New Bible, latest Edition

“It is the pinnacle of achievement to create something that survives the test of time, is immune to the eccentricity of certain epochs – in other words, has a timeless character.” (Prof. Dr. Ing. h.c. Ferry Porsche)

So, here’s to Christmas and the birth of the …. Porsche 911 ! An altogether splendid book.

The ultimate book to celebrate 50 years of the icon has appeared in Motorbuchverlag (Paul Pietsch).

Father to the 911

Father to the 911.

ISBN: 978-3-613-30911-1
39.90 EUR / 55.90 CHF

Edition Porsche Museum

Susanne Roeder


Book review

Auto Kultur Geschichte


Car Culture & History

Stuttgart University has published a book on the above topic. It deals with mobility in all its various aspects. Above all, mobility is seen in a positive way, a. o. alluding to the fact that spiritual mobility preconditions less real mobility, i.e. less traffic congestions. Easier said than done and instigating lots of debates.

Quite obviously, electric mobility nowadays plays a major role again, at least as regards traffic in cities. The question of sound has yet to be resolved, as cars without “noise” can prove extremely dangerous in today’s hustle and bustle. This is also discussed in the book, by professors, doctors and other specialists, the focus being on tomorrow’s (individual) mobility.

And who is paying the bill? (sketch SHALA)

And who is paying the bill? (sketch SHALA)

Kurt Möser, Marcus Popplov, Elke Uhl (ed.), Auto. Kultur. Geschichte (ISBN 978 3 981 466515), Stuttgart University + IZKT. 10 Euro.



Opel is Back, Alive and Strong

From Outer Space: Monza.


From Outer Space

The German car manufacturer Opel has had many a bitter pill to swallow. Will America reduce it to the max? Would America mistakingly invest in the wrong industry? Ultimately, America has not lost belief in the very traditional OEM. And no, it is  not all about China. Opel can herald its best car portfolio of all times.

To support this notion of an OEM worth surviving, Opel is back with an impressive motorsports programme which is cost efficient. Motorsports Commercial Director Jörg Schrott can look back on a successful 2013. Among other things, Opel has managed to win a very potent partner, namely the German ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobilclub, e.V.). The motoring association is supporting the Opel Rally Cup.

Fast and futuristic: Opel Monza Concept Car. (Opel/©roe).

Fast and futuristic: Opel Monza Concept. (Opel/©roe).

And, most notably, during Essen Motor Show a new Concept Car was presented to the public: the so-called Opel Monza Concept. “The Opel Monza Concept breaks the conventions of automobile design, particularly in the interior,” says Opel CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann. “With trailblazing LED projection technology, we create a completely new infotainment world with a unique sense of space. This comes with connectivity possibilities between drivers and their family, friends and acquaintances, and even with the entire internet community. Aspects that have been unimaginable to date.”

Susanne Roeder





Aston Martin VANQUISHes Stuttgart

The new flagship model, the ultimate GT Aston Martin Vanquish.

Black Beauty: The V12 Vantage Roadster.

(Ad)Vantage for Stuttgart: Schwabe Dr. Ulrich Bez

He has seen it all and done it all. At the age of 70 Dr. Ulrich Bez does not have to prove anything to anyone any more. However, he has written a monumental book: Making Aston Martin.

Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez holding the opening speech for the new Aston Martin Dealer in Filderstadt (Stuttgart).

Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez holding the opening speech for the new Aston Martin Showroom in Filderstadt (Stuttgart).

And it is without a shadow of a doubt that the brand owes its success almost exclusively to this passionate car guy. The engineer who started his automobile career with BMW, nowadays lives Aston Martin. Without exaggeration one can say that Bez is the brand. And it is with utmost conviction that Bez says: “Aston Martin is the coolest brand ever.”

"Coolest brand" (U. Bez).

“Coolest brand” (U. Bez).

A heck of a lot could be and has been said and written about this specific man. To reflect things from his point of view Ulrich Bez has had the book “Making Aston Martin” published with teNeues. We will therefore refrain from inventing yet new expressions to describe this giant of the car making industry. Let us use the words of Paolo Tumminelli, professor at the International School of Design in Cologne and director of the Goodbrands Institute for Automotive Culture, who adequately sums up Bez’s main characteristics by calling him “a car manufacturer, one of the last of a dying breed.”

So for Dr. B’s 70th birthday here is a little serenade to one of the last of his kind:

We met up with him during the opening of the new showroom on the outskirts of Stuttgart, where among other things he proved to be a gifted DJ. Whether or not he would like the following film we are not so certain, because it would be a pity to use an Aston Martin for this kind of sporty exercise. But one never knows what strange ideas some nouveaux riches might have. As for us, we prefer the below type of car for this somewhat offbeat but absolutely stunning stunt.

Yet, let it be said: the Aston in the film “Johnny English” is unforgettable.

Susanne Roeder


see also:

Happy Birthday to You, quattro!


On Many More Outstanding Jubilees to Come!

“30 years quattro GmbH – Pure adrenaline” can be seen as exhibition in the Audi Forum in Neckarsulm, Baden-Württemberg, till 4th January 2014 (free admission, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6pm, Saturdays from 8 am to 5pm). On account of this jubilee Audi is showing some unique Audi quattro cars, accessories through the ages, Customer Racing and, not least of all, some of the people who have shaped 30 years of incessant success, growth and passion.

Beary sportsman from the current quattro accessories selection.

Beary sportsman from the current quattro accessories selection.

In 1983 the name “quattro” was entered in the trade register in order to protect the name from being copied by other carmakers. The positioning of the new brand was quite a challenge, remember those who were involved with the project in its early days. From 1983 to 1994 quattro GmbH sold nothing but accessories – from keyrings, perfume, glasses, caps, little cars for children and other toys, to watches and leather merchandise like briefcases and wallets. Maria Leichtfuß, assistant to the first director of quattro GmbH, Dr. Jens Neumann recalls the early days of the high-end section of Audi engineering: “We felt like pioneers embarking on an adventure of passion. It was a great pleasure for us to inspire the accessories with the spirit of quattro. These simple seven letters infused Audi with something unique, something very special, the delight of power, empathy, and success. This spirit has persevered for more than 30 years – and it will last – since it  is implanted in the hearts of true Audi customers. quattro, this is more than just a word – it is a passion!”

7 = 7, passion = quattro

Audi debuts with its first individualised car.

Audi debuts with its first individualised car.

The year 1995 marked a decisive turning point in the history of the quattro brand: It is the year in which the first individualised Audi, an Audi A8 was presented during IAA in Frankfurt. 1995 was also the IAA where the Audi TT Coupé was presented as concept car, which as opposed to its predecessors quattro Spyder (1991) and Avus quattro came very close to series production. Designer Freeman Thomas had enjoyed great freedom, which resulted in a concept car from which the series production differed only in details. In 1998 the first Audi TT were delivered. Soon after, quattro had become a fully-fledged carmaker with a particularly sporty edge in the highend segment.

Audi TT concept car. Built only once, in search of yet higher performance.

Audi TT concept car. Built only once, in search of yet higher performance.

As of 1996, quattro GmbH was also vehicle manufacturer with their own chassis number for their vehicles. Werner Frowein is another name inextricably linked with the rise of quattro GmbH. Under his leadership from 1998 and ended only by his retirement in 2012 and Franciscus van Meel as his successor, the Audi RS 4 and RS 6 plus the high-performance models Q7 V12 TDI, RS 5, TT RS and RS 3 emerged and of course the super sports car R8.
Audi motorsports: The quattroworld at a glance. "Successful motorsport is part of our brand DNA," Wolfgang Dürheimer, former Member of the Management Board for Technical Development.

Audi motorsports: The quattroworld at a glance. “Successful motorsport is part of our brand DNA.” (Wolfgang Dürheimer, former Member of the Management Board for Technical Development)

The development of the rather exclusive quattro GmbH is breathtaking indeed – from accessories to handmade Audi quattro cars and, as top of the line, Customer Racing, the commitment to motorsports. Customer Racing started in 2009, and just four years later one hundred racing cars based on the Audi R8 have already been handed over to their proud owners.

In spite of having to jet all over the world, to a large extent living from a suitcase, Romolo Liebchen, Head of Customer Racing, considers his job as very rewarding. Liebchen who has been with Audi since 1989, took over the project management for the R8 LMS customer sport, the racing version of the Audi R8, back in 2008: “This has been the best decision in my life”, he says beaming all over his face.

Invented for passionate wo/men: Audi Customer Racing.

Invented for passionate wo/men: Audi Customer Racing.

quattro’s road to success as a very distinct brand full of passion has reached yet another climax in the 30 year jubilee: For the first time in its history more 200,000 quattro cars will have been built this year. This corresponds to an increase of sales by 30 per cent, comparedt to 160,000 cars sold last year. As site manager Fred Schulze proudly points out: “It is here in Neckarsulm that we develop all quattro models for our clients all over the world.”

13,000 hp can be marvelled at on three floors. Due to the tremendously gripping topic,  for the first time this special exhibition takes place on all three levels of the Audi Forum. One fabulous exhibit chases another, including precious pieces from private collectors. The exhibition conveys what the quattro GmbH has been known for since its foundation: high performance, exclusivity and hightech.

Gimme 5 Cylinders, Please!

Let’s therefore talk a bit more about cars now, as the history of this brand is just amazing. There is for instance the yellow “TT”, which only at first sight qualifies as a TT. Looked at more closely it becomes obvious that for a TT the car is too long. As a matter of fact the car is a hybrid in that it is the percursor of the Audi TT RS. The engineers were were racking their brains how to get more performance into the car. This meant working on how to fit six cylinders into this car rather than the hitherto four. Eventually, they took the A4 platform, a longitudinal platform which provided the adequate aggregates for the performance aimed for, and put the lid on the chassis, i.e. the typical TT top hat. The car in this configuration was only built once. Along with a number of other rare exhibits it can be seen in Neckarsulm till 4th January 2014. Soon after the engineers had the clever idea of reviving the 5-cylinder which fitted nicely into the TT platform. A perfect win:win situation, because not only did it allow them to adhere to the original TT platform, but most notably more performance was reached.

"Ur-quattro", the origin of the gripping quattro success story, owned by an Audi quattro enthusiast.

“Ur-quattro”, the origin of the gripping quattro success story, owned by an Audi quattro enthusiast. Below see some photos of this car in action.

Besides this unique piece there are many more delicious examples of engineering and craftsmanship to be seen. Take for instance the red “ur-quattro”, ancestor to what instigated a “quattro-mania”. For the purpose of the exhibition Audi borrowed this car from an absolute quattro and racing aficionado, whose entire collection of quattro cars wears Walter Röhrl’s signature on their bonnets. Or fancy owning a totally individualised Audi 100

A private collector's car. In immaculate condition and fully individualised: Audi 100 long version.

A private collector’s car. In immaculate condition and fully individualised: Audi 100 long version.

long version with specific leather all around, even the rooflining is clad in matching leather in ribs look. Both cars are in perfect nick and look as if they had just left the painting plant.

On the ground floor what immediately attracts one’s attention in the back are the two representatives of Customer Racing. The racing trim of the first polished to bring out its best shine, the other left in its original state after having completed a demanding race. It is in the eye of each individual beholder which car (s)he prefers.

Two versions of Customer Racing cars.

Two versions of Customer Racing cars.

It was … yes, of course, Ferdinand Piëch who introduced the 5-cylinder petrol engine to Audi, to the Audi 100 back in 1976. The engine proved so successful that the car manufacturer has kept it in its portfolio. Franciscus van Meel, too, is enthusiastic about the five-cylinder in-line turbo with its indistinguishable, particularly sonorous and earthy sound. In fact, van Meel could not resist announcing the new five-cylinder turbo in the Audi RS 3.

quattro Today

quattro means gripping hightech, which is symbolised by the technical quattro lizard that has a lot of grip on whichever surface.

quattro means gripping hightech, which is symbolised by the technical quattro lizard having a lot of grip on whichever surface.

“With eight RS-models and the Audi R8 we currently offer the largest range of models in the history of the quattro GmbH,” says Franciscus van Meel, Managing Director of quattro GmbH. And he is extremely proud to announce that to date more than 90,000 cars have left the manufacturing plant. In the meantime, 850 highly motivated quattro employees make sure that these top of the  line cars can be built.

Audi is benchmark in China.

Luck in Chinese. Audi is benchmark in China.

No end to growth is in sight. And like everybody else in the car manufacturing business, quattro GmbH is set to sell increasingly more cars in China. This is part of the plan for increasing internationalisation. As Fred Schulze points out: “We are by far the most successful premium car provider in China and will retain this position. In the course of the year we have surpassed the two-million mark. The first million sold cars took us 22 years, for the second million we will have taken three years. We were the first OEM in China. And our A6 is the most successful premium sedan in this country.” From these words one may deduce that Audi is not afraid of being overtaken by Mercedes-Benz that have announced a model-offensive in Asia.

One car that really is thrilling, as it looks unsuspiciously unobtrusive, is the RS 6 Avant. A wolf in sheep’s clothing… A perfect one-in-all that answers almost any need – except that of a cabriolet driver. Here is a little film encapsulating the spirit of quattro:

In an altogether different vein Ingolstadt, too, is commemorating 30 years, focussing exclusively on quattro motorsports. This exhibition according to Thomas Frank, Head of Audi Tradition, is a unique display of 30 years of motorsports and should not be expected to be seen in the same constellation for a long time. “Home of quattro” – meaning motorsports, not the place of production, as this is Neckarsulm/Heilbronn – can be seen in the Audi museum mobile in Ingolstadt from 15th October to 30th November, daily from 9 am to 6pm. Admission is free.

The Sport quattro S1 made its debut in 1985 during the Rally Marlboro in Argentina.

The Sport quattro S1 made its debut in 1985 during the Rally Marlboro in Argentina.

Some of us will still remember the breathtaking venture when the brand with the four rings set out to do the impossible and climb a ski jump. As early as 1986, they had rally driver Harald Demuth do the stunt. Watching the later version of this adventure, it looks almost an easy test of courage, which is no doubt why Audi subtitled: Copying not recommended!

But how better demonstrate how gripping in a double sense quattro can be …

As Years Go By …

Customers ask for increasingly more individualisation in their cars. quattro GmbH wants to meet these demands. Xmas Wish edThey therefore have imposed themselves an ambitious target: By 2020 they want to be the best premium car supplier. And who knows – after visiting one or both exhibitions in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria and seeing that Christmas is approaching fast, some of us may well feel inspired to have a word with Father Christmas and urge him to make a childhood wish come true:

Susanne Roeder


PS: And as can be seen from these photos, the “Ur-quattro” does not simply sit around lazily in a garage, but enjoys lots of rides right across Europe, as for instance in Zillertal (Austria) or Hamburg. Mind you, the owner is naturally so besotted with his car that he does not dream of driving from Bavaria right to Hamburg, but has the car take a ride on the train.

Meeting his mates in Zillertal.

Meeting his mates in Zillertal.

What is snow to a quattro? But a laugh.

What is snow to a quattro? But a laugh.









The owner of the Ur-quattro is a genuine "Quattronista" !

The owner of the Ur-quattro is a genuine “Quattronista” !

quattro take you down to their place by the river... Hamburg, here we are.

quattro take you down to their place by the river… Hamburg, here we are.

We can climb the highest mountains ... easy peasy!

We can climb the highest mountains … easy peasy!








Big Data for Cars’n all

There is a better way to fly... According to Altair engineers, the company had significant involvement with both the A380 and 787 programs, helping to reduce the weight of both aircrafts.

There is a better way to fly… According to Altair engineers, they had significant involvement with both the A380 and 787 programmes, helping to reduce the weight of both aircrafts.

Aesthetics of Lightweight: Dallara, Airbus & Art

It is our vision to radically change the way in which companies design products and reach decisions.” Mere waffle? Far from it. The man who said it has a solid engineering background as consultant to the automotive industry, beginning his career with the Ford Motor Company in 1978. Seven years later, together with two partners he, James R. Scapa, better known as Jim Scapa, founded Altair engineering. What started out as a small scale consultancy in Troy, Michigan, in the then new field of computer-aided-engineering (CAE), has become a global player indeed, with more than 2,000 employees in 19 countries. Added to which the Altair portfolio of clients reads like an impressive who’s who of the  producing industry. For a first impression of how digitalisation works in an engineering process, this is what CEO Scapa has to say about innovation intelligence:

Digitalisation is omnipresent. And apart from being a most valuable tool for engineers in the production industry, even artists have become infatuated with the clever Altair software.

The making of ...

Design to the Xtreme or: The making of …

So what could the above turn out to be? The result of the rapid simulation process is a sculpture by the London based designer and author of the famous trouser chair Assa Ashuach. And thus it happened, Altair as a software company has entered the London Design Museum – as part of the show Future is Here. Further proof that this company is avantgarde and anything but antiquated. The Israeli, whose work focuses on progressive design and manufacturing, relied on Altair’s programmes solidThinking Inspire and OptiStruct to model his futuristic Femur stool. The stool is exhibited in the Design Museum till the end of October 2013.

3D print of the stool.

3D print of the stool.

Here is the animated version of the genesis, an unusual piece of seating furniture based on the human anatomy: Its creator Ashuach claims that 3D design starts with zero and that it is all about materialising one’s thoughts. This is precisely how Altair would like to see industry employ the software, because only starting from scratch, on a white sheet of paper, makes one reach the best results in weight reduction and durability. However, most use the software as a tool to improve existing design with the aim of reducing weight by removing material where possible.

The making of the Femur stool relied on the same work process as designing cars, parts of cars, parts of aeroplanes, trains and other industrial objects. As the artist explains: “In this project we used a new algorithm that removes any redundant material according to stress zones on the object’s surface. An optimisation of the exterior and material use was made to achieve a light and economical form.” What is unusual for the arts, has become widespread practice in industry, where saving time for production, weight and material means saving money and energy.

Less is more – Learning from Nature

The stool elegantly demonstrates Altair’s capabilities in the field of lightweight design, optimisation and additive layer manufacturing. The name Femur stool indicates that like the human pelvis and femur, this piece of art follows the human bone structure. Meaning, this shaping is driven by the mathematical intelligence of human bone formation. Bionics, i.e. analogies from nature, is much acclaimed in the car manufacturing industry for mimicking human nature, as it helps to reduce the drag coefficient. The difference with Altair’s software OptiStruct is that it does not simply copy nature as a static process. Rather, the company meticulously collects data, be it from the human ossification, from the structure of cobwebs, leaves or trees. This data allows fast and detailed calculations for industrial constructions, resulting in significantly reduced weight and a simultaneously increased lifespan..

For the artist, the looks of an object and perhaps its lifespan are of paramount importance, industry is keen on reducing weight, saving energy and improving the entire lifecycle. Drastic reductions in the CO2 emissions from passenger cars have been ordained by the European Commission and due to the global climate protection agreement of Kyoto will also be introduced worldwide sooner of later. The OEMs are therefore under enormous pressure to reach these goals. In Europe the fleet average to be achieved by all new cars is 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g/km) by 2015 and the hotly debated 95g/km

CO2 curse of modern times

Curse of modern times: CO2

by 2020. The 2015 and 2020 targets represent reductions of 18% and 40% respectively compared with the 2007 fleet average of 158.7g/km. These goals are not only extremely ambitious, they are highly unrealistic, a typical example of the green ivory tower of the EU.

Weightwatching is the Watchword

The experts all agree that there is still enormous potential for improvements and increased efficiency regarding vehicles with combustion engines. No stone is left unturned on the search for greater efficiency. Apart from building ever more efficient engines and recuperating energy while driving, one of the most important aspects is saving weight. Each gram gained translates directly into less CO2 per kilometre. Rule of thumb: On an average, 100 kilograms less weight lead to about half a litre of fuel saved.

Holistic design of a vehicle concept with OptiStruct.

Holistic design of a vehicle concept with OptiStruct.

Slimline is beautiful” could be the motto for the car industry. And this does not only imply using lighter materials in the intelligent material mix. The secret lies in an efficient change of shape, in other words in innovative lightweight construction. Altair is certainly a leading global provider of technology that strengthens client innovation. It therefore comes as little surprise that in the automotive sphere all the OEMs, be it Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Dallara, Daimler, Ferrari, Fiat, Ford, GM, Honda, HWA, Hyundai, McLaren, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Porsche, Renault, Tata, Tesla, Volvo or VW, plus the suppliers all use Altair software one way or another to make their products more efficient. With over 3,000 clients, Altair serves the automotive, aerospace, government and defense, heavy equipment industry sectors as well as the consumer products, ship building, energy, electronics, life sciences, and architectural engineering and construction markets.

Time is money 

Efficiency in the workflow and designing process is crucial in a cost-intensive production industry. This is why Altair wants to revolutionise the whole process. In the automotive industry, the established development process puts priority on the fulfilment of functional targets such as crash safety, fatigue as well as comfort and noise. As a result, weight

Single item designed by OptiStruct: Steps towards optimised VW engine mount for dynamo, A/C compressor and control pump.

Single item designed by OptiStruct: Steps towards optimised VW engine mount for dynamo, A/C compressor and control pump.

targets are frequently not fulfilled early in the development process, which leads to late weight firefighting and often unfavourable compromises between weight and functional targets. The introduction of numerical optimisation methods has improved the possibility to find better compromises. Still, as long as the usage of numerical optimisation is focused on component based, on-demand firefighting, large weight saving potential is left unused. It must be a goal in vehicle development to better utilise the potential that numerical optimization methods provide to help saving mass. The Altair engineers will not grow tired

McLaren takes advantage of Altair' advanced material modelling for its Formular 1 racing-car.

McLaren takes advantage of Altair’s advanced material modelling for its Formular 1 racing-car.

of emphasising how important it is to approach lightweight construction holistically. “We want to give the designer a tool with which he can come up with better solutions right from the beginning.” This means the designer will no longer start with the “white sheet” in front of him.

The old time-consuming and expensive approach.

The old time-consuming and expensive approach.

Thanks to frequently repeatable and fast simulation he can fall back on design suggestions which deliver the most efficient structures within any given framework, before he gets down to work. Real tests become replaced by virtual tests. And ideally, the Altair engineers use their methods and programmes for optimisation to collaborate with the respective OEM from the very outset. As in the case of Opel where the optimisation process concerns the development process of a passenger car.

Simulation – Inspiration – Innovation

Ideally, the Altair team would suggest using design optimisation techniques on every single component in a product, in order to ensure the entire structure is as lightweight as possible. In reality however, this is rarely possible as development schedules need to be

Optimised wheel suspension at the racing-car builder Dallara. (photo: Dallara.)

Optimised wheel suspension at the racing-car builder Dallara. (photo: Dallara.)

met with a limited amount of resources. So when faced with an existing design and often hundreds of components that could potentially be optimised, the challenge is to find out which ones could yield the biggest weight savings. The answer is to screen a product’s components during the early stage of the development process. The screening process helps to answer several vital questions when assessing where to focus time and energy such as:

  • Which steps are necessary to enhance the product?
  • What does this mean economically?
  • How large is the economic and technical potential of an optimisation project?
  • How much will it cost and how much effort will be required for an optimisation project compared to its benefit?
  • What are the consequence-, synergy- or interdependency-effects which may come up during the optimisation project?
  • What are convenient or realistic development targets?
The Altair vision ... massive weight reduction through CAE by means of cloud computing coupled with high-performance computing.

The Altair vision … massive weight reduction through CAE by means of cloud computing coupled with high-performance computing.

Be it on isolated issues such as weight reduction of an aluminium frame at Ferrari, the concept design of a cross car beam at Fiat Group, or a more comprehensive approach, as in the case of Porsche, with virtual vehicle development under the constraints of changing products and processes – Altair HyperWorks, OptiStruct, HyperStudy, HyperMesh and all the sub-programmes will help to produce viable solutions fast. Thus,

The Altair Way: Revolution of the design process as simulation-driven innovation.

The Altair Way: Revolution of the design process as simulation-driven innovation.

Daimler uses HyperMesh for Brake Disc Morphing and to check the durability of the Brake System in specific cars. OptiStruct comes in for multibody dynamic simulation, because it is all about how to best shape the brake discs in order to avoid brake noise and vibration issues. Many more examples can be given from the car industry.

In essence, Jim Scapa and his company focus on two main areas. In the analytics realm it is advanced material modeling, including composites, in business analytics it is solutions provided to analyse massive amounts of data for rapid descision-making.   

Is Sebastian Vettel's "Hungry Heidi" partly designed with the help of Altair software? Most of the time this remains a secret. Not so in the case of the F 1 Sauber Team which does cooperate with Altair Germany.

Sebastian Vettel’s “Hungry Heidi” was constructed without the aid of Altair. But as costs for Formula 1 continue to be cut who knows what the future will bring.

Susanne Roeder


And here is a printed version in German:

Altair: Not a Heavy Metal fan...

Altair: Not a Heavy Metal fan…


Alternatives to Heavy Metal - by Altair

Alternatives to Heavy Metal – by Altair

The Lion King à la Française: Peugeot 208 GTi

Era of great rallying reloaded - Peugeot 205 GTi and its successor 208 GTi

Era of great rallying reloaded – Peugeot 205 GTi and its successor 208 GTi

Déjà vu? – The Return of the GTi Era

Der König der Löwen gibt Gas – Peugeot lässt die GTi Tradition wieder aufleben

Pikes Peak, Ari Vatanen, Michèle Mouton, “Race to the Clouds” – great names evoking memories of the great days of rallying for Peugeot. In 1988 Vatanen won the legendary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in a Peugeot 405 Turbo, ending six years of consecutive Audi quattro victories and introducing five years in which Peugeot held the absolute track record. But the start of these fabulous years of racing were kicked off five years earlier, by the introduction of the 205 Turbo 16. With it Peugeot entered the world of motorsports and managed to secure numerous victories. The 205 Turbo 16 was presented one day prior to the series model 205 GTi. And none other than Jean Todt, five years CEO of Ferrari and from 2009 till this day President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), who till 1981 had been a successful rally co-driver, was asked to take on the motor sport management for Peugeot Talbot Sport. Todt abandoned the Talbot F1 programme and focussed on rallies with the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16. Under his direction Peugeot claimed four World Rally Championship titles with the now-legendary Peugeot 205 Turbo 16, four victories in the Paris-Dakar Rally and two triumphs in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Michèle Mouton, winner of the German Rally Championship 1986, and her 205 Turbo 16.

Michèle Mouton, winner of the German Rally Championship 1986, and her 205 Turbo 16.

Both Vatanen and Mouton celebrated numerous rally triumphs in the tremendously powerful rally version of the little Peugeot 205 16 Turbo (16T). The supermini was said to have had 520 hp, whereas Peugeot officially proclaimed that the Peugeot 205 T16 Evolution 2 group B (1985) had been developed to reach 430 hp. Every year so-called evolution steps were allowed to be homologised in twenty copies of the car and were to be inspected before entering any competition. At any rate, the 205 Turbo 16 turned out to be a rocket that was able to whirl up dust and reshuffle positions in the competitions for championships. So much so that amazon ralllying lady Michèle Mouton won the German Rally Championship in 1986. The “black volcano”, as she was nicknamed on account of her temperament and her long black hair, was the first female driver to win a major championship in rallying. Due to Marc Surer’s terrible accident in the Hessen rally that year the Group B supercars were banned and Mouton withdrew as a rally driver.

Here’s looking at you, GTi

“Je n’ai besoin de personne en Peugeot GTi” (“I do not need anybody in my GTi”) could be the variation on Brigitte Bardot’s Harley Davidson song. No doubt about it, Peugeot has managed to issue another car with cult status. Just like its predecessor 205 GTi the new Peugeot 208 GTi, 30 years later, is the ideal car for rallies and thus revives great memories of rally successes in sequence.

Racy ambiance with red highlights in the interior.

Racy ambiance with red highlights in the interior.

Settling in the comfortable little racer and starting the engine it immediately feels like the perfect little car for speedily roaring round corners with screeching tyres and a lot of adrenalin. Its sporty dynamic interior gives you that supreme cockpit feeling of a little bolide. It is nimble, it is quick, it is great fun to drive. 200 hp allow it to reach 100km/h in 6.8 seconds. GTi is short for Gran Turismo Injection and appeals to individualists who feel passionate about the sporty tradition of the supermini and about its agility.

The supermini segment has always been popular, so the launch of the new 208 in June 2012  was a wise decision, made complete with the 208 GTi for sporty drivers. In fact, the 208 has been Europe’s bestseller in the small car segment since December 2012. In Germany alone, Marcel de Rycker, CEO Peugeot Germany, expects to sell more than 20.000 units of the 208 and about 600 of the GTi within the end of the year. For 22.900 Euro as the starting price the 208 GTi is not exactly cheap, but its package is attractive and sufficient. In spite of being a car with racing genes it includes all current safety features and comfort equipment such as electrical seat heating for the front seats or a multifunctional seven inch colour touchscreen. The chromium plated double exhaust pipe immediately distinguishes the 208 GTi from the other cars in the series.

The GTi and its double endpipe.

The GTi and its double endpipe.

This attention to detail not only applies to the meticulously designed interior, but also to the outer appearance. Apart from a widened track by 10mm at the front and 20mm at the rear, the LED functions of the new headlamps are echoed in the interior where the dashboard is illuminated by LED. To give it the ultimate motorsport feel the new family member of the lion brand is fitted with an aluminium pedal and footrest, inviting its driver to put the pedal to the  metal. The GTi is based on the Allure line, which is the top version of the Peugeot 208.

Pedal to the Metal

Peugeot is back in motosports. For two years the lion brand has recruited ambitious amateur drivers for the 24 hours race on the Nürburgring. With remarkable success. But the French carmaker does not leave it at that. On 30th June Peugeot will come back with a vengeace. This is the date of the spectacular “Race to the Clouds”, with none other than nine times rally champion Sébastien Loeb Peugeot entering the race.

The fast and the furious: Loeb and the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak.

The fast and the furious: Loeb and the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak.

The Frenchman is set to repeat Ari Vatanen’s epochal triumph in the Peugeot 405 T16 back in 1988, followed by another victory with the 405 T16 with Robby Unser. The fast Loeb and the furious Peugeot, a menacing looking car that at first sight bears no resemblance to the street version, will contest this pinnacle of racing, and bring home the trophy in America’s second oldest motorsport event. This means climbing  1.440 metres to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado at 4.301 metres and covering a distance of 19.99 kilometres which involve no less than 156 corners. A real tour de force lies ahead of Loeb who will be tackling the course without the assistance of a co-driver, all to save weight. Needless to say that his racing machine which boasts of devilish 875 hp has been stripped of any features that spell comfort. A spectacular car for a spectacular race heralding the return of Peugeot to real motorsports.

Little red devil: The Peugeot 208 GTi.

Little red devil: The Peugeot 208 GTi.

Summary in German: Der neue Peugeot 208 GTi macht richtig Laune. Der kleine Racer kostet deutlich weniger als der Golf GTI der siebten Generation, verspricht aber genauso viel Fahrfreude. Im Handling ist er phantastisch agil und spritzig. Mit 22.900 Euro in der Grundausstattung liegt er mit dem vergleichbaren VW Polo GTI auf einem Niveau, hat aber 20 PS mehr und ist einen Wimpernschlag, eine Zehntel Sekunde schneller auf 100km/h, nämlich in 6,8 Sekunden. Für Rallye Fans genau das richtige Auto, um zur Pistensau zu werden. Genau das will Peugeot nun in großem Stil demonstrieren – beim Pikes Peak International Hill Climb im Juni in Colorado. Pilot: Sebastian Loeb. Das Fahrzeug: der 208 GTi. Wirklich? Auf den ersten Blick zumindest ist das aggressive, mit unglaublichen 875 PS strotzende schwarze Biest kaum als solcher zu erkennen.

RCZ = Lifestyle for four


Peugeot RCZ = cruising in style.

Peugeot RCZ = cruising in style.

Peugeot’s slogan “Motion and Emotion” is further heightened by the facelifted RCZ. Three years after the introduction of this elegant and classy sports coupe with its distinctive double bubble roof its front has been revamped and it has been given a new nose. This two-and-two seater is perfect for cruising and enjoying a relaxing day out.

The side mirror shows the RCZ silhouette and the dominance of small cars taking over German roads.

The side mirror shows the RCZ silhouette and the dominance of small cars taking over German roads.

As before, it is available with three different engines, the two-liter HDI with 163 bhp in GT trim, i.e. the diesel version, being by far the favourite option. Apart from that there are two petrol engines either with 156 bhp or with 200 bhp in the turbo version. Faced with the choice between the RCZ and the 208 GTi I would most certainly go for the 208 GTi.  This car quite simply feels racy, as soon as you sit in it. It evokes feelings of exhilaration, performance and sheer driving pleasure.

Susanne Roeder


Car for girls? I'd opt for the 208 GTi.

Car for girls? I’d opt for the 208 GTi.

The Lord of the Rings

Audi and its pinnacles of performance: Sssssssssssss und RrrrrrrSssssssssss …

Audi in Red: Die ungleichen quattro-Sportler S3 und RS6 Avant

Audi in Red: Die ungleichen quattro-Sportler S3 und RS6 Avant

Audi lupus est – Der Wahre Wolf im Schafspelz

Audi sitzt in Ingolstadt und Neckarsulm, nicht in Wolfsburg. Das ist ein Glück, denn die geschichtlichen Konnotationen und das Antlitz der wölfischen Burg sind nicht eben schmeichelhaft. Es geht auch nicht um den Wolfsburger Lupo, den Zwerg der VW Familie. Es geht um die etwas schnellere Variante der ohnehin drehmomentfreudigen Modelle mit den vier Ringen. Wieso Neckarsulm? Viele Nicht-Baden-Württemberger wissen noch immer nicht, dass hier ein gleichwertiger Zweitsitz von Audi ist. Mehr noch. Audi Enthusiasten und eingefleischte quattro Fans wissen, dass hier die schnellen RS Modelle und weitere Premium Audis (A4, A6) gebaut werden und dass hier der Sitz der quattro GmbH mit ihren exklusiven Ausstattungsmöglichkeiten für die Fahrzeugindividualisierung wirkt. Von 1969 bis 1984 war Neckarsulm sogar der Hauptsitz. Der Name: NSU Auto Union. Denn wie heute war VW auch Ende der 1960er Jahre in Kauflaune und übernahm kurzerhand die NSU Motorenwerke AG. NSU, einst stolzer Name für den Fahrrad-, Motorrad-, Automobil- und Motorroller-Hersteller, der nach der Gründung anno 1873 sieben Jahre später in die Stadt, wo die Flüsse Neckar und Sulm zusammenfließen, umzog. Doch wer denkt heute  bei den Kürzeln NSU noch an Automobilbau? Gibt man heute NSU bei Google ein, findet sich gerade mal die VW Aktie an erster Stelle, doch dann seitenweise die rechtsradikale Szene samt Einzelheiten zum NSU Prozess. Schade, dass Audi den Begriff NSU nicht schützen lassen konnte. Audi_Ringe

Dessen ungeachtet lockt Audi dieses Jahr mit einem Leckerbissen nach dem andern, egal ob aus der NSU- oder IN-Schmiede. Der Audi S3 und RS6 Avant sind zwei Highlights, die wir vor kurzem ausgiebig fahren durften. Sehr unterschiedlich, aber beide in ihrem Segment herausragend und faszinierend. Das Fazit vorab: mehr davon! Man möchte schlichtweg weiterfahren. Doch das Angebot, den RS6 Avant direkt vor die eigene Haustür und weiter nach Neckarsulm zu fahren, stieß auf taube Ohren. Die Audi Mannschaft ist an Lob gewöhnt. Zu Recht. Das Handling beider Fahrzeuge ist wieder mal beeindruckend präzise, die Verarbeitung lässt keine Wünsche offen. Lediglich der Preis. Da bildet sich auch ohne Lenkrad in der Hand und sportliche Fahrweise die eine oder andere Schweißperle auf der Stirn. Der Fahrspaß à la “Vorsprung durch Technik” im S3 beginnt bei 38 900 Euro. Für den Fünftürer, den neuen S3 Sportback, kommen bescheidene 900 Euro dazu. Fast das Dreifache muss man für den neuen Spitzensportler RS6 Avant berappen. Das neue Flaggschiff kann man ab 107 900 Euro sein eigen nennen. Über Extras können es schnell 130.000 Euro und mehr werden. Aber wer das Auto gefahren ist und es sich leisten kann, will es haben.

Let’s hit the road, yessss!

Let's hit the road, yessss - with sheer unlimited power

Let’s hit the road, yessss – with sheer unlimited power

Satt und gefräßig steht der wahre Lupus Audiensis vor uns da. Satt im Design. Gefräßig, weil er viel Strecke machen will und das blitzschnell wie ein Pfeil. Wären wir uns in und um den Münchner Flughafen herum begegnet, wir hätten uns vermutlich den Vogel gezeigt oder die Lichthupe betätigt. Zu Unrecht, denn er erledigt alle Manöver souverän. Der RS6 Avant ist einfach sauschnell, ein Rennwagen mit Tarnkappe. Man tritt aufs Gas, und er rast davon. Blitzschnell hat er weitere Reserven parat. Ein hammerhartes Fahrerlebnis. Ohne Geisterfahrer zu sein, wird die Gegenfahrbahn zur fast so häufig befahrenen Spur wie die eigene. Natürlich macht es auch Spaß, als Frau das Stereotyp zu bedienen und mal so richtig die Geschwindigkeitskrallen ausfahren zu können. Sieht ja so harmlos aus: Frau am Steuer und kurz vor Ortseinfahrt. Der Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse Fahrer vor uns macht sich schon mal breit – ein Tritt aufs Gaspedal; und er wird zum Punkt im Rückspiegel. Überhaupt können wir in aller Regel relativ unbehelligt durch die Gegen brausen. Bei Audi erklärt man das so: “Der RS6 hat eine höhere Akzeptanz als ein reiner Sportwagen. Denn er bietet ein gewisses Maß an Seriosität in allen Lebenslagen.”

Einen noch unvorstellbareren Job leisten die Bremsen, wenn wir direkt vor Ortseingang brutal in die Eisen steigen. Die RS-Bremsanlage und Keramikbremsen als Sonderausstattung

Von 305 auf 50: Höchstleistung im Runterbremsen

Von 305 auf 50: Höchstleistung im Runterbremsen

greifen sofort knallhart durch. Denn egal wie sehr ein erfahrener Fahrer die brachiale Kraftentwicklung samt famosem Drehmoment von 700 Newtonmetern. Hätten wir gewollt, wir hätten ihn per Kickdown in 3,9 Sekunden von null auf hundert gebracht, ohne Grummeln des Motors. Diese Eckdaten des 560 PS starken geräumigen Kombi dienen nicht der Prahlerei. Sie sagen schlichtweg: dieser Biturbo-V8 kann, wenn er will. Leicht geworden ist er auch. Um etwa hundert Kilogramm hat er abgespeckt. Zu einem erheblichen Teil ist das der Veränderung von einem V10 zu einem V8 Aggregat geschuldet. Ein Downsizing, das zudem trotz Zylinderabschaltung (Cylinder on Demand) von acht auf vier Zylinder im Teillast-Bereich absolut überzeugt. Der Motor ist allzeit bissbereit. Kein Turboloch, ein permanent griffiger Motor, der keinen Quälbereich kennt. Und dazu dieser satte Sound, der bullig dröhnt und mit seinen Sportrohren bollernde Salutgrüße an die Umwelt verteilt.

Der Audi Bolide knurrt auch im Stehen. Er duldet keinen Stillstand. Doch das Leben auf den Straßen der Neidgesellschaft Deutschland, von den Zuständen in der Schweiz ganz zu schweigen, wird dem Herr der Ringe alles andere als leicht gemacht. Freie Fahrt für freie Bürger. Dieser Spruch der 1970er Jahre gegen die damals drohende und auch aktuell immer wieder debattierte generelle Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung auf 130 km/h war mit Sicherheit nicht klug gewählt. Allerdings wäre es zu begrüßen, wenn diese leidige Diskussion um Begrenzungen im Hightech-Land Bundesrepublik endlich ad acta gelegt werden könnte. Der Hochgeschwindigkeitszug TGV rast mit 320 km/h davon, Flugzeuge fliegen mit unvorstellbar schneller Geschwindigkeit durch die Lüfte. Nur das Automobil soll quasi stillgelegt werden. Abgeriegelt wird schon seit Jahrzehnten. Denn auch der RS6 Avant mit Dynamikpaket plus könnte mehr als 305km/h.

"Passen's auf sich auf!" Zuspruch einer Pfarrfrau, auf die der RS6 Avant auch Eindruck machte.

“Passen’S auf sich auf!” Zuspruch einer Pfarrfrau, auf die der RS6 Avant auch Eindruck machte.

Warum also nicht das eine tun, ohne das andere zu lassen? Der Verkehr nimmt weiterhin zu. Speziell im Transitland Deutschland. Mit Sicherheit lässt er sich flüssiger gestalten, wenn auf dreispurigen Autobahnen nach und nach verschiedene Geschwindigkeiten für verschiedene Spuren gelten. Die rechte Spur sollte für 80 bis 120 km/h vorbehalten sein. 125 bis 150 km/h könnten auf der mittleren Spur und Geschwindigkeiten ab 160 km/h auf der linken Spur gelten. Kommt dann ein Fahrzeug deutlich schneller angeschossen, können langsamere Fahrer zügig in die mittlere Spur wechseln, um danach wieder rauszubeschleunigen. Die vierte Spur, wo es sie gibt, sollte grundsätzlich für Geschwindigkeiten ab 190 km/h vorbehalten sein. Zusätzlich könnte es angekündigte Bereiche geben, in denen der Schwerlastverkehr überholen, also von der rechten auf die mittlere Spur ausscheren darf, um nicht über weite Strecken hinter einem erheblich langsameren Artgenossen festzuhängen. Keiner soll zum schnellen Fahren verurteilt werden. Dann bitte auch nicht zum Langsamfahren.

Start these engines instantly!

Nach der Power-Familienkutsche RS6 Avant –  nein, das ist kein Widerspruch. Es ist eine der überzeugendsten Formen des Horaz’schen “dulce et utile” im 21. Jahrhundert, eben die perfekt gelungene Symbiose von “Nutzfahrzeug” und Angenehmem, quasi einem Rennwagen mit Straßenzulassung. Nach dieser granatenmäßigen Power-Familienkutsche also scheint der S3 vergleichsweise harmlos. Scheint. Denn handzahm ist er mitnichten, der Power-Kompakte aus Ingolstadt.

S 3 und Susanne - aber bitte in Misanorot Perleffekt

S 3 und Susanne – aber bitte in Misanorot Perleffekt

Mit Charaktereigenschaften wie 300 PS (221kW), die einen Sprint von null auf hundert km/h in 4,8 Sekunden (S tronic) oder 5,2 Sekunden (manuell) ermöglichen, mit einem Drehmoment von 380 Newtonmetern zeigt auch der S3, dass er mit Fug und Recht zur Riege der Leistungssportler gehört. Er ist knackig, frech und wie gewohnt präzise steuerbar. Der Zwei-Liter Turbomotor mit seinen vier Zylindern ist schon aufgrund seines sparsamen Verbrauchs von 6,9 (S tronic) oder 7 Liter Normverbrauch ein weiteres Highlight in der quattro-Phonie der sportlichen Allradler. Auch der S3 wird wieder mit einer RS-Variante aus Neckarsulm getoppt, allerdings muss man auf ihn noch ein paar Jährchen warten. Und wer will das schon.

30 Jahre quattro GmbH

Außer einem Feuerwerk neuer Modellgenerationen und Facelifts feiert Audi dieses Jahr auch 30 Jahre quattro GmbH. Alle RS Modelle werden in der Manufaktur und hundertprozentigen Tochter von Audi in Neckarsulm gefertigt. Dazu kommt der Mittelmotorsportwagen R8. Und nicht nur das. Die quattro GmbH, die dem Motto „Power, Speed und Individualität“ huldigt, hat drei Geschäftsfelder. An erster Stelle stehen Entwicklung und Bau der Hochleistungsmodelle, also der RS- und R8-Typen. Ein zweites Betätigungsfeld sind die Fahrzeugindividualisierung und die Accessoires. Passend dazu befasst sich die quattro GmbH auch mit dem Kundenmotorsport, dem Audi Sport Customer Racing, in dem so bekannte Rennfahrer wie Markus Winkelhock und Rahel Frey unterwegs sind.

Rechtzeitig zum Jubiläum hat Audi dieses Fahr vier neue RS-Modelle auf die Straße gebracht: Den Anfang machte der RS4 Avant, dessen dritte Generation seit Jahresbeginn beim Händler steht. Darauf folgten in schneller Folge der RS7, der RSQ3 und zuletzt eben der Herr der Ringe, der atemberaubend schnelle RS6 Avant. Allein im letzten Jahr haben 11.500 RS und R-Modelle ihren Käufer gefunden. Ganz zu schweigen vom Wunsch der Automobilisten nach Individualisierung. Sie hielt im vergangenen Jahr in 160.000 Audi Modelle Einzug. Wer da unkt, der RS6 Avant und seine Artverwandten seien eine aussterbende Rasse, der irrt sich hoffentlich gewaltig. Denn zum einen wird die Gruppe der Autobegeisterten, die gerne sportlich schnell unterwegs sind, nicht versiegen. Zum andern haben Hightech die Verbräuche der RS-Modelle dermaßen reduziert, dass der Normverbrauch des Zweitonners RS6 Avant gerade noch bei 9,8 Liter Kraftstoff auf hundert Kilometer liegt. Das hätte vor wenigen Jahren ein Kleinwagen verbraucht.

Kommandozentrale vom Feinsten

Kommandozentrale vom Feinsten

Reinsetzen und wohlfühlen. Das haben sowohl der S3 als auch der RS6 Avant von Anfang an bei der Fahrerin ausgelöst. Auch nicht ansatzweise das leiseste Gefühl von Unbehagen oder gar Unwohlsein vor schneller Beschleunigung und vielen Pferdestärken. Ausgefeilte Technik, bequeme Sportsitze, ein  und ein Interieur vom Feinsten machen’s möglich.

Susanne Roeder


 PS: Und weil die leidige Diskussion zu Tempolimits rechtzeitig zum Wahlkampf wieder ein Kampfthema wird, möchte ich an dieser Stelle ausdrücklich auf die Meinung von Mobil in Deutschland e.V. hinweisen:
Kein Tempolimit 120 km/h: Nichts spricht dafür, vieles dagegen!


Constructed with Love

AstonRapideS ed

The Sound of Silence of the Mas de Torrent

Another Garden of Eden

Another Garden of Eden

Counterpointed by

Spotlight on Charm

Spotlight on Charm

The Cascading Sonorous Humming of this Wickedly Breathtaking Beautiful Beast, the Aston Martin Rapide S – a genuine example of fully fledged sportsmanship

Are you a member,” intonated the voice behind me. My answer was prompt and perky: “No, I am not, but I have come with a member.” This incident which happened to me at one of the posh golf clubs in Surrey many years ago reminds me of the “U and non U” of the Aston Martin society, a society very much aware of its unique tradition and quite rightly so. Its philosophy embraces exquisite luxury and true sportiness. The mythical attraction is further heightened by the impossible missions which 007 alias James Bond, gentleman and sportsman through and through, accomplishes with sheer prowess and virtue. In short, Aston Martin has become a legend and is going stronger than ever – regarding racing, sales figures and renown.

This year, this marque with its impressive Headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, celebrates one hundred years of sports car excellence with a Grand Tour from the Middle East through Central Europe and Great Britian to America and ultimately Asia – starring the Aston Martin Vanquish. In fact, the legendary British carmaker has heralded a succession of exquisite celebrations throughout the year. One such unforgettable event was the launch of the Aston Martin Rapide S in Catalonia, Spain, in springtime to which we feel honoured to have been invited. It soon became very clear that the Aston Martin team has managed to unleash yet another iconic masterpiece of engineering and design.

Rapide S evoking the premium brand's 100 year history

Rapide S evoking the premium brand’s 100 year history

A secretive mystique envelops all 65 000 exemplars of these beautiful sports cars. 65 000 is the number of cars sold in the course of a century. A mere 15 000 Aston Martins were sold up to the turn of the millennium, eighty per cent of them in the United Kingdom. Since Dr. Ulrich Bez joined the company as CEO the marque has begun to compete on the international market. Since then a further 50 000 of these handcrafted cars have been sold, world-wide. Just think: this makes even the premium, expensive and highly sought-after Porsche 911 a mass product. The selected few who can pride themselves on calling an Aston Martin their own, are acutely aware of driving an exquisitely special car, a car full of controlled understatement. The marque, like the British  Monarchy, has managed to outlast quite a number of difficult times. It therefore comes hardly as a surprise that this epitome of Britishness in style, demeanour and sturdiness, this first-rate charismatic brand is employed in Her Majesty’s Service. The royal seal “By Appointment to His Royal Highness the Princess of Wales – Motor Car Manufacturer and Repairer” has a definite ring to it and makes these cars so supremely British and so very special.

After all, how many countries can boast not only a surviving monarchy, but one that for centuries has been enjoying widespread acclaim? As for the elitist car manufacturer Aston Martin, the marque has become another uniquely British institution enjoying worldwide acclaim and admiration. An Aston Martin accordingly has to be driven in style. It is a majestic, a royal  and an overtly sporty car – as became obvious once again when the Earl of March and Kinrara, better known as Lord March, host of the Goodwood Festival of Speed and generally Goodwood supremo, chased the new Vanquish up the famous 1.16 mile Goodwood hillclimb with its blind corner and sudden wall towards the end of the hillclimb.

Oh happy day...

Oh happy day…

It has spirit, it has soul, it has sound, it has speed, it has style, and it has luxury. In fact it does not leave any wish unfulfilled. Driving an Aston Martin is racing and revelling on Cloud 9. How is this possible? Any Aston Martin model is quite simply constructed with love. A small dedicated team accounts for the genuine authenticity of these cars, be it a Vanquish, a Rapide, a Vantage or one of the DB models. The latter being named after Sir David Brown, who in 1947 purchased the company for just over £20,500. The most famous of the so far over 14 individual DB models and derivatives is the Silver Birch DB5 figuring in the James Bond film “Goldfinger” and regarded by many as the most beautiful Aston Martin ever, the most famous of the James Bond cars and possibly the most famous car in the world. And, just in time for the 100 years celebration, Sean Connery’s DB5 has made its reappearance in the latest Bond film “Skyfall”, the most historic James Bond film to date.

Skyfall starring the DB5

Skyfall starring the DB5

Over the years, quite a number of different Aston Martins have figured alongside the MI6 agent in Her Majesty’s Service. This liaison has proved very successful as it combines genuine Britishness in the best possible fashion.

Noblesse & Tradition Obligent: Rapide S

Just as the loving hands of the masseurs in the Spa of the Mas de Torrent, which served as headquarters during the Rapide S launch, manage to accomplish a maximum sense of care and well-being, the Aston Martin is handled with maximum devotion during the act of being shaped into existence. This car is yet another example of the designers’ belief in simplicity. The Rapide S’ pure design means that it is incredibly well proportioned, the “S curve” being the typical Aston Martin signature. But design is not only shape. To the Aston Martin team it furthermore includes colour and the play with shades. “The team has looked closely at the individual contour lines of each of the cars to determine not only the right colours and shades, but also to create a template by which the paint changes from dark to light and where the graduated effect sits,”  Aston Martin design director Marek Reichman explains.

As one presses one of the buttons on the lavishly designed dashboard to start the engine, go into reverse or start the sport mode, it feels a bit like acting in her Majesty’s Secret Service as MI6 agent.

Always "Q"ed in.

Always “Q”ed in.

  The car certainly conveys this aura – an aura which in Spain was distinctly augmented by the presence of the men in black servicing the dozen Rapide S sports cars cruising and speeding through flat and mountainous Catalonia. The new luxury Gran Turismo Rapide S with its new 6.0-litre V12 engine producing 558 PS is the most powerful four-door Aston Martin to date. Naturally, it can be ordered in Skyfall silver. This is further proof that the bonds between 007 and Gaydon remain forever strong.

Wings of speed

Wings of speed

More power, more beauty, same soul”. This demand on the new model has been miraculously accomplished. The stunningly elegant four-door silhouette perfectly suits the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Once the naturally aspirated V12 powerplant is started, the beast instantly awakens to life. Its sound just takes one’s breath away. Why listen to the undoubtedly perfect 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system, when the engine of the Rapide S delivers an aural experience like no other! The wolf in sheep’s clothing cannot hide its true character, which besides the race car qualitities of this luxury sports car is further emphasised by the impressive and striking new full grille. It is almost double the size of the Rapide’s front grille, imbuing the new car with an even more sporting, forceful demeanour. And Dr. Bez is extremely proud of the fact that this innovative new front grille design also complies with the latest European pedestrian protection regulations. Aston Martin holds a patent on the construction of its aluminium front grille which will move rearwards on impact, whilst the central and outboard chin stiffeners give rigidity to the lower structure and support achievement of the leg impact regulations. This ingenious solution means that Aston Martin can remain true to its design ethos, and avoid the use of plastic grilles and nose cone bumpers that stretch up in front of the bonnet.

It would be tedious to enumerate all the various changes distinguishing the Rapide S from its predecessor, the Rapid. The fact is: This car is not just a facelifted Rapide, which in 2010 was Aston Martin’s first four-door coupe. The Rapide S has an entirely new engine, rocketing its power from 477 to 558 horsepower and its torque from 600 to 620 newtonmeter.

Handcrafted with love

Handcrafted with love

Moreover, the whole design has been aesthetically further heightened, making this Aston appear very sporty, longer, extremely sleek and elegant at the same time. Needless to say, every sinew, every stretch of hand stitched leather, every appealing detail of the Rapide S is so enticing and full of life because it has been chiselled with the outmost love and dedication.

Congratulations and Celebrations

Aston Martin. This uniquely charismatic brand with its honourable racing history will celebrate its centenary in a racy fashion. As early as 1959 the DBR1 won Le Mans. Many successes in racing were to follow. In fact, with the Vantage GTE, the V12 Vantage GT3 and the V8 Vantage GT4, Aston Martin boasts a full portfolio of race cars. Sir Stirling Moss, an Englishman and sportsman through and through and considered the best driver never to have won the Formula One World Championship – due to his chivalrous and altruistic behaviour towards his rival Mike Hawthorn – likes to remember his races in the DBR1: “At Goodwood I could really push the DBR1 to its limits. And on the Nürburgring, which in my opinion was the best circuit in the world in my time, the DBR1 was a great car to drive around there. It handled beautifully, you could really throw it around, which was how I wanted to drive. The brakes were great and the car had lovely balance.”

Victorious Stirling in Goodwood (1959)The models in the decades to follow have kept their lovely balance and have excellent brakes. And as research and development never stops, one highlight in this year’s string of centenary events will be the hydrogen Rapide S starting in the Nürburgring 24-hour race. In January the FIA gave this car its seal of approval. About 20 per cent of the qualifying laps were driven with zero emission using hydrogen. This hydrogen Aston Martin Rapide S will signal a premiere in racing history. CEO Bez is convinced that in 20 to 30 years to come Aston Martin will be able to deliver sports cars exclusively using hydrogen, thus producing zero emission.

Apart from the Nürburgring in which Aston Martin apart from its hydrogen car will compete with a line of its most impressive cars, the charismatic marque will parade one hundred Aston Martin road cars around the famous La Sarthe circuit. And for the devoted Aston Martin customers there are Centenary Editions of the V8 Vantage, DB9 and Rapide – each restricted to 100 examples. These cars are now available to order in each of the 46 countries in which Astons are sold. Befitting their low-volume status, the Centenary Edition cars feature a bespoke paint finish and solid sterling silver Aston Martin wing badges with tailored ‘trans flux’ enamel inlay.

Will iconic cars like the Aston Martin Rapide S soon be consigned to the history books, as Jeremy Clarkson predicts with sadness? No, never ever. We firmly believe in the ultimate sanity of mankind. It would thus be utter madness and ludicrous to get rid of these beautiful sculptures of speed emitting inimitable sounds of music. We do however go along with the view of the protagonist of the BBC car series “Top Gear” on the 12 cylinder Vantage, which no doubt also applies to the Rapide S, as to any other Aston Martin creation: ”It is fantastic. It is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.”

Susanne Roeder


Golden Eye - Susanne enjoying the Rapide S

Golden Eye – Susanne enjoying the Rapide S

Rahel Frey driving in the Blancpain Endurance Series



Good news for all Rahel Frey fans: Rahel will be driving this year’s five races of Blancpain Endurance Series for Audi in the R8 LMS. This has been confirmed after a brief test driving in Le Castellet. For all Rahelisti: Enter the following dates firmly in your agenda and watch out for Rahel Frey in her Audi R8 LMS:

Round Date Country Circuit
1  14.04.2013 Italy Monza
2  02.06.2013 United Kingdom Silverstone
3  30.06.2013 France Paul Ricard
4  27.07.2013 Belgium Spa-Francorchamps
5  22.09.2013 Germany Nurburgring

Further negotiations with Audi are on the way. A positive outcome from these talks would involve Rahel’s racing outside of Europe… In order to take place in a rather prestigious race Rahel is looking for a sponsor. She needs another 150 000 Euro – a pittance im terms of racing budgets. Hey ye sponsors around the globe: This is your chance to get coverage and to sponsor this rising star.

At any rate let us keep our fingers crossed for racing Rahel!

Susanne Roeder