often the case with unusual design, buyers accepted the daring side mouldings and they of course went on to become a constant feature of the Mercedes-Benz in the 1980s and 1990s.

Banal as it may sound, the essential mantra guiding his hand on the drawing board was: “A Mercedes must always look like unmistakably like a Mercedes.” More explicitly, to him that meant incorporating innovation in tradition. – This was perfectly manifested in the S-Class of 1979 and even more so in the 190 (W 201), the car that from 1982 on made Mercedes-Benz cars accessible to a wider clientele – a decidedly revolutionary step in the history of the marque. “The 190 was the car that convinced people that Mercedes was capable of change. Before this car came out, public opinion would be that all Mercedes models are the same and that used to drive me mad. But from then on it was no longer an issue.”

The 300 SL Gullwing

MB Gullwing.

MB Gullwing.

Deep down, Sacco had always wanted to design a successor to his favourite model, the 300 SL. So it was with delight and determination that he had jumped at the offer to do exactly this from Karl Wilfert – the so-called project ‘X’. At this time Sacco was still working under Barenyi who, along with Geiger, reported directly to Wilfert. So the trio Paul Bracq, Giorgio Battistella and Bruno Sacco set to work. Sacco was mainly in charge of the engineering, with Bracq and his colleague Battistella developing the styling of the new creation

Yet, as is well known, there was no follow up to the 300 SL Gullwing until, in 2010 the SLS AMG with its gullwing-doors could lay claim to being the spiritual successor.

Yet, it has to be emphasised that project ‘X’ had nothing to do with the C 111 project. The latter dealt with prototypes as part of the development of the Wankel engine, whereas project ‘X’ was to be the successor to the famous SL 300 Gullwing, the car that had transfixed Bruno Sacco forever. However, the confidence in the model was such that for years it was exhibited in the entrance hall to the factory in Untertürkheim before then being moved to Sindelfingen, where customers picking up their new Mercedes Benz cars could cast admiring eyes upon it. From there it has recently been moved again to make it visible to a larger public as part of the C 111 exhibition in Mercedes-Benz Museum Stuttgart till November.

As the ever self-effacing Sacco remarks about the ‘X’ model with a laugh: “I had friends telling me they saw one of my cars in Sindelfingen. This caught me by surprise, because it was not so much my car as the car of all of us. In fact, I would still say that the main thrust of ideas featuring in the model were Battistella’s.” Most would see this as just another example of his modesty. Being the one at the head of the project and supervising it throughout, his name certainly does deserve to be on the plate.

So what exactly happened to the Sacco project back in the 1960s? “It did reach the status of a beautiful 1:1 model”, he remarks dryly. This model (which he never fails to call a joint effort) by Paul Bracq, Giorgio Battistella was intended as a blueprint for the next Gullwing. However, when the mock-up with its wing doors was revealed to the mighty Board of Directors and a group of Untertürkheim engineers, it was severely criticised – not least, one suspects, because all along there was another project in the pipeline.

This was of course the Wankel project C 111 the development of which had already been well under way, and ultimately led to project ‘X’ being discontinued. More or less simultaneously with project X, a team of engineers in Untertürkheim had been working with a local ‘stylist’ in Untertürkheim and had presented Wilfert with a 1:5 model. Wilfert considered it a good start but decided that the styling department in Sindelfingen should take over. The development of the C 111 had in the meantime gathered so much momentum that the styling of the super sportscar posed a new and interesting challenge for Friedrich Geiger’s team.

The Wankel project C 111

Chief Stylist Geiger was delighted to take on the styling of what was an experimental sports car programme for the development of the Wankel engine. For it the engineers in Untertürkheim had developed a three-rotor Wankel engine with 280bhp.

So what was Sacco’s role in it? No sooner had he returned to the styling team in 1968 when the Chief Stylist handed the technical leadership of the project over to him to supervise its further development, which resulted in the driving prototypes C 111/I and II. Once the C 111/I had been presented, the shaping of the next prototype had to be tackled for which the engineers this time had developed a four-rotor engine producing a maximum of 350bhp and a top speed of 300km/h. Both engines achieved impressive records of speed in the USA. Sadly though, none of the Wankel prototypes were put in series, their relatively high fuel consumption falling foul of the 1973 oil crisis.

Sacco insists: “The C 111/I and II were very much the work of the design team which I headed, and I contributed some ideas, but most of all my job as project manager was to see the project through and make sure it would be a success. Geiger as head stylist simply was the C 111 man.” It has to be said, however, that project ‘X’ had nothing to do with the C 111 project. The latter dealt with prototypes as part of the development of the Wankel engine, whereas project ‘X’ was to be the successor to Bruno’s first love, the famous SL 300 Gullwing.

Making his Design Team shine – the C 111/III

"Nobody, nobody at all wanted a C111-III.” Bruno Sacco

“Nobody, nobody at all wanted a C111-III.” Bruno Sacco

There was, however, a further sequence to the C 111 project – one that bore Sacco’s signature throughout and for which he does claim full responsibility. A few years had elapsed and the development of the Wankel engine was no longer pursued. However, for the purpose of a new aerodynamic demonstration by the engineers in Untertürkheim project C 111/III was perfectly suited. Adaptations were made with the latest Diesel engines that resulted in a new record series of speed in Nardo.

Sacco had just been established as Chief Designer and as Geiger’s successor when he launched the project. “Nobody, nobody at all wanted a C 111/III,” he states vehemently. But launching this new project to him appeared to be the best way to showcase his design team in the best possible light. “I pursued a certain idea with this project. Above all having just become responsible for the team, I wanted to make the freshness of my design team tangible. And for this I wanted to give them as much scope as possible to develop their ideas. This, to me, was the natural thing to do because I have never felt the need, let alone urge, to design a car entirely on my own. To me, design has always been a question of teamwork.”

Though the diesel record car never made it into production, several of its aerodynamic features some five years later figured in the next S-Class (W 126 – the first one for which he was fully responsible), and most notably in the rear design of new ‘Baby Benz’, the 190 (W 201).

The grand seigneur and his work.

The grand seigneur and his work.

A modest yet firm helmsman

Sacco himself calls the R 129 “the most perfect car” of his career. A car that to him portrays the ideal mixture of emotions, elegance and style. He calls it “a stroke of luck” and again thanks his young team for being focused on high performance.

Being the considerate and thoughtful gentleman he was it comes hardly as a surprise to find he was held in high esteem by his team. Harald Leschke, once a member of Sacco’s team and also his assistant for several years, calls his former boss “the best boss one could possibly dream of”. He goes on to sum up Sacco’s leadership “He showed great tolerance, was sympathetic, modest and always prepared to listen. Plus he had that all important ability to delegate, and once he had delegated a task he consulted with those working on it without standing over them. In short he was an authority, but he was not authoritarian.”

Bruno Sacco has received awards galore from all over the world. Two of these he cherishes in particular, most notably having become inductee of the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2006. Keith Crain himself held the speech before handing over the Cup which reads “The Highest Place of Honor in the International Motor Vehicle Industry – Bruno Sacco, 2006, Inductee”. The “Lifetime Design Achievement Award” means a lot to him because it was bestowed upon him by fellow designers. With or without all these trophies which are hidden away in a cupboard, one cannot fail to notice that the world’s roads today are still full of his creations. Their enduring appeal confirms the timelessness of Sacco’s design.

Bruno_Sacco_SC

Text: Susanne Roeder

Photos: Daimler AG


 

Run Silent, Run Deep


The Audi A3 e-tron Sportback

Posted on August 5th, 2014 by Susanne Roeder & Ian Kuah

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The most outstanding quality of Audi’s A3 e-tron Sportback plug-in hybrid that very quickly becomes apparent to a first time driver is how seamlessly the two disparate halves of its powertrain integrate in real world driving conditions.

Unlike a pure electric car, you hardly have to learn anything new to operate this petrol-electric hybrid, and what you do need to know can be conveyed in a matter of minutes when your dealer hands the car over.

Another positive aspect of the e-tron’s dynamic performance is the way it goes down the road. With springs and dampers uprated to cope with the e-tron’s 320kg of extra weight, its feels even more supple and mature in the way it tackles bumps than a normal A3. 

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The 1.4 TFSI motor has 150hp and 250Nm of torque. The electric motor is rated at 101hp (75kW), with 330Nm of torque. However, as the power delivery curves are not additive, the total system power works out at 204hp, with a total system torque of 350Nm. The compact electric motor weighs 34kg and sits between the 100kg transversely-mounted internal combustion engine and the six-speed S-tronic gearbox with integrated drive de-coupler.

The presence of this de-coupling clutch is significant as one of the issues with electric and hybrid cars is the un-natural feeling of strong deceleration when you take your foot off the throttle.

This is caused by the strong braking effect of an electric motor when it is not delivering power. However, it turns out that coasting is a more efficient use of kinetic energy than brake recuperation, so this solution kills two birds with one stone.

The fact that an electric motor develops its peak torque at zero revs gives the e-tron very good low-end punch, and this is reflected in its 0-60km/h time of 4.9 sec. The 0-100km/h time of 7.6 sec is not quite hot hatch beating, but is more than adequate. Top speed in petrol mode is 222km/h, and you can run at up to 130km/h in e-mode, which corresponds to the highway speed limit in most European countries.

If performance is good, economy is outstanding, and Audi claim the A3 e-tron will do 1.5 L/100km or 188 mpg in old money, with emissions a paltry 35g/km. In real world driving on our test route, which included everything from the urban grind in Vienna to motorways, we saw an average of 4.3L/100km or 65.7mpg, which is still very impressive.

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The e-tron’s ability to run in pure electric (EV) mode for 50km on a full charge means that for most people, the daily commute with zero emissions is taken care of. The fuel tank takes 40 litres, which is good for 650km. Using both power modes in tandem, the car has a potential range of up to 890km.

The 18 km drive from Vienna airport to our hotel was well within the A3 e-tron’s EV range, and it was actually very pleasant to cover this distance with a total lack of mechanical noise and vibration.

While you can certainly hear the stereo better at a lower volume, this also implies that a base car with low chassis rolling noise is desirable. Thankfully the A3 also delivers in this respect.

Our test cars were pre-production examples, and while there will be some further software updates before the A3 e-tron goes on sale in the late summer, the cars we drove are by and large what a paying customer can expect.

The standard Audi A3 1.4 TFSI Sportback weighs 1,230kg. With its battery pack and other hybrid componentry, the e-tron tips the scales at 1,540kg (DIN), and its 57/43% weight distribution makes the e-tron slightly less nose heavy than the 60/40% of an A3 TDI. Its electric power steering has a nice weighting for easy low speed manoeuvring, with a ratio that also made easy work of the mountain roads in the hills above Vienna.

The fact that the 125kg, 8.8 kWh Lithium Ion battery sits right down low on the floor just in front of the rear axle is of huge benefit to the handling balance of a normally nose-heavy front-wheel-drive hatchback.

Shod with grippy 225/45R17 tyres, the e-tron exhibited less understeer in bends, and less perceived weight transfer under acceleration and braking than a normal A3.

Another advantage of placing the battery pack in this position is realised in luggage carry ability, which remains unchanged from the 280-litres of an A3 quattro, expanding to 1,120-litres with the rear seats folded flat.

The floorpan is derived from the A3 quattro, with some new sheet metal in strategic places like the battery storage compartment. The centre tunnel of the quattro floorpan is required for mechanical packaging reasons, since the area where the propeller shaft and exhaust system are normally found now contains a long, triangular-section centre silencer.

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From A1 to A8, consistently good build quality is an Audi strong suit, and the A3 impresses from the moment you open a door and step inside. The class leading fit and finish of its cabin sets the class benchmark, giving the impression that this compact Audi is a smaller rather than a cheaper version of their larger models. 

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In the cabin, everything is exactly as you would find it in a normal A3 apart from the instrument cluster where a power meter replaces the rev counter. This indicates Charge, Efficiency, and Power Boost from the batteries. In energy recuperation mode, coasting and braking both send power to the batteries.

The familiar pop-up MMI screen on the dashboard has the usual items like sat-nav, but an extra function controlled from a button on the dashboard allows the driver to choose the running mode for the vehicle.

The first of these is EV (Electric Drive) where the e-tron runs in purely electric mode, drawing power from the batteries, as I tested on the drive from the airport to the hotel. The car’s default mode on start up is EV unless the battery is depleted.

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The second mode is Hybrid Auto. In this setting, the computer decides when to run the petrol or electric motors or both for optimum efficiency. So if the batteries are getting low, the internal combustion motor will cut in to charge the batteries until they are at the point where efficient running on electric power is feasible again.

In Hybrid Hold mode, the aim is to retain battery charge, so the computer will do its utmost to use the petrol motor and coasting and braking to charge the batteries to be used later. The final mode is Hybrid Charge, where the system will try to increase the battery charge as much as possible using extra regenerative braking and the petrol engine as a generator.

If the car is running on battery power initially in very cold weather there is the issue of engine wear on the internal combustion engine if it is suddenly engaged in kick down when stone cold. Because of this, special piston rings and cylinder liners are used, and a sensor monitors oil quality.

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The A3 e-tron Sportback has three independent cooling systems. The first is the normal water-cooling system for the internal combustion motor. The second is the water-cooled charge-air intercooler for the forced aspiration component of this motor.

Last but not least is the cooling system for the batteries and power electronics. This uses the heat exchange component of the vehicles air-conditioning to maintain the batteries within their rated operating temperature envelope.

That means the a/c system is always on, which is an advantage as most people are not aware of the fact that switching off the a/c in winter is bad since the small amount of lubricating oil circulating with the coolant gas keeps the rubber seals in the system from drying out. Also, as air-conditioning extracts humidity form the air, it keeps your windows clear when it is cold and damp or raining.

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An A3 e-tron App for smart phone junkies allows you to access your travel data information like average fuel consumption, distance and driving time. It also tells you your battery charge status and range.

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And when the car is connected to the mains charger, you can programme the air-conditioning to pre-heat or pre-cool the car’s interior, so you do not have to draw power from the battery for this task once you are driving. Mains charging time is 3 hours 45 min on a normal household supply, dropping to 2 hrs 15 min if you have a 16 Amp socket.

The Audi A3 e-tron goes on sale in Europe this summer, and in China in 2015. Audi will offer an A6 e-tron LWB in China in 2016, as a joint-venture project using many locally sourced components, and Q7 e-tron will follow.

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At 37,900-euro (in Germany) Audi A3 e-tron Sportback goes head-to-head with the likes of the Toyota Prius plug-in Hybrid, which it decisively outpoints on driving dynamics, prestige and build quality. It is as large a car as most people need for their daily commute, and is a real pleasure to drive.

- the end -

Like A House On Fire …

 

The new T-model of the C-class.

The new T-model of the C-class.                         photo: Ian Kuah

The C-Class T-Model and Globaliter Media

really got on

The C-class is the latest star in the firmament of Mercedes-Benz’ mid-sized model range. We much prefer it to the E-class; it is sportier, handles well and leaves the impression of a compact S-class.

The T-model in particular caught our attention, and did not disappoint. It is a truly accomplished and practical everyday car with wide-ranging talents. Well almost. We are already looking forward to the launch of the six-cylinder and AMG versions that will surely unlock the full potential of this brilliant car.

So here is our review in German:

Außen hui, innen huiuiui

Appealing to drivers of all ages. Fresh on the outside, very S-class inside.

Appealing to drivers of all ages. Fresh on the outside, very S-class inside.  (photo: Ian Kuah)

Raumschiff T-Modell der C-Klasse: Mission Lifestyle macht aus dem Lastesel ein Lustauto

Sie ist Anfang dreißig, hat zwei kleine Kinder und einen anspruchsvollen Geschmack: „Ich muss Kinderwagen, Fahrräder und anderes Familienzubehör transportieren, lege aber Wert auf ein schickes Auto. Das neue T-Modell ist für mich perfekt.“ Aussagen wie diese sind für den Hersteller Musik.. Schließlich will Mercedes-Benz die junge Generation für das neue T-Modell der C-Klasse gewinnen, ohne die ältere Stammkundschaft zu verschrecken durch all zu viel Neues und Ungewohntes. Mit dem neuen „Transport und Touristik“-Modell, so die Bedeutung des Kürzels „T“, könnte dieser Spagat durchaus gelingen. Im September ist Verkaufsstart.

 

Traversing the Rhine.

Traversing the Rhine.                                                                         (photo: Roeder)

Zu Lande, aber auch zu Wasser, nämlich beim Übersetzen über den Rhein mit der Fähre, gab der neue T-Faktor bei Mercedes in seiner äußeren Erscheinung ein schnittiges, sportliches Bild ab. Zumal bei Kaiserwetter rund um Weinberge und Weindörfer in Hessen und in Rheinland-Pfalz. An Funktionalität als Lastesel zugunsten von erhöhtem Flair als Lustauto hat das Nachfolgemodell null eingebüßt. Ganz im Gegenteil. Wie ein Sesam-öffne-dich geht die Heckklappe per Fußbewegung unter dem hinteren Stoßfänger ohne irgendeine Berührung auf. Wer beide Hände voll hat, weiß diese Annehmlichkeit namens „Hands-Free Access“ zu schätzen.

Load me, if you can. The T-model can take up to 1,510 litres.

Load me, if you can. The T-model can take up to 1,510 litres.      (photo: Ian Kuah)

4,70 Meter lang, 2,02 Meter breit, 1,44 Meter hoch. Die neue Generation ist um 9 Zentimeter in die Länge geschossen. Und hat dennoch abgespeckt, und zwar intelligent und nachhaltig um rund 65 Kilogramm. Das Ergebnis sind bis zu 20 Prozent weniger Spritverbrauch und mehr Sportlichkeit. Der ebene Laderaum hat zugelegt, misst jetzt 490 bis maximal 1.510 Liter und ist somit der größte seines Segments. Dabei lässt sich die Rückbank in praktischer 40:20:40 Aufteilung elektrisch umklappen. Auch die Ablagen im Innenraum sind deutlich größer geworden. Kurzum: Mercedes-Benz verspricht mit seinem Neuen ein Mehr an allem. Besonders im Innern der zwei C-Modelle kommen Luxusgefühle auf. Das ist S-Klasse in der Mittelklasse. Und die hat auch komplexe Systeme, die teilautonomes Fahren genauso ermöglichen wie das Einleiten einer Teilbremsung bei bis zu 200 Stundenkilometern.

Ready for travelling anywhere. C-class T-model.

Ready for travelling anywhere. C-class T-model.

In vielem, wie Cockpit und Motoren, gleichen sich die nicht eineiigen Zwillinge Limousine und T-Modell. Vieles ist aber auch anders. Und da hat bei „Mercedes connect me“ der jüngste Zuwachs in der Sternfamilie die Nase derzeit vorn – als bestvernetzter Pkw im Konzern. Ein weiterer Beleg dafür, wie rasant das „Internet der Dinge“ voranschreitet. Das bedeutet auch, dass die S-Klasse nicht mehr alleiniger Innovationstreiber und -träger ist.

Bisher gibt es die C-Modelle nur als Vierzylinder und da mehr Diesel, nämlich anfangs fünf, vom C 180 BlueTec mit 116 PS, bis zum C 300 BlueTec Hybrid (204 plus 27 PS). Ab Dezember kommt der Benziner auch als Sechszylinder auf den Markt, und zwar als C 400 4Matic mit 333 PS (245 kW, 480 Nm). Anders beim Diesel. Dort übernimmt die Rolle des Sechszylinders nächstes Jahr der C 300 Bluetec Hybrid (204 PS plus 27 PS vom Elektromotor). Beim Ottomotor wird später noch ein Plug-in Hyrid folgen (211 PS plus 68 PS Elektromotor).

Especially the 6-cylinder petrol version will show other cars its rear.

Especially the 6-cylinder petrol version will show other cars its rear.  (photo: Ian Kuah)

Der Einstiegspreis für das beliebte Modell, das die Deutschen der Limousine deutlich vorziehen, liegt bei rund 35.000 Euro. Mehr als 400.000 T-Modelle der C-Klasse wurden seit Ende 2007 verkauft. Allein im vergangenen Jahr waren es fast 50.000 Fahrzeuge. Mit seinem Kürzel trägt der „T“ zwar keinen so spektakulären Namen wie der Shooting Brake von Mercedes-Benz, also der Kombi des CLS. Gut möglich aber, dass er zum Shooting Star aufsteigt und somit ein wichtiger Fixstern im Mittelklasse-Segment von Mercedes-Benz bleibt, weil er alle Altersklassen für sich gewinnen kann.

Susanne Roeder

©roe

The Deidesheim vineyard has taste. G-class is just it.

The Deidesheim vineyard has taste. G-class is just it.                 (pboto: Roeder)

Go e-tron, Go, Go, Go

What more does one need than approximately 940 kilometres of range, out of which 50 can be covered purely electric, and 205 horsepower? Six cylinders, I would say. Okay, this is missing the sustainable point of the engineering effort. And it is technically impossible, as it will not fit onto the platform of the car. But it is not missing the emotional fun point.

So here is our plea to you aspiring engineers: As a compromise, why not use the award-winning 5-cylinder turbo motor which will fit this platform? What is more, this engine is the direct descendant of the legendary ur-quattro 5-cylinder with its charismatic warbling soundtrack.

Okay, adjustments need to be made here and there to make the impossible possible. In other words: Please, find a way to overcome the problem with the 5-cylinder engine being too powerful for front-wheel-drive.

Dear engineers, you as the masters of magic: Cannot you find a way to make it this work? You know, we car addicts would like to have our cake and eat it. This is poetic licence, I know. But as a poet who can twist my words, cannot you twist your technology? And make this your first ur-quattro-e-tron? Nice thought, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, here is what Rupert Stadler, CEO of AUDI AG, has to say about the company’s electrifying future …

Volle Ladung in die Zukunft

Audi Vorstandschef Rupert Stadler erläutert die Mobilitätsstrategie des Konzerns

Von Susanne Roeder

Wien – Auch Audi fährt jetzt elektrisch, nicht vollelektrisch sondern hybrid, mit der Kraft der zwei Herzen. Auf der Rennstrecke schon seit etlichen Jahren, im Straßenverkehr ab sofort. Als erstes Hybrid-Modell ist ab Sommer der Audi A3 e-tron bestellbar, in Deutschland zum Einstiegspreis von 37.900 Euro. Drei Aggregate bilden den Antriebsstrang des A3 Sportback e-tron: ein Vierzylinder TFSI Motor, eine E-Maschine und ein neu entwickeltes Sechsgang-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe.

Die Ingolstädter haben das Fahrzeug als effizientes Fortbewegungsmittel für den Alltag entwickelt. Rein elektrisch bewältigt der an der Steckdose aufladbare Plug-in Hybrid 50 Kilometer. Dahinter steckt die Erkenntnis, dass die Deutschen allgemein und auch Berufstätige im Durchschnitt maximal 40 bis 60 Kilometer pro Tag zurücklegen.

Ein gut gelaunter Rupert Stadler, der für Audi mit effizienter Hybridtechnologie an Bord bei den 24-Stunden Klassikern Le Mans und Nürburgring auf zwei prestigeträchtige Rennsiege hintereinander blicken kann, erläuterte, warum die Ingolstädter erst jetzt ein Modell mit kleinem Elektromotor anbietet. „Ich glaube einfach, dass der Kunde es honorieren wird, ein Auto zu bekommen, bei dem er auf nichts verzichten muss. Er kriegt hier ein tolles dynamisches Auto.“ Man habe hier die gesamte Entwicklungserfahrung hineingebracht. In der Tat ist das Fahrzeug derart ausgereift, dass es absolut unmerklich von einem Fahrmodus in den andern wechselt. Mit seinem „Doppelherz“ (Verbrenner und Elektroantrieb) als Motorisierung erfüllt der A3 die Anforderungen an eine Mobilität ohne Einschränkungen: Er kann bei Bedarf emissionsfrei fahren, bietet aber eine Reichweite von insgesamt mehr als 900 Kilometern. Reichweitenangst kommt gar nicht erst auf. Genauso wenig die Gefahr, nicht genügend elektrische Energie gebunkert zu haben, um in eine emissionsfreie Zone wie die Großstadt London kostenfrei fahren zu können. Denn mit einer der vier wählbaren Modi, dem „hybrid hold“, kann der Energiestatus in der Batterie für später gespeichert werden, wenn eine solche Stadtfahrt ansteht. Die Stellung „charge“, also Ladestellung, dient dazu, die Batterie beim Fahren möglichst schnell aufzuladen, S für S tronic erlaubt einen Boostvorgang, also das Abrufen von Energie zum Beschleunigen, die Position „auto“ schließlich nutzt die elektrische Energie im Zusammenspiel mit dem Verbrennungsmotor optimal und gewährleistet wenig Kraftstoffverbrauch auch auf längeren Fahrstrecken.

„Wir wollen das Segment der Plug-in Hybride auffüllen und als Hersteller auch anführen“, lautet Stadlers selbstbewusste Ansage. Und speziell zum A3 e-tron, einem Brot-und-Butter Auto für Audi: „Der A3 hat aufgrund seines stabilen Restwertes einen guten Wiederverkaufswert.“ Der Vorstandsvorsitzende ist deshalb überzeugt, mit diesem Auto eine „sehr gute Welle“ anzustoßen.

„Wir sind mit einer sehr offenen Attitüde an die e-Mobilität rangegangen“, erzählt Stadler. Jedes Jahr soll jetzt ein weiteres Modell als e-tron die Audi Hybridfamilie bilden. Als nächster kommt im Jahr 2015 das größte SUV, der Audi Q7, auf den Markt. Danach läuft speziell für den chinesischen und für Audi wichtigsten Markt der A6 Langversion e-tron vom Band. Die Palette wird bis zum A8 als Plug in Hybrid reichen. Im Premiumbereich gehe es um intelligente Modelle. Im gleichen Atemzug bekräftigte Stadler die Gewinnmarge bei Audi von acht bis zehn Prozent. Damit lägen die vier Ringe man bei den Massenherstellern weiterhin an der Spitze.

Und ein rein elektrischer Audi? „Das BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) wird bei uns in der zweiten Phase der Elektrifizierung kommen.“ Wann genau das sein wird, da hüllt sich der Vorstandsvorsitzende außer dem Hinweis auf „dann, wenn es passt und Sinn macht“ schmunzelnd in Schweigen.

 

——–ENDE————————————–

 

 

Q be nimble, Q be quick!

The Q factor, number three in the expanding Aud SUV family.

The Q factor, number three in the expanding Audi SUV family.

Welcome to the sunny side of being en tour

This specimen of mobility was presented to the press in Barcelona, Spain, and is the hitherto smallest Audi SUV: the Q3. Indeed, that was almost three years ago. Maybe it is because it is produced in Spain, in Martorell, that Audi focussed on advertising this model in a warm and positive colour which calls for attention, almost assigning it its very own “signature colour”, namely a specifically orange metal varnish. Mind you, they call it Samoaorange Metallic, which of course does not evoke a Spanish landscape at all, but rather  alludes to the tropical island of that name in the Pacific Ocean.

So why make this outrageously orangey colour an option for the Q3? Why make the SUV  share this colour with other Audi models like the A1 on the one hand and with no less than top-notch sportscars like the Audi TTS and R8 on the other? Does this unexpected combination of SUV and Samoaorange Metallic specifically appeal to the female sex? Is it a woman’s car? We do not know, and, to be honest, do not really care. What interests us more is the car’s overall performance. Usability, performance and economy, these are the decisive criteria which our 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic with 177 horsepower (130 kw) fulfils impressively well.

The Q-Factor

Once we had overcome our lurking aversion to the unmistakably characteristic sound of the diesel, we were pleasantly surprised by the nimbleness of the car and by how long one tank would last – in spite of it being the upgraded 2.0-litre diesel. Apparently the diesel sound of the same engine with 140 horsepower is even more prominent. The definite advantage of the diesel engine over the petrol engine remains its amazing quantity of torque (380Nm), which not only makes driving a most pleasant experience, but also gives the driver the satisfaction of quick overtaking procedures.

And, although the Q3 is a fairly solid and as such a “normal” car, wherever we drove or parked the car, it certainly stood out, due to the Samoaorange Metallic. “Disrupt to differentiate”, the motto we strive to pursue in our bloggosphere, encapsulates perfectly this specific Audi. And there will be further models with the Q-factor denoting SUV or crossover capabilities firmly implanted in their DNA. Which one is going to be next, the Q4, the Q6? Will there also be a Q1 and a Q2, possibly on the platform of the A1? The Q3 uses the platform of the A3 and the VW Golf, but otherwise bears no resemblance to the sedan or hatchback.

Every inch an Audi

The Q3 has lived up to our expectations, in spite of the Samoaorange Metallic version. We would certainly choose a different colour, not least as the Samoaorange costs an extra 546.22 Euro. Incidentally, the base price for the 2.0 TDI with 177 hp is 31,218.49 Euro (net). With all the extras from the options list we had on board, the Q3 would have amounted to  48,600.84 Euro (net) or 57,835.00 Euro including VAT. In other words, one should consider the options list very carefully.

The manufacturer’s claim: “The Audi Q3 is a premium SUV with the format of the compact class. It is sporty, efficient and versatile – an urban vehicle that is equally at home on or off the road. Every aspect of the Q3 showcases Audi technology.” We do go along with this description. New as far as technology is concerned is the fact that the Q3 has its four-cylinder engine mounted transversely, which enabled the designers to give it its compact shape. Needless to say, the SUV has Audi state-of-the-art infotainment and multimedia systems on board. We had the luxury MMI navigation plus system installed. It is easy to handle, and for the extra 2,289.92 Euro offers a wide array of useful features like a voice control system that understands 12 languages or up-to-the minute online traffic information.

World premiere in April 2011 in Shanghai.

World premiere in Shanghai in April 2011.

 

 

Hoch zu Roß im Deutschen Schmuddelwinter

Der Diesel mit 177 PS (130kW) lässt echten Fahrspaß aufkommen, vor allem in Handling und Ansprechverhalten. Die Freude kommt an der nächsten Tankstelle, denn der kleine On- und Offroader ist durchaus genügsam in seinem Durst nach Sprit. Trotz ausgiebigem Austesten der möglichen Höchstgeschwindigkeit von laut Tachonadel über 220 km/h lag unser Spritverbrauch bei durchschnittlich acht Liter auf 100 Kilometer. Der Sound im Sportmodus ist etwas bissiger, für unsere Ohren angenehmer, weil der Diesel in den Hintergrund tritt. Bei genügsamer Fahrweise reicht eine Tankfüllung (64 Liter) für gut 1000 Kilometer. Das Leergewicht fällt mit 1585 Kilogramm für ein Auto dieser Kategorie gering aus und ist ein weiterer Grund für den relativ geringen Spritverbrauch samt entspanntem Wohlgefühl im hohen Geschwindigkeitsbereich.

Der Q3 ist ein Audi durch und durch, in der Designsprache genauso wie im Fahrverhalten. Ein agil kompakter Alleskönner und bisher kleinstes und jüngstes Mitglied in der SUV Familie der Ingolstädter. Fazit: Es muss nicht immer ein RS sein, zumal die erhöhte Sitzposition zum Cruisen und Genießen der vorbeigleitenden Landschaft verleitet.

Susanne Roeder

©roe

Aquam e Pumice postulare

Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel: “Eine Maut wird es mit mir nicht geben.”

Already forgotten?

Matthias Wissmann: What about it?

Politics in Brussels: Only eating Brussel sprouts?

So this is the latest addition. 8 points is not the issue. But the money one has to pay. And who decides on what road what speed is permitted? Whereas on some long and winding roads it is only possible for the advanced driver to reach the allowed 100km/h, on other totally straight roads it is 60km/h – where the speed limit used to be 100km/h. Just one example.

Änderung des Bußgeldkatalogs

So, again, cash cow car driver. All the other countries, yes, they do have a Maut System of some sort. However, the Germans already pay incredible taxes for petrol (75 %). And e-mobility is heavily sponsored, and still intolerably expensive, simply because the well-to-wheel balance does not work.

Frau Merkel, you once studied physics, did you not? So where is the logic in this? Or are you swaying opportunistically in the wind as you have almost always done?

Source: Mobil in Deutschland e.V.