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November 2015

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder @ Autobau

Swabian rocket science

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

The second car of Autobau I want to show you is the Porsche 918 Spyder. A supercar like the prancing horse I reported about earlier. Unlike the Ferrari LaFerrari supercar this is a Porsche, a seriously engineered piece of German craftsmanship. The 918 Spyder is taking the reigns of the Carrera GT. After its discontinuation in 2007, Porsche supercar aficionados had to wait six years before the production version of the latest iteration was presented at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show.

Outside

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

Unsurprisingly, the 918 is instantly recognizable as a Porsche. The front part actually looks very similar to the famous 1970’s 917 race car of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Even though every brand has their own trade marks, their own visual styling queues, the Weissach supercar shares the same type of architecture as the LaFerrari; a carbon fiber monocoque. Yes, there is a front splitter on either side, big air intakes in the front, following air outlets just behind the front wheels. And yes, there is a big rear spoiler and a rear diffusor to keep the massive 21″ Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 wheels on the tarmac, but it doesn’t look as wild as a Pagani or as brutal as a Noble. Long story short, just as in traditional Porsche fashion, the attention to details they have given to it, make the functionality and efficiency look gorgeous.

Under the skin

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

The 4.6 litre V8 engine mounted between the seats and the rear axle produces 608 hp and 528 Nm of torque. Being a hybrid, it’s completed with a 125 hp electric motor in the front, as well as a 154 hp electric motor in the back. The latter one is coupled to the V8, giving it a total of 887 hp. Porsche claims it can do 0 – 100 km/h in just 2.6 s and reach a top speed of 345 km/h – just a little bit slower than the Ferrari LaFerrari. But than bear in mind that it shows 1’634 kg on the scales. For those of you who are interested in finding out which is faster, why don’t you take a look on what the illustrious Chris Harris has to say about them.

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

The transmission is a seven speed dual-clutch item, or as Porsche say: PDK, meaning Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (Porsche double clutch transmission). 🙂 The battery that powers the two electric motors is a 6.8 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery installed behind the cockpit. As you can see in the picture above, it is a plug-in hybrid, but the batteries are also charged by regenerative braking or of course by the V8 engine itself. What makes the 918 Spyder special is the fact that it can run on electric power only. This distinguishes it from the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) that regenerates just as well but only stores the electricity to assist the gasoline powered engine when it needs that extra boost.

Inside the cockpit

In a supercar I think it’s save to say that the cabin is not just a cabin but a cockpit, a place where every detail has been thought trough to make the driving experience as precise and thrilling as it can be. The 918 Spyder is no exception on that matter. Believe or not, the most important feature of this car is the little switch positioned on the steering wheel, allowing the driver, or shall I say pilot, to switch between four different driving modes that radically transform the car’s personality:

  1. E-Power: This is the default mode of the car upon firing it up. When fully charged, it can drive up to 31 km on electric power only and reach a top speed of 150 km/h. The gasoline powered V8 only kicks in when needed.
  2. Hybrid: In this mode the car uses both, gasoline engine and electric motors to drive as fuel efficiently as possible.
  3. Sport-Hybrid: In the sport mode, the gasoline engine is always on. The electric motors are only punctually used to give the car some extra boost.
  4. Race-Hybrid: This is basically a more performance oriented mode of the sport-hybrid mode: More boost, the batteries are charged faster and the gear changes are quicker.

That’s the ticket

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

What about the price? 847’000 $. Sure, a lot of green bills, but still a lot less than the Ferrari LaFerrari (I daren’t use the word cheap^^), but then Porsche also made a total of 918 of them and by December 2014 every single one of them was sold out.

2014 Ferrari LaFerrari @ Autobau

Supercar pickup

2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

Let’s start the Autobau tour with the Ferrari LaFerrari. Many have found it odd to repeat the brand name in the model name and wondered why they didn’t actually name after its project name, the F150. Well, they couldn’t officially name it F150 because Ford has the name rights for that – ever heard of the F150 Pickup truck?! 😉 Anyway, it’s the latest hypercar to come out of Maranello’s factory and replaces the legendary Enzo.

Outside

This exact one is all red as you can see, as opposed to some press cars that have a black roof – classic Ferrari. There are massive air intakes in the front and gills in the hood to give it better downforce. In fact the whole car looks like it’s been shaped by the wind – which it certainly has – in the wind tunnel. The rear view mirrors are pretty far up and away from the side windows, but then the windows are more in the core of the car, instead of being part of the lateral edge.

Under the skin

6.3 litre V12 engine, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
6.3 litre V12 engine, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

The engine is a mid-rear mounted Ferrari V12 with a 6.3 litre displacement producing 800 hp and 700 Nm of torque. Combined with the 163 hp electric motor it reaches a maximum power of 963 hp! Thanks to the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) it manages to store electric energy under braking and storing it in batteries so that it can be used for acceleration. It is the first hybrid Ferrari. You get extra torque while boosting out of a corner and have the power of the engine as it’s revved up.

Charge plug, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
Charge plug, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

The rear-wheel drive prancing horse goes from 0-100 km/h in under 3 s, 0-200 km/h in under 7 s, 0-300 km/h in under 15 s and reaches its top speed at over 350 km/h (186 mph). So there we have a car that has a seven speed dual-clutch transmission and is just 37 hp shy of a 1’000 hp! That is not just impressive when you put it into relation with its 1’365 kg dry weight. This is impressive full stop.

Brembo carbon brakes, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
Brembo carbon brakes, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

All that make the LaFerrari go like hell! But as Pirelli’s famous slogan stipulates: “power is nothing without control”, the LaFerrari too needs an adaptive rear diffusor that goes up when you hit the carbon brakes before cornering and goes down again upon acceleration in order to constantly have the best grip on the road. I haven’t even mentioned the automatic rear spoiler to further increase the handling performance. In classic Ferrari style, the trunk is made of glass so you can admire the potent and beautiful V12 engine. If you take a close look at the upper right side, you can see a typical 21st century technology item: a charge plug for the hybrid system.

  Inside the cockpit

Monocoque, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
Monocoque, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

Inside, well, being part of a private collection it is locked, so there is no way they’d let me in. But I can say this: There are no conventional seats. The driver and the passenger sit directly on the floor itself. In other words, Ferrari just stuck a few pads onto the carbon fiber monocoque and named the result “seats”. Since they cannot be adjusted, the pedal box and steering wheel positions can in order to have an optimal driving position. Most of the inside is made of carbon and the steering wheel is square, which somehow makes it special and more Formula One-like.

That’s the ticket

Price: 1.69 million $ and you have to have owned several other Ferraris before just to be allowed to purchase one. Ferrari made 499 of them. Why did they stop at 499? As Enzo Ferrari used to say: “Always sell one car less than the market demands and maintain the value”. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Exhaust pipes & rear diffusor, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
Exhaust pipes & rear diffusor, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

Autobau Erlebniswelt Romanshorn – Part 1: Introduction

From alcohol to fuel

Autobau Erlebniswelt, Romanshorn, Switzerland
Autobau Erlebniswelt, Romanshorn, Switzerland

The brick buildings in which “Autobau” is located today belonged originally to the Federal Alcohol Administration in Romanshorn, Switzerland. In 1996, the Federation lost the exclusive right and a couple of years later the buildings were assigned to the town of Romanshorn. Fredy Lienhard, a Swiss entrepreneur as well as race car driver bought the landmarked buildings in 2007 and transformed them into this huge garage and event facility it has been since 2009. As a matter of fact, the 30’000 m2 area not only offers the exhilarating presence of around 85 cars, there is also a huge repair shop called “Factory” and a small circuit. Private events on the premises can also be booked, given the fact that Autobau offers a complete catering team in order to meet any need.

It cost the creators 12 million Swiss Francs (CHF) to renovate and transform the building to what it is today. The German word “Erlebniswelt” effectively means “a world to experience”. The building itself accentuates to the distinctive character of the whole experience: its history, the shape and materials (bricks and glass). Inside it’s even better; nice clean columns, track road imitations, model cars embedded in display windows in the floor, etc.

Porsche 550 Spyde scultpure, Autobau Erlebniswelt, Romanshorn, Switzerland
Porsche 550 Spyder scultpure, Autobau Erlebniswelt, Romanshorn, Switzerland
Porsche 550 Spyder scultpure, Autobau Erlebniswelt, Romanshorn, Switzerland
Porsche 550 Spyder scultpure, Autobau Erlebniswelt, Romanshorn, Switzerland

An entire team at your service

In total, there are seven guides available to answer any question regarding the museum and the cars. Others take care of the cars when the collection is not open to the public. In addition to them, an event manager makes sure the venue is booked regularly. I was talking to one of the guides, and he said that Autobau is more of a rolling private collection than a museum. All of the cars are in mint condition; running and road legal – with the exception of the race cars, obviously.

A hidden jewel

This collection might not be as big and as prestigious as Jay Leno’s. But that’s like saying the view from the Empire State Building is not as spectucal as from One World Trade Center. The collection is jaw dropping and unique in its whole. Furthermore, the fact that the public can access it on Wednesdays and Sundays from 4 to 8 PM for an entrance fee of 15.- CHF is just amazing. The cars are not protected in anyway. Obviously, there are a few surveillance cameras. But there you have a private collection worth millions of francs or euros or dollars (whichever you prefer) and anyone is allowed to enter, get close to the cars, touch them and even open a few of them! In a time where respect and civic engagement are about as rare as rain in Los Angeles, who else in their right mind would do that these days?! And yet here it is, ready for everybody to enjoy it! Kudos to Autobau for giving the gearheads some food.

European Cars, Autobau Erlebniswelt, Romanshorn, Switzerland
European Cars, Autobau Erlebniswelt, Romanshorn, Switzerland

The collection is segmented in three areas: European Supercars and Classic Cars (with a strong emphasis on Ferrari and Porsche) in the left wing of the building, Americana and British cars on the lower right wing, as well as race cars on the upper right wing.

2015 Peugeot 308 GTI & 2015 RCZ R Swiss Racing – 2015 Zurich Auto Show

Hitting the rev limiter

2015 Peugeot 308 GTI steering wheel
2015 Peugeot 308 GTI steering wheel

Peugeot is being serious about continuing and improving their sports models. After the 208 GTI, it’s time for the 308 GTI to put its wheels (19”) on the tarmac. Since the launch of the second generation 308 in September 2013, Peugeot has developed an entire 308 family, as well as improved it every year: three cylinder PureTech gasoline engines, new BlueHDI diesel engines, as well as a new six speed automatic transmission.

Until the beginning of this year, the range topping and most sporty 308 was the GT version with the 1.6l THP gasoline engine with 205 hp. This year, Peugeot has finally done to the 308 what they did to the little brother two years ago: a GTI version which gets the same 1.6l engine block, with the small difference that it now delivers 270 hp (identical to the one in the RCZ R). That sounds like music to my ears!

On 17 March 2015, Peugeot announced its brand mission as follows: “Peugeot is focusing all of its energy and resources into creating innovative mobility solutions, not only for today but for tomorrow, built around one core philosophy: the search for emotion.” Obviously, just seeing the car at an auto show doesn’t allow me to verify whether it actually delivers the emotions Peugeot wants me to feel. Nevertheless, I can still see it, touch it, feel it and know what makes it going like a proper lion!

Let’s start with the outside, shall we! There are GTI badges on the front fenders and in the back, bigger air intakes in the front and the Peugeot Lion logo is integrated in the front grill rather than having it on the hood, a design feature Peugeot introduced with the GT version in order to differentiate the sportier versions from the more mundane editions. Besides, the grill has a bespoke checkered flag design which refers to the sporting ambitions of the car.

2015 Peugeot 308 GTI
2015 Peugeot 308 GTI

Under the doors we notice the side flaps, which gives it a muscular stance. 19” wheels come standard, behind which boast red brake calipers with 4 pistons, ready to slow down 380 mm discs in the front, as well as 268 mm ones in the back. The suspension has been fine tuned to match the GTI’s power and brake performances. In the back we find a diffuser and a pair of pretty big exhaust pipes, similar to those on the RCZ R. But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to the sports wheels and chassis comes the Torsen differential that makes sure all of the 270 horses find their way from the stables to the road! Excellent!

Inside, it’s a spiced up version of the already really elegant and upmarket 308 GT. On the menu, we find bucket seats made out of leather, cloth and alcantara. Notice that the headrests’ shape are designed to look like they are fully integrated into the seat, but you can actually lift them up in order to adapt them to your height. In order to further distinguish the GTI from the other 308 versions, the stitches on the dashboard and around the cabin are accented in red, the steering wheel gets a GTI badge on the bottom and a red mark at the twelve o’clock position, “PEUGEOT Sport” and “GTI” lettering on the door sill panels, as well as an aluminum gear knob, pedals and foot rest.

The RCZ’ last hurrah

Road test reviews have praised the 308 GTI’s for its built quality, practicality and last but not least, sporting credentials. With that established, the 308 family appears to offer the full range from frugal and functional to the full on Nürburgring lap time chaser. However, being a big fan of the RCZ, I was pretty disappointed when Peugeot communicated that they were abandoning their plans to build a second generation, due to their restructuring plans and strategy called “Back in the Race”. Since the outgoing model was based on the previous generation 308, I can only imagine what a performance car a new RCZ generation would have been. Nonetheless, I’d still like to see what this 308 GTI could look like with a coupe silhouette…

2015 Peugeot RCZ R Swiss Racing
2015 Peugeot RCZ R Swiss Racing

Given the fact that the RCZ’s production has stopped in September, RCZ aficionados will have to make due with the couple of remaining new 200 THP GT Line and RCZ R standing in the showrooms or simply get a used one. At the 2015 Zurich Auto Show, Peugeot presented a special “Swiss Racing” version of the RCZ R. Technically identical to a standard RCZ R, the already leather wrapped interior as standard now features many elements covered in dark grey and red alcantara, such as the inner part of the door panels, the parking brake and the steering wheel. The arm rest cover is still leather but features a special insert marking the number of the limited edition, as well as the full vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car.

DS Automobiles – 2015 Zurich Auto Show

DS Automobiles – Making due with what they have

2015 DS 4
2015 DS 4

I know DS is probably not yet the most exiting car brand, but ever since PSA decided to make DS a standalone premium brand in June 2014, I have been following their development with great interest. The facelifted DS 4 gets the so called “DS Wings” front grill, with 84 LED lights. Also, the whole car has been lowered by 30 mm. The full leather interior actually looks and feels quite upmarket. The new 7 inch touch screen is alright. Many reviews have criticized it for having a very slow response time. It’s certainly not on a par with the best touch screens on the market but it’s quite good.

The DS 4 is the first car of the PSA Corporation to introduce Apple CarPlay. Hence, it projects the iPhone’s icons to the touchscreen of the car. The amount of buttons on the center console has also been reduced from 18 to 6. The built quality feels pretty upmarket. Changing gears while standing feels pretty precise and there is little play when in gear.

2015 DS 4 Crossback
2015 DS 4 Crossback

As far as the DS 4 Crossback is concerned, its height has been raised by 10 mm compared to the previous Citroën labelled version, transforming it into an SUV. The Crossback comes with wheel arch moldings and some roof bars. Inside, it’s technically identical to the standard DS 4. However, without the full leather interior, it looks well put together but not premium anymore. The fact that the DS 4 shares the dashboard with the Citroën C4 doesn’t help. The main issue with the DS 4 & DS 4 Crossback remains the pointy rear door with the fixed windows. In all fairness, I didn’t expect them to do structural changes on a facelift.

The revised DS 5 has been on the market for about half a year now and it has been given kind of the same treatment: “DS Wings” front grill, LED lights, touch screen, fewer buttons on the center console, revised suspensions and a new 6 speed gearbox.

2015 DS 5
2015 DS 5

Although all of the DS 4 & DS 5 models have now changed the Citroën chevron logos with the DS signature, the cars are technically still running under the Citroën brand. That will probably change with the brand’s new model generation starting in 2017. Although the manufacturer can’t yet compete with the technically much more advanced and very customer oriented German rivals, such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, DS is clearly taking small steps in that direction. Until the end of this decade, DS plans on having a worldwide uniform model range of six models. Now that Jaguar are back on track and tackling the German establishment, we just might see a French contender in about five years’ time.

Jaguar F-Type GTR by Ritter Design – 2015 Zurich Auto Show

New suit for the cat

Jaguar F-Type GTR by Ritter Design
Jaguar F-Type GTR by Ritter Design

As I walk through the 2015 Zurich Auto Show I’m taking a quick look at the Jaguar F-Type by Ritter Design. They call it the GTR. It’s based on the entry level V6 model with 340 hp and has been increased to 440 hp. You can tell it’s the V6 because it has the dual center exhaust pipe. Just as the factory model has. What else is new besides a couple of GTR badges? You get a front and rear spoiler, some side flaps, a bespoke diffusor and of course, custom 20 inch wheels.

Anyway, Ritter Design are specialized in Jaguar Cars, so check out their website if you want to see what other cars they work on.

Jaguar F-Type GTR by Ritter Design
Jaguar F-Type GTR by Ritter Design

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