For Whom the Bell Tolls

Sentimental Journey …


Journalism & Car Industry, the synergetic existence. Journalist Erhard Roeder, his wife, his brother-in-law Dr. Gerhard Gallus & his trusty VW Beetle from 1950, displaying a trophy on its rooftop designed by his brother-in-law and signed by all the region’s  journalistic publications, TV and radio stations at the time. photo: Erich Gallus.

Mightier than the sword?

We applaud courageous journalism in situations of apparent inequality or clandestine motive. Journalists have long championed cause, often at their peril. Just think of Turkey – a country on the fast lane right into despotism, arbitrary totalitarianism and journalists are incarcerated for voicing the democratic views of the many..

However, with hype journalism are we holding a double edged sword? Journalists, mark scientist, engineer and inventor Alexander Graham Bell’s words:

Don’t keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone and following one after the other like a flock of sheep. Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods.

This does not only hold true for journalists following the common trend and creating one shortsighted hype after another. It also applies to politicians who eagerly seek a populist position to inflate their own standing among populist environmental movements by bashing industry, more particularly the Geman car industry and its combustion engines. Little attention, nor journalistic time is paid towards the developments in synthetic fuels or advanced power outputs of today’s diesel engines.

Our political and journalistic colleagues have embraced and created a legacy of mythological follies surrounding the combustion engine and have become blinded to the fact that the well-to-wheel, womb-to-tomb energy balance of electric vehicles is far more detrimental to our environment. At Stuttgart University they have proven that industry can create CO2 neutral fuels. Who talks about that, such a monumental feat and seemingly placed in the bottom drawer when it comes to capturing the lead lines or attention of our elected leaders? The mind boggles – in dismay and dispair.

Still, we believe the death-bell will more likely toll for blinkered politicians than for journalism or the combustion engine or excellent engineering. Despite the populist road we’re being encouraged to take, the unbeaten track Bell suggests is still discoverable. Allow journalism to detour our attention back to the combustion engine for the drive into the woods.










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:

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 ;-) .



Synthetic Fuels

SCheiderA Strong Case for Alternative Fuels

“There is enormous potential in synthetic fuels”, says Mahle CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider. It is a known fact that combustion gngines with synthetic fuels can significantly help to reduce CO2!

Why is the money squandered on price reductions for e-mobility vehicles rather than injecting the money into R&D for producing synthetic fuels at a reasonable price, one may well wonder. At last there is a CEO who resolutely speaks in favour of alternative synthetic fuels!

Here is an excerpt from Scheider’s speech on account of yesterday’s Annual Report:

“In the long term, synthetic fuels even facilitate CO2-neutral individual mobility with the combustion engine too, since they bind just as much CO2 during production as they later emit during combustion.

MAHLE is therefore making the case in the industry and in politics for the effective promotion of alternative fuels — that is to say, synthetically produced fuels, ethanol, and CNG. Alternative fuels constitute the fastest route to reducing CO2 in the transportation sector.

At the same time, no major interventions in the supply infrastructure would be necessary. Furthermore, they also represent a long-term solution to producing climate-friendly commercial vehicle powertrains.”


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.


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

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





Porsche 718 Cayman & the Technicolour Dreamcoat

  718Cayman “Let me have cars about me that are genuine,

nimble sports cars and such as never sleep.

Yond Cayman has a crisp and hungry look.

Such cars are fun to dash around with.”

Bullish Car ready to race any moment.

Bullish Car ready to race any moment.

True, not quite the Julius Caesar as you may know him in his famous aside from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’. Above all, there are no casualties to mourn for. Quite the contrary. Here is a type of a sports car that is utter joy to drive. Hence the many different colours for having fun …

Racetrack in Sturup (Sweden).

Racetrack in Sturup (Sweden).

This is why I call my little blog “718 Cayman and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat” as direct allusion to the first Tim Rice / Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical.

Feeling blue? No, heaven, I'm in heaven - dancing cheek to cheek ;-)

A Bolt of Blue – or: Heaven, I’m in heaven – dancing cheek to cheek ;-)

Any “old” Porsche is just so very Porsche – the sheer sight, the sound, the drive. Mesmerising. And surely here is a new family whose 3 numbers will have you transfixed – be it as Boxster, be it as Cayman. A Porsche simply is a Porsche, is a Porsche, is a Porsche…

And let me not forget: The 718 Cayman really is reminscent of her famous predecessor 718 of the late 1950ies and even more so its coupé version (718 GTR)  that did so well in Targa Florio, Sebring and of course Le Mans. You need to look at the curves of the design – and you’ll see it straight away. Cheers to Peter Varga and his team.

I believe I can fly...

I believe I can fly…

But before I continue to revel and be dazed by this upcoming next Porsche icon, why not let my colleagues talk about the little sports car. Here goes:

Have fun! And as for an academic footnote:

These matching shoes are made for driving - not the matching nail varnish. What a relief.

These matching shoes are made for driving – not the matching nail varnish. What a relief.

PS: Rally legend Walter Röhrl can bring out the worst in any Porsche. Bliss to drive with him. Such a ferocious, yet precise and clean manner of driving.

There is a certain difference between his driving ...

There is a certain difference between his driving …

 … and mine.

Loves winding roads, loves the racetrack.

Loves winding roads, loves the racetrack.

 Susanne Roeder


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.


Text: Susanne Roeder

Photos: Daimler AG


From the Racetrack to the Road

This season's Black Magic: LMP1 Porsche 919 hybrid

This season’s Black Magic: LMP1 Porsche 919 hybrid

Modulare Baukastenstrategie hin oder her: Der Motor bleibt im Heck!

Uns geht es nicht in erster Linie um Volumina.“ Matthias Müller, der Vorstandsvorsitzende der Porsche AG, wird nicht müde, dies zu betonen. So auch bei der diesjährigen Jahrespressekonferenz. Worum es stattdessen geht? Um ein gesundes „betriebswirtschaftliches Ergebnis und um eine Kundenbasis, die für uns berechenbar ist und bleibt“. Das Ziel sei immer, absolutes Wachstum zu erzielen. Nicht nur das ist dieses Jahr gelungen. Nach Audi am Wochenanfang konnte auch Porsche innerhalb der Volkswagen-Familie ein neues Rekordergebnis verkünden, das bisher beste seiner Konzerngeschichte. Die Marge lag bei 16 Prozent und soll auch im laufenden Jahr die 15 Prozentmarke erreichen. Womit sich erneut bestätigt, dass Porsche einen erklecklichen Teil zum Umsatz im Volkswagenkonzern beiträgt.

Sustainability and Porsche Intelligent Performance

Der Sportwagenhersteller stellt sich von jeher rundum nachhaltig auf, ist nicht auf der Jagd nach kurzfristigen Erfolgsquoten. Das betrifft die Finanzpolitik – Stichwort Währungssicherung – genauso wie ein kontinuierliches sogenanntes „integriertes Porsche Prozessoptimierungsprogramm.“ Die Planung fürs Jahr im Einzelnen will Porsche nicht ausrollen, zumal man gerade erst März habe und die konjunkturelle und geopolitische Situation höchst volatil sei. Genau hier bezahle sich langfristiges Vorgehen. Um Planungssicherheit zu haben, betreibt die Porsche AG Währungssicherung, kann dadurch zwar nicht am ‚Doping für die Konjunktur‘ partizipieren, ausgelöst vom massiven Sturzflug des Euro, war andererseits aber auch gegen den Verfall des Rubel gefeit. „Wie sonst hätten wir gegen den Trend knapp 4.800 Autos in Russland verkaufen können?“

So viel an strategischen Zahlen aber war zu hören: Zwischen sieben und acht Prozent des Umsatzes müsse die Porsche AG jedes Jahr neu investieren, um die kostenintensiven gesetzlichen Anforderungen erfüllen und die Produktpalette weiter ausbauen zu können. Allein die strengen CO2 Auflagen schlügen pro Fahrzeug mit rund 2.000 Euro zu Buche. Eine neue Modellreihe zu installieren, allein der Aufbau dafür koste gut eine halbe Milliarde Euro.

Seventh Model Range

Und in der Tat kursiert schon längere Zeit das Gerücht um eine weitere, nämlich siebte Baureihe, welche „Ende dieser Dekade“ kommen soll. Wann genau dies sein wird, in welchem Segment und ob vielleicht gar als reines Elektromodell oder an welchem Standort es produziert werden soll, darüber hüllt sich das Unternehmen nach dem Motto „Reden ist Silber, Schweigen ist Gold“ in letzterem.

Im Rahmen der Baukastenstrategie fällt Porsche die Oberhoheit über den MSB und den MMB zu, also über den Modularen Standardantriebs-Baukasten und Modularen Mittelmotor Baukasten. Heißt das nun, dass alle Porsche zukünftig mit einem Mittelmotor unterwegs sind? Mitnichten! Müller betont klar und deutlich: „Der Motor des 911 bleibt im Heck.“ Man habe mit dem Mittelmotor für Boxster und Cayman eine gute Aufteilung der Modellpalette erreicht. Wenn der Motor eines 911, der eigens für besondere Erfordernisse im Rennsport ausgelegt wird, etwas anders platziert wird, sei das eine andere Geschichte. Und gebetsmühlenartig fügt Müller hinzu und man nimmt es ihm ohne Einschränkung ab: „Ein 911 bleibt ein 911.“ Mit diesem Versprechen hatte er seinerzeit sein Vorstandszimmer im denkmalgeschützten Backsteinbau in Zuffenhausen übernommen – auf dessen interne Modernisierung er noch immer warten muss. Auch das eine nachhaltige Strategie, die er locker verschmerzen können wird.

A propos 911: Noch im vierten Quartal wird die Produktaufwertung des Inbegriffs eines Sportwagens in Serie gehen. Vorgestellt wird das Facelift auf der IAA im September. Und auch der neue Alte wird die 52jährige Evolutionsgeschichte wieder mit deutlichen Verbesserungen, zum Beispiel in punkto weitere Emissionsreduzierung und weniger Gewicht, erfolgreich fortschreiben.

Reaching for the Championship

Le Mans, das berühmteste Langstreckenrennen der Welt, lag und liegt Müller besonders am Herzen. Man war angetreten mit dem Anspruch „mithalten“ zu können. Nach 16 Jahren Abstinenz ging es wirklich nicht ums Siegen. „Aber wenn man dann als Führender kurz vor dem Ziel ausgebremst wird, ist das schon bitter.“ Jetzt fiebert der Vorstandsvorsitzende zusammen mit allen Beteiligten dem diesjährigen Rennen an der Sarthe entgegen. Diesmal tritt Porsche sogar mit drei Teams, unter ihnen auch der Formel 1 Fahrer Nico Hülkenberg, und einem „noch besseren 919 Hybrid“ an. The heat is on. Schon Ende März kommt es zum Testrennen, zum WEC-Prolog, gegen Toyota und Audi in Paul Ricard in Südfrankreich.

Und in der Tat verrät Matthias Müller kein Geheimnis, wenn er verkündet, „dass wir dieses Mal schon gerne auf dem Siegerpodest stehen wollen.“ Doch es ist nicht Art for Art’s Sake, es geht nicht um Siegen um des Siegens willen. Vielmehr kommen die Erfahrungen und Erkenntnisse „aus dem rasenden Hightech Labor des 919 Hybrid“ allen zukünftigen Porsche Fahrzeugen und damit den Kunden zu Gute. Heute lautet das Gebot der Stunde mehr denn je: Von der Strecke auf die Straße. Und damit thematisiert der Vorstandsvorsitzende auch die Elektromobilität: „Für uns stellt sich nicht die Frage, ob ein reines Elektrofahrzeug mit einer Porsche-typischen Performance auf die Straße kommt, sondern wann werden wir mit einem solchen Fahrzeug unsere Kunden begeistern.“

Susanne Roeder




Let’s Twist Again: Spanischer Tanz auf Eis und Schnee

Loves rough terrain and snow: Seat Leon X-Perience.

Loves rough terrain and snow: Seat Leon X-Perience.

Agiler Seat Leon X-Perience meistert

verschärfte Anforderungen dank Allrad

Ein guter Tänzer lässt sich nicht aus dem Takt bringen, macht keinen Schritt daneben. Damit Autos in gebirgigen und schneereichen Gegenden in der Spur bleiben oder schnell wieder in diese finden, brauchen sie zumindest permanenten Allradantrieb. Mit gutem Grund. Denn was einen Front- oder Hecktriebler an vereister oder verschneiter Steigung schnell durchdrehen lässt, bringt einen Pkw mit Allrad noch lange nicht aus dem Takt. Der Seat Leon X-Perience jedenfalls – das X symbolisiert Allradantrieb – bestand den Härtetest im Schnee von Tirol. Ob unebenes Gelände, schneeglatte Rodelpiste, gebirgige Steigung mit schlagartig verändertem Fahrbelag oder Ausweichmanöver vor plötzlichen Hindernissen – der Allrad-Kombi im Offroad-Look ist den Widrigkeiten winterlicher Straßenverhältnisse wegen seines Antriebs gut gewachsen, kehrt selbst im Anschluss an absichtlich oder unabsichtlich herbeigeführte Drifteinlagen sicher und stabil auf den richtigen Weg zurück.
Mit dem X-Perience (drei Turbodiesel mit einem Leistungsspektrum von 110 bis 184 PS, ein 1,8 Liter Benziner mit 180 PS) steht seit wenigen Monaten ein solides neues Allradmodell in feschem Gewand parat – für 28.75 bis 33.060 Euro. Der solide Spanier unter dem Dach von Volkswagen ist mit einer Haldex-Kupplung der fünften Generation und ABS ausgestattet, wie in vielen Fahrzeugen der Wolfsburger verbaut. Die hydraulische Lamellenkupplung mit elektronischer Regelung ermöglicht automatisch eine variable, gleichmäßige Kraftverteilung zwischen vorderem und hinterem Achsgetriebe. Bricht das Fahrzeug aus, greift das ESP ein, bringt das Auto trotz gedrücktem Gaspedal quasi zum Stehen, um es zu stabilisieren und sodann eine Weiterfahrt zu ermöglichen. Das System regelt stufenlos bis zu 100 Prozent in beide Richtungen. Merkt die Haldex-Kupplung, dass das Fahrzeug zum Beispiel auf der Vorderachse gar keine Haftung hat, so schickt sie die Kraft stufenlos nach hinten, im Extremfall um bis zu 100 Prozent.
Neue Stoßdämpfer stellen sich der rasanten Fahrt über Stock und Stein. Der kommen auch 27 Millimeter mehr Bodenfreiheit sowie eine robuste Schutzverkleidung der Türschweller und Radhäuser entgegen. Lenkung und Ansprechverhalten des X-Perience sind angenehm direkt.
Wie präzise und sicher das Fahrzeug mit Allradantrieb unterwegs ist, lässt sich spätestens im Vergleich erkennen, nämlich wenn man ESP ausschaltet. Das ist das Spielfeld für Freunde des Driftens. Denn jetzt bricht das Auto viel schneller aus, das System greift erst deutlich später regelnd ein. ESP auch in ausgeschaltetem Modus noch zu 25 Prozent aktiv. Bei jedem Neustart des Motors, ist ESP wieder voll aktiviert.
Der Grenzgänger zwischen der Kombivariante Leon ST mit Allrad und einem im Portfolio von Seat noch nicht vorhandenen ausgewachsenen Geländewagen ist ein familienfreundliches Allwetterfahrzeug, das Wertigkeit und Wohlfühlambiente vermittelt und gleichzeitig eine sportlich sichere Fahrweise erlaubt. Bernhard Bauer, seit wenigen Monaten neuer Seat Geschäftsführer in Weiterstadt, ist überzeugt davon, dass der X-Perience seinen Teil zu einem weiterhin hohen Absatz beiträgt.
In Deutschland hat Seat in den vergangenen Jahren um mehr als 60 Prozent zugelegt, mit jeweils zweistelligem Wachstum pro Jahr. „Diese Marke ist unwahrscheinlich in Bewegung,“ freut sich Bauer. Was wenige wissen: Die mehr als 93.000 verkauften Seat-Modelle des vergangenen Jahres stabilisieren den spanischen Automobilhersteller auf dem zehnten Platz der meistgekauften Marken in Deutschland. Auch der Marktanteil von Seat Deutschland hat mit neun Prozent deutlich zugelegt. Denn während der Privatkundenmarkt in Deutschland seit Jahren absackt – von einst 68 Prozent auf mittlerweile 30 Prozent – ist Seat weiter gewachsen. Und ganz besonders erstaunlich: Auch im Flottensegment zeigt sich die Marke auf Erfolgskurs, mit einem satten Plus von 27 Prozent.
Das neueste Mitglied in der Leon-Familie setzt die auf Nachhaltigkeit ausgelegte Produktionsweise übrigens fort und wird wie alle Leons zu 25 Prozent mit Solarenergie produziert.
Susanne Roeder

Encore, encore! Let's go dancing in the snow again.

Encore, encore! Let’s go dancing in the snow again.

Big & Beautiful: BMW X6

BMW X6 in front of the BMW museum in Spartanburg, where the car is produced.

BMW X6 in front of the BMW museum in Spartanburg, where the car is produced.

… strotzt vor strammer Dynamik

Gestreckter, sehniger, dynamischer. Der neue BMW X6, das Flaggschiff der X Familie, besticht in der zweiten Generation mit geschärfter Eleganz und Sportlichkeit. Ein Fahrzeug wie aus einem Guss, dessen extrovertiertes Design Aficionados begeistern, die Geschmackslager aber weiterhin spalten wird. Beliebt war das Sports Activity Coupé (SAC), eine Kreuzung zwischen den robusten X Modellen mit Geländewagencharakter und der bestimmenden sportlichen Eleganz eines BMW Coupés, von Anfang an. Allerdings nicht so sehr in Deutschland, wo der X6 ganz oben auf der Liste der meistgeklauten Fahrzeuge steht. Das wiederum führt zu einer horrend hohen Versicherungssumme von zwischen 3.000 und 4.000 Euro, die ein jahrzehntelang unfallfreier Fahrer derzeit löhnen muss. Seit seiner Einführung im Jahr 2008 wurden weltweit dennoch etwa 260.000 Fahrzeuge verkauft. Ein großer Erfolg für den On- und Offroader, mit dem die Münchner selbst nicht gerechnet hatten.

Wie alle Mitglieder der X Familie bis auf den Kleinsten, den X1 mit Produktionsort Leipzig, wird auch der X6, mit dem BMW seinerzeit die hauseigene neue Fahrzeugkategorie mit Schrägheck und nach hinten stark abfallender Dachlinie einführte, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, produziert.

Eleganz und Sportlichkeit im Großformat

Keine Frage, dieses vor Kraft strotzende Fahrzeug mit seinen markanten und dennoch fließenden horizontalen Linien und weit heraustretenden Radhäusern ist für Amerika wie geschaffen, ja für dortige Verhältnisse geradezu grazil. In der Länge hat das Topmodell um drei, in der Breite um zweieinhalb Zentimeter zugelegt und minimal, nämlich drei Millimeter, an Höhe gewonnen. Passend also, dass die zweite Generation des extravaganten Fünftürers im Umfeld von Spartanburg zur Fahrpräsentation bereitstand. Zumal das Kompetenzzentrum für X Modelle als größtes Einzelwerk und einer der größten Produktionsstandorte der BMW Group vor wenigen Wochen sein 20jähriges Bestehen feierte. Zur amerikanischen Erfolgsgeschichte trägt die wachsende BMW X Modellfamilie wesentlich bei. So wird mit dem beschlossenen Bau des X7 als ultimativem Luxus SUV ein weiteres Mitglied zur Familie dazustoßen. Auch die X Familie feiert Geburtstag. Sie blickt auf eine bis dato 15jährige Laufzeit zurück, die seinerzeit mit dem Sports Activity Vehicle X5 begann.

Gesteigerte Dynamik, geringerer Verbrauch

Der Run auf das geräumige Allzweckauto X6, dessen Kofferraum um weitere 75 Liter auf 580 und 1525 Liter zugelegt hat, ist insbesondere in China und Amerika gewaltig.Zum weltweiten Verkaufsstart am 6. Dezember wird es zunächst drei Motorvarianten geben, einen Benziner und zwei Diesel, alle mit permanent aktivem Allradantrieb und serienmäßigem 8-Gang Steptronic Sport Getriebe mit Wippschalten. Die Motorenentwicklung ist und bleibt in Deutschland und im Falle der Diesel im BMW Motorenwerk Steyr in Oberösterreich.

Sleek silhouette of the X6.

Sleek silhouette of the X6.

Der Allrad-Benziner 50i, bei BMW xDrive genannt, punktet mit einem 450 PS starken V8-Zylinder (330 kW). Bis zu 22 Prozent weniger Verbrauch attestieren die Münchner dem Benziner. Als Einstiegsmodell bieten die Bayern den Reihensechszylinder-Diesel xDrive30d mit 258 PS (190kW) an, und so richtige Freude am Fahren kommt im drehmomentgewaltigen Reihensechszylinder mit drei Turboladern und 381 PS (280 kW) auf, dem X6 M50d. Den kombinierten Spritverbrauch der drei Modelle gibt BMW mit 9,7 bis 6,0 Liter auf 100 Kilometer an. Im Frühjahr 2015 kommen mit dem X6 xDrive35i ein kleinerer Benziner (306 PS/225 kW) und der Diesel xDrive40d (313PS/230 kW) hinzu.

Mehrzweckwaffe aus einem Guss

Sein Gewicht konnte der Athlet mit 2170 Kilogramm (xDrive50i) dank strikter Diät halten. Zum stabilen, ja um zehn bis 25 Kilogramm geringfügig geringeren Gewicht – bei deutlich umfangreicherer Serienausstattung wie Lederausstattung, Driving Assistant Sicherheitspaket oder BMW Connected Drive und gesteigerter Leistung – tragen Faktoren wie intelligenter Leichtbau und Gewichtsreduzierungen einzelner Komponenten bei. Beispielsweise bringt der xDrive mit seiner permanenten bedarfsgerechten Verteilung des Antriebsmomentes und weiter gesteigertem Wirkungsgrad jetzt 1,4 Kilogramm weniger auf die Waage.

Like all athletes, the X6 has also observed a strict diet.

Like all athletes, the X6 has observed a strict diet.

Preiswert oder gar billig ist die Fahrfreude freilich nicht. Das Einstiegsmodell 30d kostet 65.650 Euro. Fahrwerkspakete für Sportlichkeit (Dynamic) und Komfort nach Maß (Professional) sowie Zusatzwünsche in punkto noch luxuriöser gestaltetem Ambiente können die X Modelle die Schallmauer von 100.000 Euro spielend durchbrechen. Aber schließlich bevorzugt der heilige Nikolaus für seine Mission von jeher schnelle und große Schlitten.

Susanne Roeder