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One of the reason American carmakers are in trouble: engines

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by imageWIS, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    American cars are counter-intuititive and under-designed like Mac! Yes!

    LMAO: James attacking Mac...yet another sign that SF is back!

    Jon.
     
  2. montecristo#4

    montecristo#4 Well-Known Member

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    regarding what was said upthread about saab and GM and whatever else... saab's are not aimed at the market of the m5, or porsche 911... i've driven the 9-2, 9-3, and 9-5.. and the only one that performs like a performance car is the 9-2, which is a subaru impreza wrx wagon with a prettier front fascia.

    as for the 40-70 numbers.. all of the 911's on this list are faster than all of the saabs (including a porsche from 1973)

    http://www.car-videos.net/performanc...1=40&Speed2=70

    saab makes a fine sedan, but they don't challenge the m5 or 911 on any worthwhile performance metrics. although, if GM did a better job marketing the car, im sure it could be more successful.. just not as a luxo-sports car (m5) or sports car (911).. maybe as a midsized sedan.


    Top Gear did a segment on the 9-5 Aero where they raced it versus a Harrier -- yes the jet airplane. It was hilarious (the Harrier won). Here's what they said about the Aero's performance from 40-70:

    "And then there's the midrange clout. The rate this thing (the 9-5 Aero) goes in second gear from 40-70 MPH is just (laughing as he drives the car) sensational. For overtaking a lorry, not to mention a 5-series BMW, this will do it quicker than a Porsche 911 turbo. Stepping on the throttle in second gear gives you some idea of what it would be like to tread on a land mine."

    -- Top Gear
     
  3. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    Top Gear did a segment on the 9-5 Aero where they raced it versus a Harrier -- yes the jet airplane. It was hilarious (the Harrier won). Here's what they said about the Aero's performance from 40-70:

    "And then there's the midrange clout. The rate this thing (the 9-5 Aero) goes in second gear from 40-70 MPH is just (laughing as he drives the car) sensational. For overtaking a lorry, not to mention a 5-series BMW, this will do it quicker than a Porsche 911 turbo. Stepping on the throttle in second gear gives you some idea of what it would be like to tread on a land mine."

    -- Top Gear


    I rather have the 911 turbo, thanks.

    Or better yet, an Audi S4 (hell, for the price of a 911 Turbo you can have an RS4, pay for the insurance and gas for 4 years, and still have money leftover).

    Jon.
     
  4. montecristo#4

    montecristo#4 Well-Known Member

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    I rather have the 911 turbo, thanks.

    Or better yet, an Audi S4 (hell, for the price of a 911 Turbo you can have an RS4, pay for the insurance and gas for 4 years, and still have money leftover).

    Jon.


    Or instead of the S4 you can get the 9-5, plus five bespoke suits from the Row. Hmmmm.
     
  5. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    Or instead of the S4 you can get the 9-5, plus five bespoke suits from the Row. Hmmmm.

    I rather have the S4.

    Jon.
     
  6. SGladwell

    SGladwell Well-Known Member

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    Despite the weight distribution, I am convinced the 9-5 Aero handles quite a bit better than a last-gen base 5-series (530). This is largely due to more expensive suspension components and tires in the high end Aero model versus the base 530.

    Tires have a lot to do with it, then, but thinking your 9-5 handles better than a 5er* indicates more of a preference for the characteristics of FWD than anything else. Most car nut purists prefer RWD on everything, though I don't. I like RWD on sports cars, and FWD on sedans. I that is a product of the kinds of cars I grew up around, which were Triumph sports cars and Citroën GTs/sedans with the occasional Mercedes or Volvo estate thrown in. (The Cits were always way cooler than the Mercs or Volvos to me, though now I have an appreciation for the solidity of the W124 that I didn't at age 12.)

    Then again, I have a very dim view of so-called sports sedans anyway. Anyone who thinks a giant, 3000+ lb behemoth is supposed to have any handling characteristics beyond mush is simply deluding themselves or has not driven a car with truly great handling. (By "handling" I am referring to feel rather than raw numbers, because almost any type of car can have high skidpad and even slalom numbers. Great numbers without great communication is the worst kind of car.) The only truly good-handling sedans ever were the smallest ones, like the Alfa 1750GTV, Lotus Cortina, and BMW 2000/2002/320i. Because of the obesity of modern autos, few examples of great-handling moderns exist. Even BMW has left the building recently, at least with their eponymous cars. Cars such as the Elise, Mini, MX-5, S2000, and RX-8 are all that's left.

    *As an aside, the old 5 was better than the new one, with much more communicative steering, a nicer interior, and un-Bangled exterior styling. The new one has more advanced engines, which is a pity because everything else about them is a step back.
     
  7. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    Tires have a lot to do with it, then, but thinking your 9-5 handles better than a 5er* indicates more of a preference for the characteristics of FWD than anything else. Most car nut purists prefer RWD on everything, though I don't. I like RWD on sports cars, and FWD on sedans. I that is a product of the kinds of cars I grew up around, which were Triumph sports cars and Citroën GTs/sedans with the occasional Mercedes or Volvo estate thrown in. (The Cits were always way cooler than the Mercs or Volvos to me, though now I have an appreciation for the solidity of the W124 that I didn't at age 12.) Then again, I have a very dim view of so-called sports sedans anyway. Anyone who thinks a giant, 3000+ lb behemoth is supposed to have any handling characteristics beyond mush is simply deluding themselves or has not driven a car with truly great handling. (By "handling" I am referring to feel rather than raw numbers, because almost any type of car can have high skidpad and even slalom numbers. Great numbers without great communication is the worst kind of car.) The only truly good-handling sedans ever were the smallest ones, like the Alfa 1750GTV, Lotus Cortina, and BMW 2000/2002/320i. Because of the obesity of modern autos, few examples of great-handling moderns exist. Even BMW has left the building recently, at least with their eponymous cars. Cars such as the Elise, Mini, MX-5, S2000, and RX-8 are all that's left. *As an aside, the old 5 was better than the new one, with much more communicative steering, a nicer interior, and un-Bangled exterior styling. The new one has more advanced engines, which is a pity because everything else about them is a step back.
    Yeah, the cockpits of the newer BMW’s (Bangle) suck monkey’s balls. Whereas the old ones were curved towards the driver, to facilitate the driver, the new ones are basically flush and have some less than easy to reach controls and accessories (flimsy cup holders, although a real German car shouldn’t have cup holders anyways!) also, the interior quality has gone down, even at the top end. Take a look at the interior of an A8 4.2 and see how vastly better made it is than the interior of a 750Li. I think the size limit for ‘sports sedans’ has to be around the size of the S4 / RS4 (and I guess the upcoming M3, if they decide to make it as a sedan / saloon), anything bigger is just too big, and you end up getting quotes from Jeremy Clarkson like: “this is what a Cathedral going sideways looks like” when describing the Bentley Arnage T going sideways after he turned the traction control off. The only thing that might truly bring redemption to BMW is the forthcoming 1-Series sedan / saloon, which in M or M-Sport mode (most likely a model-moniker reading: 130i or 135i). It should be small enough to actually become the true spiritual successor to the 3-Series. Jon.
     
  8. A Y

    A Y Well-Known Member

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    The M Z4 Coupe will be a blast when that comes out. Hopefully it will hang around long enough for them to put the E90 M3's V8 in it. It's currently using the E46 M3's S54.

    --Andre
     
  9. SGladwell

    SGladwell Well-Known Member

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    think the size limit for "˜sports sedans' has to be around the size of the S4 / RS4

    Size-wise, maybe. Bulk-wise, at around two tons they've both left the building long, long ago. My experience with the S4 (admittedly, the old biturbo one, not the new V8 one) is that it while it can cover ground as well as anything from anyone, it's too ponderous (especially on initial turn-in) to be any fun. I'd rather drive an Impreza, personally, though its steering leaves something to be desired as well. Or just give up on this silly fiction of the "sports sedan" entirely.

    The only thing that might truly bring redemption to BMW is the forthcoming 1-Series sedan / saloon, which in M or M-Sport mode (most likely a model-moniker reading: 130i or 135i). It should be small enough to actually become the true spiritual successor to the 3-Series.

    The 1er is in its way every bit as stupid as the Solstice. It's a four (or five!) door two seater, for God's sake! There is no possible way to fit 4 people sized 5'5" or greater into that thing. A Fiat Panda is a more practical car, and probably more fun to drive, too.
     
  10. briancl

    briancl Well-Known Member

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    Size-wise, maybe. Bulk-wise, at around two tons they've both left the building long, long ago. My experience with the S4 (admittedly, the old biturbo one, not the new V8 one) is that it while it can cover ground as well as anything from anyone, it's too ponderous (especially on initial turn-in) to be any fun. I'd rather drive an Impreza, personally, though its steering leaves something to be desired as well. Or just give up on this silly fiction of the "sports sedan" entirely.
    i agree to a large extent; however, in today's car market, there is a viable segment of "sports sedans" whereas there might not have been such a market 20-25 years ago. some people do want the creature comforts (AC, nice stereo, 4+ airbags, power steering, nav, dual climate control, etc) as well as performance. in all honesty, its hard to put all of these things in a car, build it to meet safety and environmental regulation, and be able to sell it... car mfgs do their best. the rs4 is a step in exactly the right direction. it might cost a lot, however, we are starting to see sedans with room for 4 (or 5) and 4 doors and a good sized truck with all of the features a 35k+ car should have (i realize the rs4 is upwards of 70 or 80), yet still be an absolute blast to drive on the track or on the way to the grocery store. if audi skimped on the luxury items, they would hurt their image as a luxury brand. if they wimped out on the performance, people would say its just another bloated s4 (what a shame that car has gotten so piggish). then there is the elise/exige side of things.. which is another good direction. of course, lotus intentionally left out a lot of luxury to keep weight down, but no one would ever buy one as their daily driver. they are weekend cars or track cars.. the sports sedan is a growing market and im glad to see it evolving. im on my second sports sedan, and this is the market for me for a very long time. i would be sad to think what i have now is as good as it gets...
    not that i like the solstice, but how is a 4 or 5 door car every bit as stupid as a 2 door roadster? and the sky redline is actually a pretty slick car. if i needed a second car, i wouldnt mind having that in the garage.
     
  11. SGladwell

    SGladwell Well-Known Member

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    i agree to a large extent; however, in today's car market, there is a viable segment of "sports sedans" whereas there might not have been such a market 20-25 years ago.
    Actually, 25-30 years ago there were actually some cars that could be considered both "sports" and "sedan". I am referring to such enduring greats as the Alfa 1750GTV, Lotus Cortina, and BMW 2002. Now we have just overweight, stupidly fast sensory deprivation chambers that marketers affix with the label "sport".
    yet still be an absolute blast to drive on the track or on the way to the grocery store.
    Doubtful. Though I've never driven a bloated pig like the RS4 on a track, there's just no way to make a car be fun at 30mph and stable at 180mph. To be the latter it must be dulled at low speeds, because otherwise the merest flick of the wrist will send the car off the road at its top speed. So cars with lower limits, somewhat counterintuitively perhaps, are usually far more fun to drive. That's one reason why, as BrianSD noted and I concur, some of the most fun you can have on the road is in a Miata.
    of course, lotus intentionally left out a lot of luxury to keep weight down, but no one would ever buy one as their daily driver. they are weekend cars or track cars..
    I'm a bit puzzled by your luxury comment. Besides navigation, which you can get in an aftermarket single-DIN head unit now, what does the Elise lack? It has a 6-speaker (I think) stereo that uses standard-sized components an audiophile can rip out and discard. It has A/C, though only one-zone. It has ABS. In short, it has every luxury appropriate for a sports car. It does not have stupid and heavy things like Mercedes' "air scarf," but it's a long way from the purity (and, admittedly, impracticality) of a Lotus/Caterham Seven or an Ariel Atom. I may just buy the third-generation (2nd generation Federalized one) one as a daily driver, when it comes out. After all, it has over double the cargo space of a Solstice, despite weighing about 1000lbs less and getting about 10mpg better fuel economy. (Not to mention blowing the doors of the Solstice in any situation imaginable.) What scared me away from the Federal Elise are its lack of compliant bumpers and even more than that the problems someone of my height has with ingress/egress with the hard or soft top on. Though truth be told had one been immediately available when I bought my Mini I may have gone Elise anyway. What better thing to do every day than drive a car that's alive!
    not that i like the solstice, but how is a 4 or 5 door car every bit as stupid as a 2 door roadster?
    Do you think a 4-door de facto 2-seater makes sense? With even a small person up front, the kneeroom in back shri nks to 3-4 inches! That is simply, IMO, bad design. Just like the Solstice/Sky 's fat ass that can't hold any cargo and its trunk that opens from the wrong end.
     
  12. Kai

    Kai Well-Known Member

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    Doubtful. Though I've never driven a bloated pig like the RS4 on a track, there's just no way to make a car be fun at 30mph and stable at 180mph. To be the latter it must be dulled at low speeds, because otherwise the merest flick of the wrist will send the car off the road at its top speed. So cars with lower limits, somewhat counterintuitively perhaps, are usually far more fun to drive. That's one reason why, as BrianSD noted and I concur, some of the most fun you can have on the road is in a Miata.


    My Viper is fun (and very responsive) at 30mph and stable at 180mph, but I guess there are exceptions to every rule.
     
  13. briancl

    briancl Well-Known Member

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    Doubtful. Though I've never driven a bloated pig like the RS4 on a track, there's just no way to make a car be fun at 30mph and stable at 180mph.

    first of all, 180mph at anything but an oval is pretty hard to come by. and i hope you don't think of ovals when i say track. i mean road courses. and if you hopped in an rs4 and drove it around a road course, you would have fun. if you drove around town to pick up the kids or go to the bookstore, you'd also enjoy the drive. yes it is heavier than an elise, but it also has more to offer.

    you dont flick your wrist when you race. smooth in, smooth out.

    the miata is a fine car. and your notion of it being easy to drive a slow car fast is exactly right.. no doubt. but two seaters aren't for everyone. i need a sedan, i don't have room in my garage for a second car, and therefore i don't have room for a two seater.. so i have already submitted to having a car heaver than 3000 pounds. i also need awd for the winters up here in michigan. i'm fortunate to have a few cars to choose from that meets all of my requirements (safe, fun, awd, 4 doors, plenty of space, and finally.. trackable with a handfull of basic mods). im also happy to see this pool of cars increasing.

    dont get me wrong, i love the exige (convertables are not my thing, so the elise isnt on my list), however, it is a very non-compliant kind of car. lots of noises and creaks and bumps and such. i love a night taut suspension as much as the next guy, but there are limits. i need a car that i can not only race, but that i can take on a 5 hour car trip to toronto or chicago for the weekend.. that i can also haul some stuff home in should i decide to buy something larger than a breadbox.


    i agree.

    if i had my choice.. id have a lotus exige S to take to the track on weekends and an rs4 in my garage for road trips and daily driving. unfortunately i dont have those kinds of funds (or a big enough garage!), so i settle for my subaru sti... satisfies all of my needs.
     
  14. SGladwell

    SGladwell Well-Known Member

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    My Viper is fun (and very responsive) at 30mph and stable at 180mph, but I guess there are exceptions to every rule.

    What year is it? The only Viper I've driven was back when they still had side pipes and looked less like Corvettes. While obviously it went like stink in a straight line, it felt heavy, plodding, and very reluctant to change direction at street speeds. The steering didn't tell me anything except where the cracks in the pavement were, the feel of the shifter was truck-like (as was the engine note), and the brake pedal had roughly the feel of a Citroën's brake button. Maybe newer ones drive more like cars than trucks, but the only fun thing about that Viper was dodging the leaks from its poorly conceived top in the rain.

    I never took it fast enough to see what the big deal was. Unless you count the heads spinning, but if I'm going to make heads spin for sitting in the shaft of a virtual penis I'd just as soon it be an E-Type dhc with a 3.8 and triple SU's.
     
  15. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    You could get an RS4 and replace all the panels and extensive interior trim with carbon fiber, but then questions arise: how much creature comforts are you willing to lose? And are you willing to spend close to $250,000 on a one-off, customized sedan just to save weight?

    Also, the RS4 already uses a few tricks to lose weight, for example by removing the rear electric window controls and using old-fashion window cranks. It might not seem like much, but every little thing helps.

    Jon.
     
  16. SGladwell

    SGladwell Well-Known Member

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    the miata is a fine car. and your notion of it being easy to drive a slow car fast is exactly right.. no doubt.

    Not quite. It is easier to drive a slow car at the edge of its limits than it is to drive a fast car at the edge of its limits. However, it is much more challenging to drive a slow car to the edge of its limits than to drive a fast car at the same rates that are the limits for the slow car. In the slower car, you're opposite locking and trail braking and doing whatever you can to keep as much speed as possible through the turns. To keep up in the fast car, you're just going through the motions, maybe fiddling with the radio or using the computer to tell the climate control you want the cabin to be 1/4 degree cooler in the process. In other words, if you define fun as I do - as driver involvement - it is more challenging/fun to drive a well-honed car with limits that are closer to speeds that one actually drives than it is to drive a car with limits well above what one would ever use. It's about feel. Unburdened by the need to be stable at extremely illegal speeds, the designers are free to allow that feeling of oneness between car and driver at all speeds.

    True story: one spring break as an undergrad, a friend and took a trip to drive the Gap as many times as possible. We took my 1993 Miata (stock except for tires and cold-air intake) and his nearly new E36 M3. He was crestfallen after his first run in my car. I remember changing the CD during my first run in his car, but not much else. Over that summer, he took a huge financial hit by selling his E36 M3 for a real M3: the E30 with the semi-trailing arm rear suspension that'll actually do something, fender blisters, rear wing, and that awesome, awesome 4-pot. Everything after that car to wear the "M" has been a poseur.

    i need a sedan, i don't have room in my garage for a second car, and therefore i don't have room for a two seater

    I think Americans often miscalibrate what their automotive "needs" are. There are plenty of families with children in Europe and elsewhere that get by just fine with cars as small as Fiat Pandas or VW Twingos. Single people or DINKs really don't "need" anything bigger than a Twingo, Smart, or for that matter a vintage Spridget/Spitfire/Elan. The only things sold recently in America that is probably impractical for most people are the Solstice and MR2 Spider.

    As for hauling stuff, that's why there's home delivery, or why Home Depot and Ikea rent trucks on the premises. For every day chores such as heading to the grocery store or to NM Last Call, the 4-6 cubic feet of trunk space provided by cars like the Elise, Miata, and topless Mini is more than adequate. Also, people in extreme northern climes did just fine with front engine/RWD for quite a while, in the era before computerized traction control even, so I'm not sure AWD is a "need".

    dont get me wrong, i love the exige (convertables are not my thing, so the elise isnt on my list), however, it is a very non-compliant kind of car. lots of noises and creaks and bumps and such. i love a night taut suspension as much as the next guy, but there are limits. i need a car that i can not only race, but that i can take on a 5 hour car trip to toronto or chicago for the weekend.. that i can also haul some stuff home in should i decide to buy something larger than a breadbox.

    I get that the Elise is noisy, though it is slightly less so if you cover up the gorgeous aluminum floorboards with their carpet kit. However, I don't get what you mean by non-compliant in terms of the suspension. The two (European-market) Elises I've driven have had pretty compliant suspensions, following Colin Chapman's time-honored dictum of soft springs with hard dampers. It is certainly more compliant than, say, a Civic Type-R's. It's the Japanese and Americans who equate kidney-punishing with good handling. The British, French, Italians, and to a lesser extent the Germans have always understood that good handling is not punishing to the driver. Admittedly, I've never driven a Federal Elise. It is quite possible that Lotus retuned the FE's suspension into a kidney-puncher to account for ignorance in this marketplace.

    unfortunately i dont have those kinds of funds (or a big enough garage!), so i settle for my subaru sti... satisfies all of my needs.

    I think if you drove an RS4 and your STi back to back on a challenging road, the only thing you'd like better about the experience of driving the Audi is interacting with VW's trademark interior.
     
  17. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    The 1er is in its way every bit as stupid as the Solstice. It's a four (or five!) door two seater, for God's sake! There is no possible way to fit 4 people sized 5'5" or greater into that thing. A Fiat Panda is a more practical car, and probably more fun to drive, too.


    The current 5-door 1er is atrocious when it comes to interior rear room, but they are bring the car to the US in sedan and coupe form and I bet you it will have enough room in the rear for 2 adults to sit, although probably not for long trips.

    Jon.
     
  18. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    The M Z4 Coupe will be a blast when that comes out. Hopefully it will hang around long enough for them to put the E90 M3's V8 in it. It's currently using the E46 M3's S54.

    --Andre


    The Z4 coupe looks fantastic, the whole look is very "˜classic British coupe' in design, but with a modern, Germanic, um, American spin.

    Jon.
     
  19. rdawson808

    rdawson808 Well-Known Member

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    I think Americans often miscalibrate what their automotive "needs" are. There are plenty of families with children in Europe and elsewhere that get by just fine with cars as small as Fiat Pandas or VW Twingos. Single people or DINKs really don't "need" anything bigger than a Twingo, Smart, or for that matter a vintage Spridget/Spitfire/Elan.

    I could not disagree with this more (at least that part about DINKs). I drive a sedan and it often times has only me and my gf in it and the backseat full of groceries. Now that could be done in a coupe. However, having a two-seater completely negates the possibility of ever having three people in the car. That means I cannot drive friends around, I cannot realistically car-pool, I cannot transport virtually anything larger than the groceries, and I will forever be the one saying "sorry my car only seats two." In this regard, I do need a sedan that seats four.

    [Whether a family with kids needs a behemouth SUV is another matter in my mind...]


    bob
     
  20. tiger02

    tiger02 Well-Known Member

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    I will forever be the one saying "sorry my car only seats two."
    Bob, the way I play it is, "Hey baby, my car seats two. Care for a ride?" [​IMG]
     

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