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Performance News - 23 May 2000

New Rex Intercooler, Kia Carens, High Strength Steels in New Pajero, Quickies

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New Rex Intercooler

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Air Power Systems is about to release a front-mount intercooler for the Impreza WRX. The intercooler has an area of 1440 cm2, compared with the 536 cm2 of the standard intercooler. It uses fully engineered cast aluminium trapezoidal end tanks to ensure optimum charge air distribution throughout the entire cooling core for maximum cooling and to minimize pressure drop. Smooth-bore moulded, reinforced silicon charge air hoses are provided. These are said to offer superior performance with regard to underbonnet heat soak than either steel or stainless steel tubing. Steel tubing is detrimental to power output in high performance intercooler applications as it acts as a heat sink and results in higher charge air temperatures.

The intercooler is available for: MY99 - MY00 WRX and STI 2 Door Version 5, STi 4 Door Version 6.


Kia Carens

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Six seats, but taking up road space of a small hatchback.

Prices set to start under $24,000.

Full specification includes AirCon, CD player, driver's airbag and power windows, mirrors and locks.

The Kia Carens will be launched in Australia on 1 July 2000 providing Australia with a six seat family-sized people mover under $24,000 for the first time.

Although the Kia Carens takes up no more road space than a small family hatchback - and therefore has the same levels of manoeuvrability and ease of driving - its 'tall body' design means that it offers six seats. The Kia Carens has equipment that includes a four speaker-equipped CD audio system, electric windows and mirrors, central locking, air conditioning, driver's side airbag and variable assistance power steering.

This class of car has been the major success story in the European car market in the last five years, showing staggering growth - up 54 per cent last year in a declining market - and it has overtaken the full size people mover market, one of the other major growth areas in Europe during the same period, in total sales. The Carens provides Australia with its first opportunity to buy this class of car.

The Kia Carens is powered by a twin cam 16 valve 1.8 litre engine offering 81 kW. It is matched to a five speed manual gearbox or an optional four speed electronically controlled automatic gearbox. Full prices and specification of the Carens will be announced when it goes on sale on 1 July 2000.

Electric Vehicle Road Rally

Chrysler's EPIC (Electric Powered Interurban Commuter) electric people mover is a competitor in this week's American Tour de Sol, and the progress of the vehicle in the annual road rally for electric and advanced technology vehicles can be tracked via the Internet.

One of the two EPICs in the New York-to-Washington event is equipped with an Air Link Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) modem and receiver, and its precise position along the route will be mapped in real time. The EPIC is one of the five vehicles in the event whose location will be constantly mapped and displayed on the Web site of the Tour organiser, the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) in Greenfield, Massachusetts. NESEA Web site can be located at

The site will also show current scores for each of the approximately 50 vehicles in the competition, ranging from vehicles produced by major manufacturers such as DaimlerChrysler to one-of-a-kind vehicles designed and built by high school and college students.

The five-day rally began in New York on Sunday, May 14, and ends at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 18.

The EPIC is the electric version of Chrysler's popular Voyager people mover. More than 200 EPICs are in use in California and New York State, including U.S. Postal Service offices and Xpress Shuttle at Los Angeles World Airport. The two EPICs are being driven in the Tour de Sol by students from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan.

High Strength Steels in New Pajero

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Mitsubishi Motors has used a new lightweight and high-strength steel sheet in chassis parts of its new NM Pajero. The steel has resulted in a significant weight reduction in chassis parts, and a consequent improvement in fuel consumption. The company developed the new 590MPa-grade high strength steel sheet (containing retained austenite) by working with Nippon Steel Corporation, Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd, and Kobe Steel Ltd.

Exploiting the outstanding formability and welded joint fatigue strength of retained austenite steel sheet, the sulphur and retained austenite content is controlled to give improved stretchability. This allows it to undergo stretch flanging in which high degrees of localised flexing and stretching are generated. Generally, the greater the tensile strength of the steel, the more it is possible to reduce weight by using thinner gauges of steel. However, steel sheet formability deteriorates with increasing tensile strength, as evidenced by cracking and splitting during the pressing process, and also softens by the heat effect during welding (which results in the fatigue of welded joints). This puts a limit on the strength of steel that can be used in forming parts, and to date most chassis sheet metal parts have been made using hot rolled steel sheet of between 370MPa and 400MPa-grade.

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The use of the new 590MPa-grade high strength steel sheet in some 80 chassis parts in the new NM Pajero has reduced the weight of the parts by some 13%, a total weight reduction of 14kg.

Mitsubishi intends to extend the use of the new chassis steel to more of its models.


  • For the nth time Jim Richards has won Targa Tassie, this time in a Porsche 911 GT3.
  • Yet another Ford historical snippet: When the XL Falcon was released in August 1962 it beat the US version by almost a month! This was, and possibly still is, the only time a new American model has been released by a subsidiary company before the local release. The Australian XL differed quite a bit from its US sister in that it has a convex version of the original XK grille fitted to the same front guards and bonnet as the previous XK model. It did, however, share the US model's new 'Thunderbird' roofline - a squared-off treatment at the rear window adding quite a sporty look to the sedan.
  • US company APE has new lower pricing on ATI-Procharger supercharger systems, including the new P-1SC self contained compressor. See the complete catalog and pricing at No oil lines! With this new compressor design you do not tap vehicles oiling system or run a oil return line to the pan. These units use a self contained oil reservoir that you fill with oil and change every 6,000 miles.
  • The Alfa Romeo 156 has gained the added safety of side air bags, as well as an advanced new Phillips-VDO six speaker CD audio system and a front centre armrest, as well as alloy wheels on the 156 Twin Spark, with just a $1000 increase, despite the declining value of the Australian dollar.

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