Archive | July, 2010

Gordon Murray takes on the G-Wiz

21 Jul

So, Gordon Murray has built a city car. Now I realise that this is verging on old news. Murray has been working on this project for about 7 years now, and he released shots of the car, named the T25, to the press a few weeks ago. But, in my own manner, I like to digest things and see what I think of them. And I think it looks…..good. Well, let’s qualify that a little. The back end looks like one of those silly quad bike-engined cars that you see driving around rural France a lot. Or a G-Wiz. So that’s not so great, but then again it’s not a particular design feature, so we’ll forgive him. From the front though, I think it looks, in its own gorky way, excellent.

(Look how far I got into this article without mentioning the McLaren F1!) Murray is most noted, in road car terms, for having designed…..the Mclaren F1. Perhaps this explains the 3 seater layout of the car, with the driver thrust up to the front as some sort of fighter pilot-cum-chauffeur (quite a job description) whilst the passengers sit set back and either side of the driver’s seat. The door opens upwards and forwards, thus giving the passengers infinite room to get into their seat, rather than clambering into a tight space through a regular door. Murray has borrowed a 660cc engine from Mitsubishi, with 51bhp linked to a 5 speed sequential gear box. The car is light at just over half a ton, meaning that the T25 can do 74 miles per gallon whilst emitting only 86g/km of CO2. Which means that you won’t have to pay road tax. The car’s 0-62 time is quoted as 16.2 seconds, but if it’s a city car then it won’t really be doing 62mph. It will, however, be doing a lot of 0-30 mph accelerations, and with its light weight the T25 should be fine speed-wise (although there was talk of fitting a turbo….). And as for cornering, well, let’s just say it again, the guy designed the McLaren F1 and used to test the Formula 1 cars he designed himself, so I imagine it will be a hoot to hoon around a city in.

There’s one problem in all this though. Murray can’t afford to build the car himself and hasn’t had any manufacturers knocking on his door yet. Considering his contacts within the industry and his reputation, this is both a shame and worrying for the future of the T25. Obviously, little blogger-boy here doesn’t know the ins and outs, but I’d hope that someone would take this idea and run with it. It seems to me to be the perfect solution to city driving. City cars are generally a dull concept, focussed largely around compromise and dodgy design. But then you add Gordon Murray to the equation, and all of a sudden the idea sounds much more intriguing. Let’s see what happens.

The T25's pedigree.....

T25 pedigree, part two

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The Renaults that time forgot: the Vel Satis and the Avantime

17 Jul

Continuing on the Renault theme, today I thought I would tip my hat and raise a glass and say hip-hip-hooray to two of Renault’s forgotten heroes: the Vel Satis and the Avantime. What do those names mean? Well, Avantime in Franglais is, sort of, before time and Vel Satis is, so I’ve heard, the managing director of Renault Luxembourg’s favourite Vietnamese restaurant. Just kidding, who knows what the hell that means. As for the cars, from whence they came I know not. There were Renault, happily plodding along making Scenics and Lagunas and all of a sudden…..BAM! Here you go, have two strange-looking people carrier type cars. Except one is two-tone and only has three doors and the other’s a lofty MPV-cum-limo type thing. Very odd.

But they looked brilliant, the Avantime with its aforementioned 3 doors and slats in its headlights, the Vel Satis with its imperious grille and wedge shaped rear-end. People should have stood applauding Renault and instead, they chased after the Avantime and the Vel Satis with pitchforks and torches, hounding them into an automotive cave where they were left to depreciate alone. Bad news for them but not so bad for me, because whilst Carficionado is not a Wheeler Dealer type of blog, I don’t mind telling you that some of these cars look like quite tasty little second hand motors, lovely jubbly etc. My curious eye has passed over a few in my search for my new old car, and whilst they’re still slightly out of my budget,, I may consider doing a little stretch to get hold of something with so much class and exclusivity. Heading the list is the Vel Satis, both because it’s slightly more practical for what I have in mind and also because only about three Avantimes were ever sold in the UK and thus they are few and far between on the car market. I doubt whether a Vel Satis is an investment piece (well, who knows) but I think it would look most excellent sitting there waiting for me in the morning, ready to offer up its shrugging Gallic comfort on my morning commute. Je l’aime. And you should too. Renault, just so you know, I appreciated your being bold. Just a shame no-one else did.

It’s a Wind up…..geddit?

13 Jul

So, the other day, Carficionado here was having a little perambulate around the environs of Liverpool Street, and happened upon a new-fangled Renault Wind. Bit of an odd one this. A small coupe for 2 people, with a fold-down roof. Sounds fairly standard, but literally, the thing must share it’s floor plan with the Twingo it’s so small. The buggers at Renault should get Stuart Little to advertise it. I had a little peek inside and it looked very cosy, which I actually mean in a nice way, the kind of car that’s really pleasant to get into when you’re caught in the rain an have to run to your car.

Is it too girly for any self-respecting man to drive? Probably. Renault are only offering a turbo 1.2 and a 1.6 at the moment. But, were it to have a little going over from the RenaultSport peeps (and the Twingo got that, so why not?), it could actually be a fairly desirable little thing. Time will tell. All in all though, it looks to be a tidy package from Renault, demonstrating their small car werewithal that has led Mercedes to buddy up with the French car-maker in order to help the Stuttgartians build their city cars. Just a shame it’s named after a fart.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I have returned

8 Jul

So last week Carficionado spent a glorious time in the sunshine of Santorini, an island in Greece. Good for Carficionado’s skin tone and feta-cheese consumption rates, bad for his car spotting. In allegorical terms, Greece is the automotive equivalent of an obese person attending a Weight Watchers buffet – unsatisfying. Did I see anything of note? Here’s a list:

1) Two Yugos (designed by Giugiaro, no less). One was on a scrap heap though.

This picture amuses me

2) A canvas poster of an MG-ZR used as the canopy of a small fishing hut.Perhaps the best thing an MG-ZR has ever done

Umm. That’s about it.

Or is it?

No.

I also saw a rather delectable thing, much as it pains me to say it: an Opel GT. Based on the Pontiac Solstice or Saturn Sky (again, seriously America, names), I must say that it is very comely indeed. It’s powered by a 2.0 petrol with 257 bhp, so it should go OK, although as to cornering…..well, it might be a bit of Pontiac shall we say? Nevertheless, although I want to pour bleach onto my tongue every time I saw this….Vauxhalls and their immediate family are starting to look…..quite good. I don’t know how long it will take for Vauxhalls to not be a byword for ‘orrible little rep- and/or chavmobiles, but things are certainly looking up, in spite of GM’s major issues. Apparently there’s a bit of furore as to whether the GT will make it over here (and if it does, it may be left-hand drive only. Like a Lancia Delta Integrale!). But I personally think that it would be a welcome addition to our roads.

And I thought I wouldn’t see anything of note in Greece.

P.S. Here’s a little Yugoslavian joke for you, taught to me by my equally Yugoslavian girlfriend:

Why’s A Yugo called a Yugo?

Because it stays, you go!

Knock out stuff.