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Performance News - 4 July 2000

Mercedes Powerful Diesel Car Engine, Forty Years of Falcons, Limited Edition Honda Civic Sport, Satria GTi Fun, Quickies

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World's Most Powerful Diesel Car Engine

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Mercedes-Benz is to release in Europe next month the world's most powerful diesel car engine, the new S400 CDI - the first V8 diesel under the bonnet of a Mercedes passenger car. There are currently no plans for right-hand drive production (although the E-class E270 CDI turbo-diesel is on sale in Australia).

The eight cylinder is the result of several years' development in which equal importance was attached to the aspects of performance, torque, fuel consumption and environmental compatibility. Mercedes engineers have combined common rail injection and four-valves-per-cylinder technology with twin turbos, water-cooled intercooling, a new type of high-pressure pump and water-cooled exhaust gas recirculation with electrically operated intake-air throttle, to mention just a few of the highlights of this new eight-cylinder unit.

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The V8 engine of the S400 CDI is rated not only as the most powerful, but also as the most economical engine in its displacement and cylinder category. A fuel consumption of just 9.6 litres per 100km (NEDC overall consumption) enables it to cover the distance between Sydney and Melbourne, for example, without stopping to refuel. The exhaust emissions measured for the new V8 engine, moreover, are within the stringent exhaust limits of the European laws.

Thanks to its remarkable torque of 560 Newton metres, which is available from 1700 rpm and remains steady right up to 2600 rpm, the V8 engine has an astounding power development pattern: the sedan can spring from rest to 100 km/h in just 7.8 seconds and is capable of a maximum speed of 250 km/h. The flexibility of the newly developed V8 is even more impressive: the S400 CDI requires a mere 7.7 seconds to accelerate from 60 to 120 km/h in third gear, making it 1.4 seconds faster than the S430 (which is powered by a V8 petrol engine delivering 205 kW).

Mercedes engineers use common rail technology with an innovative inlet metered high-pressure injection pump and seven-hole injectors. The fuel is distributed by two separate rails which are controlled by a function module centrally located between the two cylinder banks. A sensor monitors the injection pressure, enabling the microcomputer of the V8 engine to compare these data with the stored parameters and adapt the fuel injection as required. The two turbochargers - one for each cylinder bank - are coupled to a water-cooled intercooler and play a key role in the CDI V8's impressive torque and power development. Turbos with variable nozzle turbines with electric adjustment of the guide vanes are used.

Apart from the two cylinder heads, Mercedes-Benz now also makes the entire crankcase from aluminium. The new V8 engine weighs in at just 245 kg. DaimlerChrysler produces the new V8 diesel engine at its Berlin-Marienfelde plant, where the company invested around $A25 million for this project.

Mercedes-Benz S 400 CDI Engine Specs:

No. / arrangement of cylinders V8, 4 valves per cylinder
Displacement cc 3996
Bore x stroke mm 86.0 x 86.0
Rated output kW 184 at 4000 rpm
Rated torque Nm 560 at 1700 - 2600 rpm
Compression ratio   18.5 : 1
Carburetion   Common rail direct injection, 2 exhaust gas turbochargers, electronic engine management

Ford Celebrates Forty Years of Falcons

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Six generations of Falcons gathered at Ford's Broadmeadows headquarters last week to mark the 40th anniversary of the legendary Aussie family car. On June 28, 1960, the first XK Falcon rolled off the production line at Broadmeadows, launching the longest continuous model line in Australian motoring history. Since then, Australians have bought more than 2.7 million Falcons.

Ford Australia President Geoff Polites told a special birthday celebration at the Broadmeadows Plant that the Falcon had a unique place in Australia's social history.

"Over the years, the Falcon has established itself as a brand name synonymous with Australian innovation in design and engineering," he said. "In a lot of ways, the car has reflected Australian culture and fashion over the past four decades. In the Sixties, the Falcon was all chrome and white wall tyres, while in the Seventies we had burnt orange soft top Falcon coupes to go with our flares and platform shoes. I think the present AUII Falcon reflects Australia's growing sophistication as we head into a new millennium," Mr Polites said.

Mr Polites said most Australians had a special memory of a Falcon.

"It might have been watching Moffat or Johnson thunder down Conrod Straight on the way to a Bathurst win, or flagging down a Falcon taxi in the pouring rain after a big night out," he said. He said the Falcon remained the only car wholly designed and manufactured in Australia. "The Ford design centre in Broadmeadows is the only place in Australia where you can look over the shoulder of a designer as he or she pens the very first strokes of a sketch that will eventually become a totally unique car. We are equally proud of the fact that the Falcon has the highest local content of any vehicle sold in Australia today," he said.

Falcon History

The initial decision to launch an Australian-built Ford was made in 1955, when it was decided that Ford Australia would build the Zephyr locally from the ground up, rather than simply assemble kits that arrived by ship from Dagenham in the United Kingdom. But in 1958, after a trip to the United States to view the Zephyr that was being redesigned for Australia, Ford Australia Managing Director Charles Smith, decided that the car was not right for the local market. He was then shown a mock-up of the Falcon that was being designed for the Canadian and American markets and decided that it was the car for Australia.

The Falcon made its debut with the XK in September 1960. At the time it was described as a "compact", as it was smaller than the popular US family cars of the period. The car and its successor, the XL, were based on a Canadian design, with some minor modifications for Australian conditions. With the launch of the XM in 1964, the Falcon had more serious claims to being a car designed and engineered by Australians for Australian conditions. Changes were made to the front and rear suspension, the braking system, clutch, rear axle, engine mounts and exhaust - all as a result of extensive research on the open road, the track and the dirt.

Ford Australia management went one step further with the launch of the XP Falcon in 1965. In an attempt to convince local fleet buyers of the robustness and durability of the Falcon, Deputy Managing Director Bill Bourke conceived the XP Durability Run. The bold scheme involved pushing five standard Falcons and a group of racing drivers to the limit around the demanding You Yangs Proving Ground. The goal was to clock 70,000 miles at an average speed per car of 70 miles per hour. Four of the five cars rolled, but after nine days driven at the limit, the five cars averaged a speed of 71.3 miles per hour. That same year, the Falcon was named Wheels Car of the Year.

The following year, the bigger, more powerful XR Falcon was launched with an entirely new shape. The new model incorporated more Australian design input than previous models and featured a V8 engine for the first time. The XR Falcon also was the first model to carry the legendary GT badge. The XT Falcon saw more powerful V8s, a synchromesh gearbox, dual circuit brakes and a choice of two automatic transmissions. It was followed by the XW and XY, remarkable for the eminently collectable GTHO Phase II and III.

In 1971, with the launch of the XA, the Falcon became a uniquely Australian car. There was no longer a US equivalent, the car was designed specifically for the local market. Three years earlier, local Ford designers travelled to the US and spent most of the summer of 1968 working on the Falcon clay model. The design impressed Detroit, which soon after gave the go-ahead for a design centre at Broadmeadows, Victoria.

With the XB and XC came four-wheel disc brakes, four-barrel carburettors and an all-time classic Falcon, the Cobra. The XC also brought a famous 1-2 victory for Allan Moffat and Colin Bond at Bathurst in 1977. The XD Falcon was the first to be designed in Australia from a clean piece of paper. Efficiency, interior space and weight reduction were the key elements of the new design. The car also featured a number of innovations, including a plastic fuel tank and plastic bumpers. Bucket seats were optional.

The following model, the XE, marked the introduction of electronic fuel injection and a Watts link coil-sprung rear-end. The car took Ford to number one in the market in 1982. The XF was notable for the introduction of Ford's engine management system, EEC-IV, which managed the spark timing and air-fuel mix of the engine more efficiently.

A new shape for Falcon came with the EA, which also boasted an all-new front suspension and geometry. The new suspension was more durable than previous systems. Other advances included a four-speed automatic transmission, the high-security Tibbe locking system and a more fuel-efficient engine. The EB and subsequent EB II offered handling improvements, the return of the V8 and ABS brakes for the first time on a mainstream Australian sedan. Security also was enhanced with the introduction of Smartlock. The final facelift for the EA shape came with the ED, which offered more modern exterior colours, better side-impact crash protection and a host of under-the-bonnet changes to continue the refinement of the car's handling.

August 1994 saw a new shape and an Australian Design Award for the EF Falcon in recognition of several engineering advances. The modified engine was smoother running, with improved torque and power and a new EEC-V engine management system developed through Formula One racing. A standard airbag, better ride and handling and significant safety advances completed the upgrade. The car also featured the world's first airbag-compatible bull-bar.

The final facelift before the AU, the $40 million EL program, brought further ride and handling improvements, latest generation ABS and an improved steering feel.

The $700 million AU Falcon saw the introduction of Computer Aided Design and Engineering, allowing for significant advances in chassis stiffness, aerodynamics and directional stability.

The AU program also saw the debut of a sophisticated double wishbone independent rear suspension and variable cam timing on prestige models. The AU was also the first car in its class to offer air-conditioning and automatic transmission as standard features. The recently-released AUII continued the Falcon tradition of innovation and value for money. When launched, it was the only car in its class to feature a standard passenger airbag, standard CD player, standard 16-inch wheels and 'Scheduled Servicing' to 60,000km included in the cost of the car.The AUII also features a new steel laminated firewall, designed to reduce noise in the cabin.

Limited Edition Civic Sport

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Honda Australia is offering $1490 worth of free accessories on the limited edition Civic Sport sedan. The bonus give-away includes 14-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and distinctive gold badging. The Civic Sport GLi manual sedan is available from all Honda dealerships until July 31 2000 at a recommended retail price of $24,950. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, central locking, driver and passenger airbags and four-wheel disc brakes.

Makinen's Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutionised For Rally Finland

In a joint effort to secure its fifth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title with reigning World Champion Tommi Makinen, Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Ralliart Europe have spent the last three months developing an evolutionary challenger that will make its debut on the Rally Finland (17-20 August), the ninth round of the series.

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution/Carisma GT has undergone a complete face-lift for Makinen's home event, and both regular drivers have spent the last eight days testing and honing the settings on typical Finnish roads around the rally's base in Jyvaskyla.

Developments are primarily based around a weight-saving programme, the target to reduce the overall weight by 25-30kg bringing the car as close as possible to the permitted 1230kg regulation. Significant improvements to the Lancer Evolution not only include completely new front suspension, but a move from a fabricated steel front cross-member to an all-new tubular construction to decrease weight as well as improve strength. New suspension links add to the all-round improved package.

The Lancer Evolution/Carisma GT also has new high-capacity front and centre differentials to improve traction, response, handling and stability. Technological advancements to the electronics include new software and hardware for the differential control units. No detail has been overlooked and even the weight of the wiring harness has been reduced. A redistribution of weight within the car, by moving components as low down between the wheels as possible, has also made significant improvements to the overall handling.

Cosmetically the car will also look different, the inclusion of a suitably adapted front bumper, based on the Tommi Makinen Special Edition, sharpening up the front end of the Lancer Evolution/Carisma GT.

"I feel very confident after the test," enthused Tommi. "This is exactly what we needed for the rest of the events this year and I am quite sure we have something special. We have more possibilities; the diffs, which are much stronger, and reduction in weight make the car much better to drive and the handling was excellent. The previous inconsistencies we sometimes had with the diffs have disappeared, they are now very reliable and we did about 1,200 kilometres with no problems at all. The new electronics make a big difference as well; the control unit's response time is much sharper and means the car reacts quicker and I can drive in a more committed manner."

"The test went very well because the car was always staying the same," added Freddy Loix. "In the past settings have changed, and maybe the diffs have been inconsistent or things have 'gone off'. But with the new components it was very good, the car is so much easier to drive and throughout the whole test I could easily stay on the same set-up. I am really looking forward to New Zealand now, which is a similar style of rally. It's just a shame we won't have the full new specification there because it is a big boost for me."

Satria GTi Fun

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Proving that age is no barrier to having fun, an 84 year young Melbourne man has recently become the proud owner of Australia's most popular hot hatch - Proton's Satria GTi. Harry Crew took delivery of his new Satria GTi from Melbourne dealer Empire Proton in Coburg almost 68 years after he first gained his licence to drive. According to Mr Crew, the Satria looked like a fun car and with Lotus handling and a three door hatch body it was more practical than his previous sports car for carrying his golf clubs. Born in England in 1916, Mr Crew's first car was a fabric-bodied Riley in the mid-1930s, the start of a long love affair with sporty cars he has owned - which have included Triumphs, Mini Coopers and Falcon GTs.

After GST the flagship Satria GTi reatils for $26,290 plus on road costs, a saving of $1700.


  • Honda Australia has teamed up with Australia's biggest family restaurant chain, McDonald's, in a new game to celebrate Walt Disney Pictures' new animated movie, Dinosaur. Beginning June 25, every McDonald's customer will have the chance to win one of four Honda Odysseys or four HR-Vs in the McDonald's McHatch, Match and Win promotion.
  • DaimlerChrysler is to acquire a 10% stake in Hyundai Motor Company for $A720 million. DaimlerChrysler, Hyundai Motor Co and Mitsubishi Motor Co will develop and produce a range of high quality small cars in key global markets
  • Post GST prices have pushed the price of Mazda's top selling sports car under the $40,000 'barrier.' The two seat MX-5 is now priced from $38,795, a reduction of $2,505, or 6.06 per cent.
  • Volvo Car Australia's all-new web site with the latest interactive technology and a new global web design went live this week.
  • Honda Motor Co will supply Honda Formula One engines to Jordan Grand Prix Ltd, as well as British American Racing (BAR), from next year. Jordan currently runs engines provided by Mugen, of which Honda is a major shareholder, while BAR has works Honda powerplants. From next season, Honda will supply identical works engines to both BAR and Jordan. Honda will continue to develop chassis technology with BAR, fulfilling one of the company's main objectives of its third F1 era.
  • Visit the AutoSpeed Shop now for the complete range of Haynes and Gregorys Repair Manuals, Howard's Race Brakes and the complete range of Apexi performance products.
  • The new Citroen GST range opens with the hot selling Citroen Berlingo at $16,399, making one of Australia's most capable small vans an even better deal.
  • BMW Australia has announced the price and specification of the soon to arrive X5 Sports Activity Vehicle. When it arrives on the Australian market in November of this year, it is said that the X5 will set new standards in 'all-road' vehicles for both its dynamic performance and the standard of specification for its price (for more information, see "BMW X5 Creates the Sports Activity Vehicle Standard").
  • Suzuki has announced a restructure of its automotive business operations in Australia. Company Director (Automotive) Hisashi Takeuchi will now head up the department from both a strategic and operation perspective, supported by newly-appointed National Operations Manager David Le Mottee.

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