- Post is under moderationLamborghini Murciélago With one Scandinavian trip cut short but another in the offing, the big Lambo is also gearing up for a close-up down under.
Date acquired September 2004 Lamborghini Murciélago
Total mileage 267,838
Mileage this month 1331
Costs this month £225 oil and filter mpg this month 14.5
/ #2004 / #Lamborghini-Murcielago / #Lamborghini / #Lamborghini-V12 / #V12 / #2004-Lamborghini-Murcielago /
With the exceptionally hot weather this summer it’s been interesting to see the rear-mounted ‘bat wings’ on the Murciélago almost permanently in the raised position – something I’ve seen only very rarely in the UK. On past trips to warmer climes I’ve clocked that they usually rise up to aid cooling only when the outside temperature reaches about 29deg C. Travelling south during summer on the continent they invariably make an appearance when passing the French city of Lyon, staying raised from there on until reaching Lyon once again on the trip back.
They certainly weren’t seen in action in beautiful but bitterly cold Norway, which is where I last reported on the Murciélago from. I actually called time on that trip a day prematurely because the heater called it quits. After catching the ferry back to Frederikshavn in northern Denmark I endured a rotten journey south late at night: sea mist hanging thick in the air and no street lighting or catseyes. It wasn’t fun and I was glad to cross the German border near Flensburg some 220 miles later, where I bunked up for what remained of the night. I promise I’ll never complain about UK motorways again…
That stretch and the horrific road-works around Hamburg aside, I enjoyed my Scandinavian road-trip experience immensely – so much so that by the time you read this the big Lambo and I will be back there again. This time, however, the plan is to miss out Denmark (nothing personal – the Murcie and I just have a thing for car ferries) by planting the Lamborghini’s rubber on the boat that travels from the German port of Kiel directly to Oslo in Norway, before taking up where I left off last time. I’ll let you know how it goes soon.
Talking of travel, another epic trip is looming courtesy of a US film production company. During October the Murciélago will be strapped inside a Maersk shipping container before docking a couple of months later in Nelson. That’s not Nelson in Lancashire, you understand, but Nelson, New Zealand. The movie company had been looking for a Murciélago SV to star in the first few minutes of the remake of an early 1980s classic – the original also having a certain V12 Lamborghini in it. I’m not actually privy to which movie it is yet, but I don’t think it’s that difficult to guess. Let’s just say that back then the Lamborghini in question sported a huge rear wing (and a dreadful front-mounted one, too) plus a set of carburettors and had two particularly attractive female occupants.
Apparently no SV owners were willing to have their pride and joy cross the Pacific in a metal box (not surprising really given SVs are now exceptionally serious money), so SG54 LAM will be transformed into an SV lookalike complete with an enormous rear wing, wider side skirts and a glass engine lid. However, rest assured it will be returned to standard afterwards, the wing possibly becoming a useful garden ornament.
Unfortunately, I’m unlikely to be behind the wheel during filming (I look awful in a jumpsuit) but I hopefully won’t be far away either, since the plan is then to add another two or three thousand miles of Kiwi roads to the Murciélago’s long-suffering V12. It’ll soon be ready for clutch number eight at this rate… Simon George
Above: the Lambo’s active air intakes have been called into action a lot this year; bodywork will soon be given an SV-like makeover – with good reason.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #Audi-RS6-Avant-C5 / #Audi-RS6-C5 / #Audi-RS6-Avant / #Audi-RS6 / #Audi-A6-C5 / #Audi-A6 / #Audi /
Back in #2002 the #V8 twin-turbo all-wheel drive Audi RS6 Avant was the world’s fastest estate. With 450bhp it outgunned both the contemporary BMW M5 E39 and Mercedes-Benz E55 W210; and until AMG upped its horsepower game, this was the undisputed king of the supercar load-luggers.
Priced then at £66,675 it was limited to 155mph, but with a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds it could out-drag a Ferrari 360 and Porsche Carrera C4. If you bypassed the limiter, it could hit an astonishing 190mph. Between April and September 2004 Audi built a limited edition of 999 run-out C5 models known as the Plus, each with a numbered plaque on the transmission tunnel. The #Cosworth-tweaked 4.2 V8 cranked out 473bhp with a new ECU and it had sports suspension, pressure optimised exhaust (for more noise), quicker steering rack, 19-inch six-spoke alloys and a black body ‘Optic Pack’. Only 70 UK Plus versions were delivered so these are the rarest C5 RS6 Avants of all – and they’re limited to 175mph.
While ‘normal’ 2002 to 2004 RS6 Avants can be bought for £10-£15k, a genuine factory Plus is worth an easy £20,000.
A private Yorkshireman has just sold a lovely 2004 in black with 48,000 miles and eight stamps in the book for a very low £13,995 and I’m thinking he can’t have known what he was selling. Prices and desirability have stayed very strong and as far back as 2014 Historics managed to secure £14k for a silver 86,000- miler – which shows just how cheap that Yorkshire car was.
As one of the rarest and most collectible Audis it’s worth checking all ads for #2004 RS6 Avants and looking for the distinctive black exhausts and roof rails just in case another bargain Plus slips through your fingers. All RS6s need converting to coil-over suspension because the original factory-specified gas shocks don’t last long and the five-speed #Tiptronic-ZF gearbox regularly fails too. #ZF said it needed regular oil and filter changes but Audi told owners it was sealed for life. Bills for gearbox oil changes are a good sign but if not, check the box works properly when it’s fully hot because torque converter issues and sludgedup valve bodies are common.
Find a cherished RS6 or RS6 Plus Avant and you’ll own a classic Audi legend that can only grow in both value and stature.
COST NEW £66.7K 2002 UK
VALUE NOW £15K 2018 UKStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLamborghini Murciélago. It’s still on the road, even through winter – but it has a strong rival on cold mornings…
Date acquired September #2004 / #Lamborghini-Murcielago / #Lamborghini / #Lamborghini-V12 / #V12 / #2004-Lamborghini-Murcielago /
It’s been some time since I last wrote a report on ‘Trigger’s Broom’, but I’m told evo’s readers keep asking after the quarter-million-mile (and rising) Lambo, so here’s an update on how it’s been fairing since its nut and bolt rebuild.
Despite a few small teething problems since the wide Pirellis were reacquainted with tarmac early last year, I’m pleased to report the Murciélago is running amazingly well. Of course, being an old-school supercar it still possesses an obstinate dislike for second gear, which it refuses to engage when cold, despite the whole ’box being rebuilt in not so ancient times. I learnt many moons ago to simply ignore this cog and skip straight to third – something I still do subconsciously.
Although winter is now in full swing, the Lambo is still accumulating miles at a steady rate; it’s wearing winter rubber and thankfully the recent new heater works perfectly. That said, since it and a #Range-Rover-Sport-SDV8 that I also run never ever see the inside of a garage, it takes some real enthusiasm on a frosty morning to press the unlock button on the remote for the Murciélago, rather than that for the Range Rover, before embarking on my 90-minute commute.
This is probably something to do with the fact that the #Range-Rover can preheat its sumptuous interior for half an hour before I get into it and will waft onto the M1 with seamless gearchanges and a near-silent soundtrack. There’s a definite appeal there, certainly next to climbing into a freezing Lamborghini before fighting a stone-cold ’box with no second gear and wondering what mood it’ll be in today.
Regular readers may remember that, when the Murciélago was first test driven following the rebuild, I was still a tad concerned that it might not track in a straight line given its prior severe chassis damage. I need not have worried – not only does it point its short nose where it should with accuracy, it’s also tremendously smooth to drive. Coupled with that wonderful rising and falling V12 soundtrack orchestrated by the manual ’box (when it’s warm), it’s just heaven. Sure, it’s not got the outright pace of today’s exotica, but I enjoy the effort required to perfectly synchronise the long manual throw with the equally long travel of the clutch. Beats a paddleshift hands down.
So to say I’m pleased with what’s been achieved with this Murciélago is an understatement. No, it’s not quite perfect yet. The rear spoiler gets stuck in the upright position (very common), small parts of the leather trim are still waiting to be replaced, and the badly worn symbols on the petrol cap release will stay worn, as will the faded exterior V12 badge – both as a nod to the car’s past.
Business commitments meant I never did get to take it to Italy last year as planned, but since I’ve always fancied touring Scandinavia, I’m now plotting to drive it north to Sweden, via Germany and Denmark, during 2018. I’m now confident enough in the car’s reliability to keep piling on the miles indefinitely. And, let’s face it, I’m way beyond having to worry about depreciation!
Simon George (@6gearexperience)
Date acquired September 2004
Total mileage 262,334
Mileage this month 1066
Costs this month £130 oil change
Mpg this month 13.0
‘You’re fighting a stonecold ’box with no second gear and wondering what mood it’ll be in today’Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationRight: steering wheel and dash have been retrimmed in Alcantara; Simon George is looking forward to putting them to the test soon.
Date acquired September 2004 / #Lamborghini-Murcielago / #Lamborghini / #Lamborghini-V12 / #V12 / #2004
Total km 415,280
Km this month 0
Costs this month TBC
L/100km this month n/a
Lamborghini Murciélago Its refreshed interior is ready for action, but the mid-mounted V12 is not
It’s been a frustrating few-months for ‘Trigger’s Broom’, which has been struggling with an electrical issue with its engine, thereby delaying its long-awaited return to the road. Lamborghini’s Manchester dealership has therefore become the Murciélago’s second home whilst its technicians try to get to the bottomof why the car’s once mighty #V12-engined has become a limp in-line six.
As regular readers will know, the Lambo lost an argument with an oak tree back in November 2012, which left it (the car, not the tree) damaged way beyond economical repair. Being the sentimental sort, I chose to embark upon a nut and bolt rebuild all the same, and three years later the car has more replacement parts fitted than original, so its nickname has never been more apt!
Somewhat ironically, after the aforementioned catastrophic incident the Murciélago’s engine still ran sweetly, but somewhere along its road to recovery the main bus fuse was blown and the 426kW V12 lost a bank of six cylinders.
Electrical gremlins can take many hours to nail down in Italian supercars, and despite changing all the ECUs and investigating myriad other theories, the problem has not yet been solved. Now a systematic testing of every part of the wiring loom is in progress, so hopefully I’ll hear some good news – and the sound of 12 cylinders running smoothly – soon.
On a more positive note, the Lambo’s interior has recently been refreshed and updated by having the dashboard and steering wheel re-covered in Alcantara. It really looks the part and will hopefully reduce the reflections in the Murciélago’s huge windscreen. I look forward to finding out shortly, not least because my goal is to hit 500,000km by the end of 2017. More news soon.
The 6.2-litre 426kW V12 has lost a bank of six cylinders.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationE46 #Transmission-oil-cooler / #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-E46-Transmission-oil-cooler / #GM-automatic
I recently went to look at a #2004 #BMW-320d-E46 auto Touring with a view to buying it – apparently it had oil in the coolant, diagnosed as a head gasket problem, which is fixable if the car’s cheap enough. Sure enough, the coolant header tank was full of oily mayonnaise but there were pointers that this was another problem because the engine ran and idled perfectly, didn’t overheat and the oil level on the dipstick hadn’t dropped at all. However, when I put the shifter into D, it took a second or two to engage forward drive at which point the engine started ‘hunting’ as if the gearbox was struggling to maintain drive.
It had been driven like that for quite a while and, with discretion being the better part of valour, I left it there – heaving automatic gearboxes in and out is no fun and the #GM unit used in these is a heavy old brute. But I did tell the owner what I thought the trouble may be – a split auto box heat exchanger. These fit to the base of the radiator with one of those spring clips and the auto box cooler pipes fit on with the horrid push fit expanding clips and they can rupture inside. #Gearbox oil then seeps out of the split into the coolant and often, vice versa. A phone call a few days later from the seller informed me my hunch was right. As well as flushing the cooling system out and fitting a good used cooler, the gearbox needed a full flush as well. The gearbox began working again as it should but with a faint noticeable whine. So, keep an eye on the coolant and at the first sign of oil and coolant mixing, check out both the engine and transmission coolers.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #BMW-X3-2.0d-M-Sport-E83 / #BMW-X3-2.0d-E83 / #BMW-X3-E83 / #BMW-X3 / #BMW-E83 / #BMW / #BMW-X-Series / #BMW-X-Series-E83 /
( #2004 to #2010 ) THIS MONTH’S BEST BUY!
The X3 has never proved as popular as the X5 on the used market, and new or nearly-new buyers tend to migrate towards either the X1 or the X5 – so current values of even well-spec’d M Sport X3s aren’t as high as you might expect.
Ten grand bags a 45k-mile manual 2007 or 2008 2.0d M Sport packing front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, air conditioning, rain sensitive wipers, 60/40 split rear folding seats, front and rear foglights, tinted windows and 18-inch M Sport alloys. Average economy is pretty respectable at 39.2mpg and road tax is a not unreasonable £270 a year.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIronside. Rob Goodwin set out to build the world’s finest #Audi-A4 / #2004 . This is the result! #Audi
STARK RAVING MAD
After a near death experience and four days in a coma, Rob ‘Starkey’ Goodwin’s life would never be the same again, nor for that matter would his #2004 Audi A4.
So, was the trim actually meant to clash with the paintwork then or was it a bit of an accident?” It was one of those questions we shouldn’t have asked; one of those ‘did I just say that out loud?’ moments’. And, it happened to us the first time we met Rob ‘Starkey’ Goodwin back at the Players event in September. Sadly the earth didn’t open up and swallow us right there…
If we’d known at the time that he’d themed his car around a bottle of f**king Fanta and he’s all for stirring things up for the fun of it, then we’d probably not have felt quite so bad. Luckily for us Rob is about as laid back and relaxed as you could ever get, so instead of replying to our harsh remark with a swift dry slap, we’re met with a huge grin and a well practiced answer: “I get asked that a lot. My dad was into American muscle cars and anything with a big motor, so I grew up around the hot rod scene, which is why I like doing stuff that’s a little bit controversial.” Yes, Rob intentionally spent a fortune creating an interior that, to a degree, clashed with his bodywork.
Now we’ll get to Rob’s ‘Starkey’ nickname a bit later on which, as it happens, is very relevant to this story. In fact, most of what’s happened in Rob’s life appears to have led to the completion of the car you see before you in some shape or form.
The whole love for VW and Audis came after Rob learnt to drive in an old Beetle and despite a couple of mildly-modified Beemers in his early years, we get the impression Rob was always destined to wind up back in something from the VAG stable. “I just loved the Mk3 VR6 when it first came out but we’d just had our first child and I couldn’t afford one, certainly not new,” he said. But when prices finally dropped a few years later there was no stopping him. “The moment I could get enough money together I went out and bought a Mulberry VR6,” Rob continued. “I ended up doing it up at the same time as a friend who had an 8v GTI. We went to a few shows including GTI International, which is where I met Darren from G Werks.” While Rob isn’t what you’d call a natural mechanic, he’s always been willing to have a go: “Darren would always be willing to let me come down and watch him work, then let me have a go. It’s the only way you learn.”
Rob absolutely loved the Mk3 but soon he longed for more power, so a trip to TSR saw him opt for one of its 2.9 upgrades and the car then made around 220bhp at the flywheel. “Believe it or not the car used to wheelspin in fourth in the wet; this is when I first contacted Darren about converting it to four-wheel-drive,” Rob explained. Having already sunk a fair sum of cash into the car Rob was now faced with the dilemma of spending more, or cutting his losses and investing in something new. This is where fate stepped in, as it was about this time that Rob’s dad fell ill and sadly passed away.
“This was obviously a really low point for me,” said Rob, “but I needed to be strong for I grew up around the hot rod scene, which is why I like doing stuff that’s controversial everybody else and I also needed a more practical car so we could transport my mum around. I could hardly make her squeeze in the back of the Golf now, could I?”
As it happens, Rob Chaplin, who then worked for G Werks, really wanted to buy the Golf, so Rob decided to let G Werks have the car and just pay him back in a nice set of wheels for whatever car he ended up with, plus a load of free labour that he would no doubt pick up along the way. Well you didn’t think he’d end up leaving anything stock for long, did you?
If Rob was to go down the four-door route then he really wanted something that was only intended to be a four-door from the factory, and the A4 platform seemed like the sensible option. Sadly an RS4 or S4 was out of the question, so Rob began looking at 1.8Ts. “Darren advised me to go for the 190bhp model and I spotted a lovely example for sale at the local dealer in Crawley which had all the trimmings. I wasn’t really after silver but it was an ex-demo so had the full S4 kit and I fancied going down the VIP route with it,” he admitted. Especially as he had pressurised Darren into parting with the stunning deep-concave 19” Auto Couture hoops that had recently adorned his murdered-out Audi A6 demo. “We stuck a set of KW V2s on it pretty much straightaway and Darren sorted the stance out for me, like he does,” said Rob. Apparently the engine had already been taken to Stage 2: “It had the remap, exhaust and performance cat so went really well, but even on the original test-drive, before we’d sorted the chassis, you could take roundabouts at 80mph and it still stuck.
It was at that point I fell in love with it; you just can’t beat a Quattro!”
After the initial VIP theme Rob soon began to get bored, which he admits he has a habit of doing. “I wanted to make it look more aggressive and decided it needed a bit of the ol’ Darth Vader treatment,” he laughed. We’ll translate; what Rob actually meant was anything that wasn’t silver coachwork was getting the smoked treatment. “We did the windows, the mirrors, the lights, everything,” he continued. “I even went up to 20” RS4 wheels, but the thing is, it looked so aggressive that the power it had just didn’t seem enough to back it up.” We can see where this is heading…
The honeymoon period may have been far from over, but having a penchant for fast bikes, it’s safe to say Rob is also something of a speed freak and he was itching to release more power from the breathed-on 20v: “It was about this time that I said we needed to Stage 3 it, but I couldn’t find a kit.”
Darren, however, came up trumps with a kit from the States. Rob claims just prior to the big turbo he’d had to replace the original clutch with a twin-plate racing jobbie and that in itself made a huge difference. “I couldn’t wait to see what it would be like combined with more power!” Rob recalls. After his hardware shopping spree, it was time to fit the big turbo. Now despite the Stage 3 kit being sold as a bolt-on package, as usual it took a load of modifying to fit, probably due to the swap to right-hand drive, but according to Rob the result was insane: “It was based around a GT28 RS with all S4 cooling and we limited the boost so it produced a genuine 300bhp, but with more to come once we fitted the Forge front-mount and a few other internal goodies.” Was Rob pleased with the outcome? “Honestly, it just f**king rocks my world, even now. What more can I say?”
Now at this stage Rob confessed he’s the unluckiest lucky bloke you could ever meet, and once he’d explained why we totally got it; because while he’s ended up with his dream car, it’s not come easily. “2010 was the year that changed my life forever, because in July I was involved in a serious motorbike crash that turned my world upside down,” explained Rob. Although it’s now over 18 months since the crash, it’s clear Rob is far from recovered, both mentally and physically, but he’s certainly in a better place than he was and he now looks at life in a totally different light. “Apparently I died and came back in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I then died again on the operating table,” said Rob, quite blasé about it all things considered. It was only after four days in a coma that he came round and realised just how lucky he had been. We say lucky, but the long and short of it is Rob now has more metal plates and pins in his body than Barry Sheen and was wheelchair-bound for a considerable time. To say he was lucky to be alive would be the understatement of the year. It sounds like a cliché until you hear it from Rob’s mouth, but he claims from that day on he just looked at everything in a totally different way: “From that moment on I decided I was going to live my f**king dreams. The wife and I had never really been extravagant in the past but this changed my whole outlook. In fact, it changed us both,”
Rob claims it was actually his wife who at this point that suggested he buy an RS4, which had always been a dream of his. “I remember laying there in bed, all busted up and it still brings a tear to my eye now remembering my wife saying that.” However, Rob had become more attached to the car than he had realised and after weighing up a few options, he decided what to do. “It didn’t make sense to spend another £15k on a new car that was less tunable, especially when I’d already blown a fortune on the RS4 interior,” he told us. Did we forget to mention that…?
Anyway, this is where Rob decided to really up the ante: “I thought long and hard about it and decided from the moment I got out of hospital that I was going to build the best B6 A4 on the planet.” In fact, his quest began sooner than that as Rob embarked on the mother of all internet surfs, preparing the project from his hospital bed. “I had so much time on my hands I went online and Google’d every A4 build I could find to see what was out there and what I was up against,” he said.
“Luke at Plush had just finished his Mk5, so I knew the level of interior, and as for paint, well, it was clear that white had become the new black, but I’d always been into bright colours ever since I was a kid.”
And having been in such a dark place for those first few weeks after the crash Rob knew what had to be done: “I was sick of all the grey in the hospital, it was all just so dull and miserable. I just kept thinking somebody bring me some f**king flowers, would you,” he laughed. Had the car not been so well spec’d in the first place Rob would never had opted for silver, but now he had the option to change that, there was only really one colour.
“Being an Arsenal fan it just had to be red, I’d always loved red, from drinking Coke as a child, to loving the Union Jack. It’s always a colour I link to the early Audi Quattro and the original Golf GTI” he said. That was the easy bit though, choosing the shade, however, would be a lot harder. This is when, as Rob put it, “everything just seemed to slot into place”, oh, and he picked up his new nickname, to boot!
“My mates used to call me Bones as I was well into my martial arts and was a bit of a ninja,” he laughed, “but they decided that this didn’t really fit the bill anymore. Then, one day, a friend called me Starkey after Tony Stark in Iron Man, referring to the metal plates I had in my legs, and it just kind of stuck. I hadn’t seen the film so I rushed out to borrow a copy as I loved the name. The funny thing is, in the film Tony Stark drives a 1927 hot rod with red trim, so I naturally began thinking about using that shade – for the inside at least.” Then Rob remembered the first Yank car his dad ever imported, a bright yellow Mach 1 Mustang which he resprayed Brandy Wine pearl, another shade of red. Now he was really torn… until he stumbled across the perfect shade while out shopping. “Believe it or not I spotted this toaster that was exactly the colour I wanted, so I bought it as a reference,” he smiled.
Eccentric? Yeah, you could say that. Rob had already been in discussions with a certain Carl Talyor about speaking to paint supremo, Steve Denton with regards to painting the car. “I knew Steve was up to the job, it was just a case of whether he could squeeze me in as he was meant to be painting Carl’s RS4 at that stage,” said Rob.
Steve’s got to like you to take on your project and where Rob was concerned the ice-breaker came after he sent Steve a photo of his toaster: “I remember his exact words: ‘I can’t f**king match that, it’s a f**king Morphy Richards toaster!” Luckily Rob then stumbled across an Alfa 8C Competionz painted a similar shade, so he hunted down the code and finally had the magic number for Mr Denton.
It was just before Ultimate Dubs 2011 that Rob stumbled across what have got to be his ultimate set of wheels: the 19” Rotiform VCE: “I was at Darren’s and he was having a conference call with the guys from Rotiform when I heard that the wheels were up for sale,” said Rob. He’d spotted the super-rare rollers previously on a certain B6 wagon in Florida but never dreamt he’d end up owning them. “Being forged monoblocks they’re ultra-light, but people don’t get how special they are just because they’re not split-rims,” he smiled.
Not long after the wheels came the air-ride. “Again, it was as if it was meant to be,” said Rob. “As I was now bound to a wheelchair, I could no longer get in the car on the coilovers because it was too low.” As luck, or maybe fate, would have it BagRiders had just announced its new air-ride kit for the B6 platform centred around AirLift struts. And Rob was one of the lucky few to get on board from the start, again thanks to Darren who had just become an agent for the company.
It wasn’t long after Ultimate Dubs 2011 that things jumped into gear: “I had another stint in hospital,” recalls Rob, “but Carl was great, not only did he agree to look after the car for me but he also convinced Steve to paint it alongside the RS4 so it would be done in time for Edition 38.” Rob had made his mind up that should Steve take on the car then there was only one place to entrust with the trim; you guessed it, MJ Interiors.
Again, that was the relatively easy part, coming up with a suitable colour, well, that might prove a bit more challenging – especially if Rob’s history had anything to do with it. “Initially I looked back at the hot rod in Iron Man but red had been done; then I considered grey with red piping but that was too safe,” Rob said. “I’d then almost opted for grey with red piping but then I got the call from G Werks’ design consultant, namely Darren Bennet.”
Apparently Darren had spotted a bright Bugatti Veyron Supersports with a bright orange interior, and he thought of Starkey straight away: “Initially I thought he was having a laugh and I’d end up looking like a giant bag of Skittles, but then I remembered how it worked on the Fanta Fruit Twist soft drink I was hooked on, so I just decided to go for it.”
It was clear by this stage that Rob was only going for the best products available, and when MJ sent down some sample swatches, this became only too apparent. “The colour was easy as I just wanted the brightest orange around but choosing the leather was a bit harder,” Rob remarked.
There was a choice between a UK produced leather, which was okay, or a super-soft German hide that, according to MJ, was a little bit more expensive: “He quoted me £3000, which I didn’t think was too bad, until he revealed that was just the labour. I remember the conversation well; MJ said you can either go English and f**k it up or buy the German stuff and smash it!” What do you say to that? The thing is, Rob being Rob, he didn’t want a conversional trim. “I wanted it to match the Veyron exactly, so basically everything from the centre line down was covered in orange leather,” he smiled. This might not sound like a lot of work, but when you take a closer look at the interior shots you’ll appreciate a lot more what was involved. “MJ was amazing though, he really got into it, sourcing all the relevant paint and whatnot to ensure everything tied in.” And according to Rob the leather was absolutely sublime: “It was just so soft, you could stretch the 3x3” sample he sent me out to about 12x12”, it was that flexible.”
On Rob’s instructions Michael ordered in seven hides and that alone cost best part of £2k. It had always been Rob’s dream to win just one trophy with the car and it wasn’t long after MJ had finished that he began to believe he might be in with a shot.
“Once MJ was finished a friend and I borrowed a van and went up to pick the trim up. I’d already said to Michael I’m a fussy bugger so please make sure it’s right but I needn’t have worried, he’d done a great job.” At first Rob couldn’t get his head round some of the stuff MJ had done, like covering the handles and door pockets. “He even perforated the speaker covers, and did red stitching to tie in with the body,” said Rob, “I genuinely didn’t think it could be done, so this was certainly a high point.”
As soon as the guys returned from MJ’s place in Leeds to G Werks on the south coast, where the car was waiting, it was all systems go for the refit. “Darren had the whole lot back in place in no time and it was at this stage that I saw all my dreams starting to come true, right in front of my eyes,” recalled Rob.
The last thing to be done was a visit to Studio InCar where Carl ‘Shakey’ Shakespeare and the team built Rob a nice little iPod dock in his door pocket and a tidy install for the boot, complete with a loading cover that would hid the air-ride below and allow the trunk to be used as normal and so it could house Rob’s wheelchair. “The guys did a fantastic job; they’re just too bloody talented. You’ll think I’m mad, but I often go to work half and hour early these just so I can sit in the car and admire the trim.”
Now we know a few people aren’t going to like the car because of the money that’s been thrown at it, but Rob couldn’t be more of a humble guy if he tried: “I only wanted to win one trophy, but on stage at Edition 38 when they just kept coming I’ll admit it was a bit embarrassing.” If you’ve got it, flaunt it and Rob’s certainly not shy in that respect, but then why should he be? He’s proud of the car and everybody that’s helped him achieve his dream. It’s so refreshing to hear a story about a build where the owner only has positive things to say about all the companies involved in the build. It’s not over either. Nope, although we were sworn to secrecy, Rob confessed to starting a resto project over winter for 2012 that sounds like a bit of a challenge. He’s also going all-out with the A4’s internals so he can crack the 350bhp mark. Clearly a day in the life of a super hero is never dull!
I saw all my dreams starting to come true, right in front of my eyes.
At the time of going to press Rob was out of his chair and repairing well.
DUB TECHNICAL DATA FILE DETAILS #Audi-A4 / Audi-A4 / #Audi-A4-B6 / #Audi-A4-1.8T-S-Line / #Audi-A4-1.8T-S-Line-B6 / #Audi-A4-8E /# Audi-A4-B6-8E /
ENGINE: 1.8T 20v S-Line (190bhp) #ATP-GT28RS-turbo-kit / #ATP-GT28RS / #ATP , full #Milltek stainless steel exhaust system and 3” ATP downpipe.
Performance: genuine 300bhp (limited) with full internal build coming soon.
CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) #Rotiform forged VCE rims with 225x35 and 235x35 Falken tyres respectively. Full #Air-Lift air-ride system, Easy Street autopilot setup built into console. Dual compressors, five-gallon tank, spare wheel well setup.
OUTSIDE: Full factory fit S4 bodykit, de-badged rear, front number plate recess shaved. Full colour change (painted Alfa Romeo 8c Competizione pearl red), all trim, sills, grille, exhaust tips painted satin black, all-round light window tint.
INSIDE: Recaro Sportster CS seats (back of seats trimmed in Alcantara ), RS4 flat-bottom steering wheel, gear knob, pedals etc, full interior retrim in Bugatti Veyron orange, perforated leather on RS4 parts and speaker trim in doorcards. RS4 mats, orange piped to match.
ICE: Factory-fitted BOSE system including sat nav, sub and amplifier, air install and custom boot build finished in Alcantara to match partial interior trim. Removable load cover to protect install.
SHOUT: Darren Bennett and the boys at G Werks for all the hours put in over and above the call of duty. Carl Taylor for hooking me up with Steve and MJ. Steve Denton and the team at Stylehaus for an awesome paint job. MJ and Adrian for an awesome interior at MJ Interiors, Brian and Jason at Rotiform for designing great rims, Carl Shakespeare at Studio InCar for the unique boot install and stereo upgrade. And the biggest thanks has to go to Karen, my beautiful wife for supporting me through my dreams and putting up with the tantrums when the good wasn’t going so well.
Carl and the team at Studio InCar worked some magic with the hi-fi. With RS4 seats, wheels and gear knob and a more tuneable engine we see why Rob stuck with the devil he knew.
MJ Interiors worked wonders on Bugatti Veyron Super Sport-themed trim. And, yes, it was meant to clash!
I grew up around the hot rod scene, which is why I like doing stuff that’s controversial.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationJEKYLL HYDE #Holden-Commodore VY SS #Holden-Commodore-VY SS / #Holden-Commodore-VY-SS
The transformation of Todd Arnold’s VY SS, in his own words, has been “a Jekyll and Hyde scenario” – except less murderous and destructive! Story by Ben Hosking. Pics by Ralf Schubert.
We get a few comments and suggestions about engine diversity here at Street Commodores. Most of the time you can tell it boils down to the commenter’s loyalty or preferred engine/model than to any real lop-sided coverage on our part. However, one recent criticism we encountered was that there were far too many LS-powered cars lately. “It’s all LS1-2-3 through 6 and if the cars didn’t come with one, they’ve been transplanted”.
Well, without going back and counting, they’re probably right – but with very good reason: the LS-series of engines is like the injected 5L was when it first hit the scene in the late 1980s with the VN. All of a sudden ‘retrotech’ was born and conversions were happening everywhere. Perhaps the biggest difference this time around is that the LS-series just boasts so much power-making potential and West Australian Todd Arnold’s series-II VY SS is an excellent example of that.
Todd bought the VY from one of the guys at West Coast Smash Repairs, who’d already repainted the car in its original Phantom mica – so it was sitting pretty and ready to do some cruising. “I originally purchased the SS as a daily after pushing two conrods out the side of the block on my VZ Maloo,” Todd says. “I planned to keep it stock, but that lasted about a week before I removed of the rear spoiler, fi t SL and SSL springs and bolted on some cheap china-chrome 20s. I drove the vehicle like this for a year with no desire to modify it anymore, as I had started building as LS1 for a VK project car I had.”
Indeed, Todd, clearly pretty handy with the tools, began bolting together a fresh LS1 in his parent’s shed, but before long, he’d found a buyer for the VK shell leaving him with a new engine but nothing to bolt it into. You can guess what happened next.
“After spending many hours in the shed, and turning my parents’ laundry sink from a beautiful white into more of a dark grey/black hybrid, the engine was complete,” he says. “With a few teething problems sorted by some friends it made 386rwhp, naturally aspirated.”
“I kept it N/A and I had little to no desire to enter the realm of forced induction. With a 6in filter through the bonnet and a TH350, Sunday coastal cruises were moderately enjoyable.” But, as we hear so many times here at Street Commodores, it wasn’t long before the healthy 380rwhp combo grew a little wearisome and Todd found himself yearning for more – much more. “The initial stages of having a custom turbo kit designed and fabricated proved quite difficult (also mentally draining),” Todd says, “as my desire for the car was to keep the air conditioning and all the luxury features, but that clashed with the custom style manifolds.”
After months of not having the car to cruise in due to it being in bits and pieces, Todd decided to take the car to the crew at Streetbuilt Racing where they quickly took to the project, ordering an ASE turbo kit and stripping out any unnecessary hardware in preparation. “In total, the turbo setup and fuel system took over 14 months, with certain highs and lows along the way,” he says.
Let’s take a closer look at the combo and what helps it make 624rwhp on E85 and just 14psi. First off, as we began our story, the home-built LS1 was already making almost 400rwhp without the turbo kit and no serious internal modifications – no extra cubes, no extra compression, no head work.
In the interests of longevity there are forged H-beam rods and forged pistons and the factory heads are held in place by ARP studs, but the majority of the mumbo comes from external influences – save for a big hydraulic roller cam and upgraded valve train gear.
The most obvious is the billet 67mm Borg Warner turbo that’s pumping 14psi into the Edelbrock intake setup that features a Super Victor single-plane manifold and 90mm throttle. Fuel wise, there are two Aeromotive A1000 pumps out back drinking E85 from a 95L fuel cell and feeding it into the engine via dash-10 lines and 1000cc injectors. The combo retains the factory ECU and coils. Let’s see you get these kinds of numbers from a Holden 5L with the same amount of work.
Being a fresh build, track time has been limited. However, Todd has run a best of 10.7sec @ 130mph so far and we reckon it won’t be long before the numbers get smaller. “The first drive was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had,” he says. “It’s a new car, a Jekyll and Hyde scenario.”
“Off boost it’s comparable to a run-of-the-mill cammed LS1 – rough idle, aggressive note and a slow humming from the firing of all cylinders. The sound is enough to relax most people with oil and passion in their veins, Todd continues. “On boost the torque is evident with butt imprints into the leather seats, and horsepower carrying it through with speed once the tyres gain traction. The sound of the screamer pipe evacuating the wasted gases brings shakes to the knees.”
Todd isn’t quite finished with the VY just yet. While he says if he had his time again he’d turn his attention toward a “steel bumper US muscle car”, he still plans to fit a bigger turbo and aftermarket heads to the LS1, whilst retaining the factory cubes. “There were moments when I wanted to just sell the car and move on, but the team at Streetbuilt wouldn’t let me and pushed me through till the end.” We’re glad they did!
TECH DATA NITTY-GRITTY 2004 #Holden Commodore VY SS II
MODEL: #2004 #Holden-Commodore-VY-SS-II
BODYWORK: Reverse-cowl scoop, alloy wing
COLOUR: Phantom, matte roof
ENGINE MODS: Prepped block, Manley forged H-beam rods, Mahle forged flat-top pistons and rings (10.8:1 comp’), Clevite bearings, Manley double valve springs, sheet metal rocker covers, dash-10 breather lines, Moroso catch cans, ARP head studs, Thunder Racing-spec’ Comp Cams hydraulic roller (0.610/0.615in lift, 242/248° duration, 110° LSA), Howards tie-bar lifters, Trend chromoly pushrods, Howards 1.7:1 roller rockers, Rollmaster double-row timing chain, #Moroso high-volume oil pump, 4-core VZ alloy radiator, 2- per cent under driven pulleys, Edelbrock Super Victor 4150 intake, 90mm Edelbrock throttle, Borg Warner S400 67mm billet turbo (14psi), 2x A1000 Aeromotive pumps (E85), Aeromotive reg’, 2x 100-micron Aeromotive fuel filters, 10-micron Aeromotive filter, 95L fuel cell, dash-10 fuel lines, 1000cc injectors, 2x 50mm Turbosmart BOVs, Turbosmart wastegate, 4in intercooler, custom intake piping.
POWER: 624rwhp (465rwkW), 10.7sec @ 130mph
EXHAUST: ASE turbo manifolds, twin-into-single stainless 3.5in system (turbo back), screamer pipe.
GEARBOX: T400, 4500rpm All-Fast stall, reverse pattern valve body, trans brake, modified driveshaft.
DIFF: 3.07:1 final drive, LSD, VT 4-bolt flange
SUSPENSION: King springs, FE2 shocks and struts
WHEELS/TYRES: 15in Weld rims (4in front, 8in rear), ET Street rear tyres
INTERIOR: B&M shifter, eBoost 2
BUILD PERIOD: 3 years
COST: $45,000 approx.
West Coast High Performance, Streetbuilt Racing, FED PSI, Final Drive Engineering, Alfa Motorsport, West Coast Smash Repairs, Unique Detailing, Rollin Industries, Joshua Lopreiato, Mark and Roni Arnold for their ever-continuing support, my wonderful girlfriend Tracy for accepting my passion, all my friends and family associated with the positive progression of the build.
The combo makes 624rwhp on E85 and just 14psi.
A 95L fuel cell full of E85 lives in the boot along with the relocated battery.
“The first drive was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had,” he says. “It’s a new car, a Jekyll and Hyde scenario”
67mm billet Borg Warner S400 turbo pumps 14psi into the relatively mild LS1.
Being a nice, clean anthracite leather job, Todd hasn’t rushed to modify the interior of his SS and the only mods you’ll see in here (at least until he gets sent home to put a cage in it) is a B&M shifter and eBoost 2.
The LS1 has been rebuilt, but retains stock cubes and its original crank, however forged H-beam rods, flat-top pistons and ARP head studs help ensure longevity. Most of the attention has been lavished on the intake and fuel systems where you’ll find two huge Aeromotive A1000 pumps sending E85 to the front end where a 67mm billet #Borg-Warner turbo pumping 14psi into the Edelbrock intake setup for 624rwhp and a 10.7sec ET... so far.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationReflections on Evolution #BMW i3 #2015 and #Audi A2 #2004 . We reflect on the evolution of the #BMW-i3 and its parallels with the Audi A2, a car ahead of its time. Although more than a decade apart, we look at the innovative thinking and similar approach that went into the development of each of these ground breaking cars. WORDS & PHOTOS: Jonathan Musk. THANKS TO: Matt Hayward.
At first glance, there may seem to be little in common between these two cars. However, take a closer look and consider both are pioneering vehicles in their own right and similarities begin to appear. Although nearly 15 years separate the two cars, many parallels may be drawn.
The world was not so different in the late 90’s. Fuel prices were steadily increasing with demand swaying toward more economical vehicles. The average car model only offered basic petrol and diesel engines while ancillaries like turbos or superchargers remained solely performance add-ons. Government aimed to increase emphasis on carmakers to begin providing more fuel-efficient offerings and this meant manufacturers had to become a little more inventive than they had been in the past.
As the millennium approached, Volkswagen launched the new Beetle in 1997, a retro styled car, which offered a little ironic opulence by recreating an old - flawed - icon for a modern world. It wasn’t a great success. Despite good feedback when displaying the concept car in 1994, the market wasn’t ready for a retro inspired car that offered little more over its Golf underpinnings. A different tactic was needed, although the direction of the new Beetle would ultimately set a trend many others would successfully follow. It did accomplish starting a trend for retro inspired cars and today it is hard to imagine a road without the new Fiat 500 or BMW MINI.
Audi took a different approach. Instead of trying to link itself artificially to a car of yesteryear, their design would be modern yet in-keeping with the current Audi model range while still managing to be avant-garde. Audi would bestow the car with a new attitude toward innovation clearly setting it apart from competing cars in its class. The #Audi-Al2 concept car was first shown in 1997 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, in the same year the new Beetle was launched. It sported a neat aerodynamic look and was built from aluminium. In 1999, Audi surprised the world by introducing the A2 production model, a car that clearly derived from the Al2 concept shown just two years earlier.
The #Audi-A2 was different, but how? First and foremost, construction defied convention and logic. Rivals like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class used a traditional steel construction, whereas the A2 used aluminium extensively – a first for a car of its size. This immediately put the A2 in a class of its own, at least with respect to the asking price, almost twice as much as the A-Class. Second, were the engine options. The two petrol engines available were relatively normal, having been taken from VAG’s Polo parts bin. The diesel option was a little different in that it was a three-cylinder turbo, at a time when four-cylinder oil-burners were par for the course. The fourth variant, which was not made available in the UK, consisted of a small capacity 1.2-litre petrol engine mated to an automatic gearbox. The idea was to offer the best economy and this special A2 featured additional aerodynamic tweaks too. In the UK, the gem in the range was the three-cylinder turbo diesel, as it provided plenty of power with exceptional fuel economy and low emissions, that still compares favourably more than a decade after its initial launch.
The A2 was a bold offering. There was nothing else like it on the market. Unfortunately, this was likely the reason why it wasn’t the sales success Audi had hoped it to be. Car reviewers struggled to compare it to other vehicles as although its size placed it naturally into the super-mini class, it cost twice as much as some of its rivals. If compared by price, comparative vehicles were in a different class altogether and therefore incomparable. Unfortunately for Audi, the same confused attitude came from potential customers who found the A2 difficult to understand. The blend of MPV styling, super-mini class positioning and high asking price proved a difficult sale. On the one hand, it was classed by Audi’s own naming convention as being smaller than the Audi A3, which was true externally, but internally it was volumetrically larger. Similarly, the package offered was typical for the time. Skimpy equipment as standard but with extras added, a fully specced A2 offered the latest in-car tech, leather seating and even a luxurious glass roof – all at a price, of course. Sat nav cost an eye-watering £1,300 in basic guise, with the ‘Plus’ version costing a whopping £2,175. It is worth noting the base price for the A2 with a 1.4 petrol engine and no extras cost £13,145 in 2003. In truth, the A2 was a subtle pioneer, that many dismissed it in favour of more conventional offerings. That fact aside, the A2’s real genius was in the details. The aluminium construction was the most obvious development and relied heavily upon learning’s from the full-size A8 to make the Audi Space Frame (ASF) work for a super-mini. Overall weight for the A2 started at 1040.4kg for the 1.4 basic petrol model. Had Audi stuck to this alone, the A2 might have been seen as quite normal despite its alloy build.
However, Audi used the A2 as a design exercise and it is clear to see. For example, the bonnet had no hinges and so had to be removed fully in order to access the engine. The idea was servicing should only be carried out by professionals. For the owner, a handy flap was provided at the front of the car behind what would normally be the grill.
For the A2 though, it was a flat piece of aerodynamic plastic, rather than a mesh grille. Concealed by the service hatch was the dipstick, oil filler and screen wash. It was a neat idea that meant checking the basics was a doddle and a, literally, clean affair. Few cars offer similar inventive thinking with regard to checking the essentials. Moving inside the cabin, thin and functional sun visors can be found and their design ethos continues throughout the cabin. Slots exist at the back of the C-pillars, to locate the seat belt buckles when folding the rear seats. The rear seats themselves were fully removable, transforming the A2 into a flat-floored ‘van’ when needed. The aluminium construction also meant there is a sub floor where electronics are kept hidden, but easily accessed via panels beneath the carpets. The boot space could be fitted with an optional false floor too, allowing for storage of less used items to be hidden from view and making a more usable stacking option for the tall area. Some have hypothesised that the A2 might have been made electric drive, as there appears to be space to house large batteries, although this was never hinted at or offered by Audi during the car’s short six years of production.
The A2, as mentioned, was no sales success. Instead, Audi only managed to sell fewer than 200,000 units, which compares unfavourably to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, which sold around one million units. Price was likely the major contributing factor to this, as reviewers and owners alike praise the A2 for its drivability. The 1.4 petrol engine, although rudimentary, offered performance akin to a larger offering thanks to the lightweight materials used throughout the A2 construction. The 1.4 TDI was available in several variations, namely the 75 and 90PS. These provided a great driving experience, sounding more like a grunting V6 than a pokey three-cylinder. Several owners have since retuned their cars to offer more performance and even added an additional longer gear for motorway cruising. Some customers complained about the A2’s hard ride and this was addressed in 2003 by replacing suspension with softer components.
Driving the A2 is a rewarding experience, particularly the #Audi-A2-TDI90 model. The engine may not be unique to this car, but in the A2 it feels completely at home. Low-down torque means traffic driving is kept relaxing and when at speed the A2 makes for a decent cruiser. On country roads with the OpenSky at full aperture, the A2 can even be quite sporting.
It might be a city car, but it is more than that and does everything well. And it only costs £30 a year to tax, as the emissions are that low. The 1.4 petrol doesn’t match the TDI for economy or emissions, but in todays used market it makes for an interesting proposition. Sadly, the 1.6 is the one to avoid. Many suffered over enthusiastic driving and problems crept in too. If well maintained though, they offer a sporty package and the performance the 1.4 lacks. Overall, the A2 offered an advanced car for its day, which helps keep it looking and feeling fresh today. The BMW i3 has a similar design ethos to that of the A2 and consequently it too features an innovative approach for a car of its class.
It all began with the i3 concept, formerly known as Mega City Vehicle (MCV). In 2011, BMW decided to create a new sub-brand named BMW i, which would serve as an outlet for their electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Following successful trials of the MINI E, a car first seen in 2008 and largely created to meet Californian zero emission regulations, the BMW ActiveE was born. This time based on a larger BMW 1-Series, the drivetrain would evolve to be used in the i3. These two cars came under the umbrella of, ‘Project i’. The third and final phase of the project was to launch the i3 and i8, having studied invaluable data from the trials of both the MINI E and ActiveE. The approach to the i3’s design was similar to that of the Audi A2. Firstly, it had to be a little different from the usual hatchback and secondly they didn’t want it to end up not looking like a BMW. The decision had been taken to design it from the ground up, as it was to be the company’s first mass-produced electric car. An aluminium chassis was to be employed to house suspension, steering, batteries and electric motor, while a carbon-fibre body would be mounted atop. This heralded the first mass production use of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) for a car of its class. Before the i3, CFRP was the reserve of racing cars and high-end sports cars. The structure isn’t the only area where unconventional materials have been used either. The interior materials use renewable and sustainable materials where possible, including KENAF, which is a fast growing cotton-like fibrous substance, used on the doors and upper dashboard. The leather in the ‘suite’ interior option has been tanned using olive leaves to give a beautiful deep purple hue and keeps the process as natural as possible. Seat textiles in the other interior trim options are made from 100% recycled fibres too.
Like the A2, BMW used the i3 as a design exercise and added details are what make it a little more interesting than any other electric car. The first and most obvious novelty of the i3, are its rear-hinged back doors that, when opened, provide a pillarless aperture for passengers to clamber aboard. It is a similar approach to that seen in the popular Mazda RX8 but is still an unusual solution. Seating in the i3 and A2 is provided for four persons, although the A2 did have a rear bench option, making it a five-seater. BMW’s opinion on this is they would look into offering a five-seat variant, if there was sufficient demand.
The dashboard features two screens with no traditional instrument binnacles, as they are simply not needed. Driver information is provided on a simple but highly effective screen mounted behind the steering wheel. The centrally mounted and seemingly floating screen displays the usual multi-media and sat nav as is usual. It is not a touch screen either, in part because it is positioned too far away to comfortably reach and by being non-touch, it will not attract unsightly fingerprints. Instead it is operated by BMWs familiar iDrive control wheel. The cabin is a refined and comfortable place to be and it is easy to sense it would make an excellent companion in a city environment.
The i3 can be equipped with additional technology that enables the car to automatically park itself with the only user input being the brake. This £790 option comes with a high-res reversing camera, sensors at every corner and the ability to actually steer the car. All Audi could offer for the A2, a little over a decade earlier, was an acoustic rear parking system as a £350 extra. This does help demonstrate how technology has shaped vehicular development since the late 90’s.
The i3’s powertrain is another area of innovation. BMW did not do what most have done and pick a suitable electric motor from the shelf. Instead, they have developed a new motor in-house, which produces a respectable 170bhp. Being a BMW, they mounted it in the rear of the car providing the i3 the trade-mark rear wheel drive pushing power many know and love about other BMWs. Batteries are neatly stored within the double-skinned the floor and keep the centre of gravity low, which is ideal for handling. Equipped with its narrow tyres, performance and range of the i3 is surprisingly good with 0-62mph reached in 7.2 seconds and a 100 mile range from a single charge. Skinny tyres means less rolling resistance and helps the i3’s efficiency.
It is a ‘Marmite’ love/hate relationship with the i3’s energy regeneration. When throttling back, regeneration is consistently firm, making the hydraulic brakes all but redundant. There is no regen adjustment aside from your own foot, unlike in other electric cars. Once accustomed to it, the strong regen becomes intuitive. It allows for faster braking response too, whereas in a conventional vehicle engine retardation is gentle until the hydraulic brakes are applied. In the i3 braking force begins the moment your right foot is lifted. Some critics have complained it is overly harsh and certainly in scenarios like motorway driving it can be a touch over sensitive. Overall though, it is an interesting new approach to the way we drive; something other EV manufacturers have stayed clear of and instead opted for a more conventional feel. BMW appear to have instead embraced the potential an electric drive has to offer a different driving experience, rather than try to make the it feel familiar. It’s special and it feels it. Of course, if the battery range isn’t sufficient or a charge point isn’t available, BMW also offer the range extended model. This variant (as photographed) has a twin-cylinder 647cc petrol unit. This range extender only activates if charge in the battery is sufficiently low that it needs to operate. It extends the official range by an additional 93 miles maximum. Because BMW realise that it shouldn’t be relied upon for general driving and should instead only be used as a backup in times of need, they have fitted only a 9-litre fuel tank. Simply by carrying a Jerry can, range may be increased substantially. The idea is to keep the car fully electric as often as possible. The reason for the range extenders existence at all is because BMW accept that electric vehicle charging infrastructure is still in its infancy.
If you’re still of the mind that the comparison between these two cars is a little odd, then please draw your attention to more recent Audi thinking. In 2011, they looked at renewing the A2 badge with an all-new aluminium and CFRP car that would be powered electrically and offered as a plug-in hybrid too. Dubbed the A2 Concept, this was at a time when BMW were undertaking their trials with the ActiveE. Initially, Audi intended the new A2 to be available in 2015; unfortunately this was cancelled but would have been a natural competitor to the i3. In lieu of a new A2, the i3 has been distinctly lacking in this department. Reviewers have tried to compare the i3 to the likes of the Nissan LEAF and Kia Soul EV, both good vehicles in their own right, but their only similarity to the i3 is that they are driven electrically. The forthcoming Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED (Electric Drive) may offer the closest competition to the i3 yet, in terms of price and performance, but does not share the i3’s philosophy and was not designed from the ground up as an electric car. The new A2 would have evolved the original thinking behind the first A2 we see here and featured such novelties as a glass roof that could be made opaque at the press of a button.
So, from a design perspective at least, these two cars share lots in common with the approach and methodology to create the ultimate city car. It is a credit to both Audi and BMW for being brave enough to put them into production. The A2 was launched at a time when premium super-minis were not the order of the day and BMW have launched the i3 at the start of an electric vehicle renaissance. Whether or not it will suffer the same fate as the A2 is questionable but likely. BMW probably never set out for the i3 to be a profit-making car. If they had, they would have played safe and opted for either a conversion of an existing model to electric, as witnessed by the experimental MINI E and ActiveE trials, or by using more conventional materials to keep developmental costs down. Again, parallels may be drawn between the A2 and i3 as the A2 for Audi served as a great model to test out ideas and allow their engineers some playtime. Likewise, the i3 gave BMW designers a blank page from which to begin designing the ultimate city car.
To drive each of these pioneering vehicles gives a sense of being in something special. A2 production stopped in 2005 and it is therefore a fairly rare sight on UK roads. Likewise, the i3 has an exclusive appeal as it is only a couple of years old and the electric drive is a lifestyle choice that doesn’t come cheap or suit everyone – you have to really want an i3 to buy one.
If you’re on a much tighter budget than the purchase of a BMW i3 requires, the decade old Audi A2 is worth a look. The 1.4 TDI is the model to go for in either of its 75 or 90 power levels. Top spec examples, like the car featured in this article, which have an OpenSky glass roof, sat nav computer with screen, 17” Sports alloys and full leather interior rightfully fetch a premium over standard cars without the added extras. It might not be an electric car, but its spirit embodies all you might want from an i3 and due to the second hand values of the A2, even with fuel costs added in, it will take many years to offset the difference in price between them.
The designers of these cars came to similar decisions despite there being a decade separating their choices. The comparison of them is an interesting one in that neither can truly be directly compared, they are different cars after all, but the parallels existing between them are uncanny. Both are great cars and sure to be remembered for their pioneering approach.
i3 & A2 Aggresive i3 styling is certainly distinctive and has won both fans and critics alike. The A2 may not look as striking but, appearances aside, there is no denying the two share lots in common.
A2 INTERIOR Minimal but functional. The Interior could be specced up with additions like sat nav and Bose sound as well as a choice of trim.
ABOVE The 2011 A2 Concept featured electric drive, was to be sold as an EV and PHEV and, before it was cancelled, would have gone on sale in 2015.
REAR VIEW i3 tailgate is a single piece of glass, incorporating lights behind it. Both A2 and i3 share remarkably similar proportions.
i3 INTERIOR The Suite interior trim option features leather tanned by olive leaves. Notice the Kenaf fibre on the upper dashboard and door.
LEFT TO RIGHT FROM FAR LEFT Rear-hinged doors are stylish and make access easier than a 3-door hatch. A small storage space can be found under the bonnet. Column mounted gear selector is chunky. Parking assist offers automated parallel parking. Well lit plug-in socket.
FRAMEWORK Like the A2, the i3 uses aluminium for its chassis. Bolted on top is a carbon fibre ‘cell’.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT A 2004 A2 1.4 TDi, with 17” Sports alloys and OpenSky glass roof. The engine is accessed via removable (not hinged) bonnet. Service panel gave access to oil, dip stick and screen wash.
FACTORY LINE Aluminium was used extensively for the A2, a first for mass manufacture of a super-mini.
MAIN The A2 and the i3 are both four seat cars that aimed to buck the trend.
2004 #Audi-A2-1.4TDI (90) SE
Engine - 1.4 TDI
Power - 90 hp
Max Speed - 115 mph
0-62mph - 10.9 sec
Fuel Tank - 42 litres
Transmission - 5 Spd. Manual
Engine Spec - Common-rail, turbo
Engine CC - 1,422
Torque - 230Nm @ 2000rpm
Fuel Type - Diesel
Economy avg. - 65.7 mpg
CO2 Emissions - 119 g/km
Weight (kerb) - 1,160 kg
Length - 3,826 mm
Width - 1,673 mm
Height - 1,553 mm
Price (June 2004) - £16,410 OTR
Motor - AC
Power - 170 hp
Max Speed - 93 mph
0-62 mph - 7.9 sec
Fuel Tank - 9 litres
Battery - Li-ion 18.8 kWh
EV Range (REx) - 105 miles (+93)
Torque - 250 Nm
Fuel Type - Electricity + petrol
EV Economy - 4.5 m/kWh
(REx avg.) - (470.8 mpg)
CO2 Emissions - 13 g/km
Weight (kerb) - 1,315 kg
Length - 3,999 mm
Width - 1,775 mm
Height - 1,578 mm
Price inc. PICG - £29,130 OTRStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.