Saturday, June 28, 2008

Citroën C5 Tourer (08 on)

As far as stylish estate cars go, few can rival the good-looking C5 Tourer. The sharp lines are a stark contrast to the dull shape of the previous model and the C5 shows that Citroen has rediscovered its flair for unusual and striking design. But that hasn't come at the expense of practicality. There's a massive 1,500-litres of boot space, while rear passenger room is good too. The C5's real strengths, however, are its superb levels of comfort and refinement which make it a great long distance car. A vastly improved interior, generous equipment levels and a range of excellent diesel engines make it even more attractive.

There's a good choice of petrol and diesel engines in the C5 Tourer range. The entry-level engine is the 1.8-litre petrol with 127bhp while the more powerful 143bhp 2.0-litre unit is available with an optional four-speed automatic gearbox. Both offer adequate performance but they're outshone by the excellent range of diesels. First up is the 1.6HDi with 110bhp which although not particularly quick, returns 50mpg. However our choice is the 138bhp 2.0HDi which offers better in-gear punch for overtaking and is almost as frugal. For even more pace there's also a 2.2HDi unit with 173bhp while the range-topping model is the 2.7-litre V6 diesel with 208bhp.

Like the saloon the C5 Tourer is happiest cruising on the motorway where it will cover long distances with minimal fuss and maximum comfort. The Citroen is unusual as it comes with a choice of two different suspension settings - entry-level SX models are conventional but higher spec models come with a 'hydropneumatic' self-levelling system designed to give added comfort. Most buyers will find it difficult to notice any difference but the air suspension does have a 'sport' setting which firms things up for more twisting roads. There's still some body roll in corners but the C5 corners with confidence and offers plenty of grip. It's a shame that the steering feels overly light but this does make town driving and tight manoeuvres a doddle.

This is the C5's forte. Like Citroen's of old it majors on ride comfort, soaking up potholes and bumps with ease to produce a magic carpet-like ride. This makes it superb on the motorway where passengers will appreciate the lack of wind and road noise - helped by the acoustic windscreen and multiple door seals. Compared to the old model, the new C5 certainly feels more refined. The seats are soft yet supportive while passengers in the back get generous head and leg room.
Citroën C5 C5 Tourer Citroën C5 C5 Tourer Citroën C5 C5 Tourer Citroën C5 C5 Tourer

With the rear seats in place the C5 Tourer offers a decent 505 litres of boot space - that's larger than the Peugeot 407 SW although not as big as the cavernous Ford Mondeo Estate. The luggage area is wide and easy to access thanks to a large opening, although there's an annoying load lip and no underfloor storage areas. Lowering the rear seats could be easier too - there's no lever in the boot so the only way to fold them is by leaning in through the rear doors. Once folded, the boot capacity increases to almost 1500 litres while the suspension can be cleverly raised or lowered to make loading heavy items easier. An electric tailgate is also available but while it's a handy feature it's not particularly quick and can't be manually overridden.
Citroën C5 C5 Tourer Citroën C5 C5 Tourer Citroën C5 C5 Tourer Citroën C5 C5 Tourer

The C5 received a five star Euro NCAP crash test rating. This is the maximum score, although anything less than the top score would be considered poor for this type of car. Seven airbags come as standard, including side, curtain knee airbags) while two extra rear side airbags can be specified as options. Stability control and electronic brakeforce distribution (which automatically varies the amount of braking on each wheel depending) are both standard plus there are three Isofix points (two in the back and one for the front passenger seat). On the security side, there's an alarm, deadlocks and laminated glass to help prevent break-ins.

The original C5 launched in 2001 did not have a good reputation for reliability. A significant facelift in 2004 brought improvements in build quality, but overall it lagged behind the competition. The latest version feels much better built, uses proven diesel engines and is far better trimmed inside. This should translate into improved reliability, though time will tell if this is actually the case.

Buyers who have previously bought a C5 may find that the incentives and discounts on offer aren't as generous as before - the 'premium feel' of the C5 means it won't be sold as a bargain basement car. You're still likely to be able to negotiate a deal or at least get some extras included in the final price. That said the C5 is good value with generous levels of equipment and competitive list prices. Buy a new C5 Tourer and save 19% on selected models

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Quality Cars

Of course if they do prep the car prior to wash it slows the speed, cuts down the volume of cars that can be washed in the day and changes the consistency of each car washed due to the human element. Now, if you are looking at new cars, is buying or leasing a better option for you.

By 1914, he was building more cars in one day than most competitors could build in one year. By downplaying the appearance of the cars-calling them "wrecks" he allowed the media to expect dented, scratched, beat-up cars. By cleverly designing their buildings, they can stack 10-12 cars between the order point and pickup, so the customer waits 3 minutes but moves every 18 seconds so time flies by. I had names for my cars and machines and an uncommon ability to repair them. Cars have changed a lot over the years and my uncle wants someone who can not only turn a wrench, but be able to read a computer. If you have purchased energy efficient cars or heating/cooling devices make sure you claim this credit on your income tax.

Well really there are many things they can do, from giving out coupons to senior citizens, for 80% off to free detailing for the local church who has cars donated to them to sell. You may have a great idea for flying cars, but if consumers are not ready for your product you may not be able to turn your idea into a successful business. After gathering this information, he started taking me in the direction of the jeeps and sports cars.

For example, if you were selling big, gas-guzzling cars, you would stress the comfort, luxury interiors, prestige, reliability and smooth riding capacity of the car. That's why many automobile makers design cars that are categorized as "woman cars".

Soli Kator

Sunday, June 15, 2008

BMW GINA Light Visionary Model Concept

Have you ever wondered what might result from a three-night hook-up between a zeppelin, an original BMW 507, and a BMW Z4 roadster? Neither have we, but now that we’ve seen the BMW GINA concept (pronounced jee-nah), we’ve got a pretty good idea, and it’s even sort of beautiful.

GINA is an acronym for “Geometry and Functions in ‘N’ Adaptations,” where the N stands for infinite—as if the acronym wasn’t enough of a stretch already. It’s a fancy way to summarize a way of thinking about how cars will be shaped, manufactured, and used by their owners in the future. The Light Visionary Model (LVM) is a physical manifestation of this idea, and features some innovative—and out there—approaches to making the philosophy a reality.

BMW says that this concept isn’t just about the styling of the car of the future, but also about the “creative freedom” offered to designers and engineers alike. To that end, this concept wears a fabric “skin” comprised of a wire-mesh inner stabilizing layer and a water- and temperature-resistant outer layer.

Instead of the usual myriad body panels, the LVM has just four outer elements: one that covers the entire front end and runs to the rear edge of the doors, two rear-quarter coverings, and one across the rear deck. BMW’s seat designers helped with the precise measurement, cutting, and attachment of the material, which is stretched over a mechanized electric and electro-hydraulic metal and carbon frame.

Wait—What’s Going On Here?

The headlamps are hidden until the driver turns them on, only instead of popping up cheesily, like an ’80s Pontiac Firebird, the skin opens to reveal BMW’s traditional round lights. Not that anything needs to open to see the light; the turn signals and taillights operate behind the fabric, shining through when activated. The eight-cylinder engine hides under a 1.6-foot-long slit that opens and closes in a manner that BMW likens to the top of an old-fashioned doctor’s bag.

As the fabric’s surface area doesn’t change as the structure shimmies beneath, something’s gotta give. In the case of opening the doors, the fabric piles up in planned and prearranged folds; when the BMW kidney grille widens to swallow more air, the side panels tense and add another character line.

Yes, Even the Seats are Weird

The LVM is as adaptable inside. The material from the rear deck runs over the rear bulkhead and covers the two seats, which only move into prime position once someone sits in them; at that point, a headrest rises and the rest of the interior readies itself for action by moving the steering wheel and gauges into place from what BMW calls an “idle position.”

BMW says that vehicles with this sort of adaptive functionality will help forge a stronger emotional bond between man and machine, and that the GINA philosophy will allow manufacturers to make cars with less model-specific tooling and hardware. Beyond the pragmatic implications that the GINA LVM represents for manufacturing and design, though, it also represents a return to the fanciful future-car stuff that dominated auto-show turntables of the 1950s and 1960s. Today, production-ready “concepts” only teach people to dream into next month, not next century. The LVM is weird, bizarre—and forward-thinking. And for that, we like it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

250 Cars -- Owned By One Guy -- Hit The Block

250 lots in one classic car auction is impressive, but is not, in and of itself, big news. 250 lots from one single collection? Yes, that would be big news in the collector car atmosphere. And by the by, they are offered at No Reserve, which means each and every one will find a new owner on June 28 and 29.


Who is this guy? He's Art Astor, a well-known SoCal entertainment doyen, primarily radio and broadcast. Why is he selling his flock? The handsome, Xacto knife-sharp Astor has a simple answer: "I'm cutting down. I'm not getting any younger and I still love cars, but have too many. It's gotten to be a lot of work, and now takes a lot of space just to house it all"


"Cutting down" to Astor means he's reducing his approximately 325 car fleet to "just 75. Or so." The sale will be handled by RM Auctions, the folks that, a few weeks ago, shifted the ex-James Coburn Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder for nearly $11,000,000. The offerings are wonderfully varied. There isn't much from the brass era, but some pieces from the 20s, more from the 30s, and a ton of 40s, 50s, and 60s machines.


Astor shows a particular penchant for Fords, but there are some rocking Caddies, Chevys, Lincolns, Packards, and a few celeb pieces. Like sports cars? There are Jags, Mercedes SLs, Morgans, and others from which to choose. Ponies? Several Mustangs and Camaros, plus a Challenger R/T (Plum Crazy, of course...). Celeb cars? Names that pop up in the catalog range from Admiral Nimitz to Richard Carpenter. Want to own the very last Corvair built? Here's your chance. It's all original, with less than 1000 miles on the clock.


Besides the variety and eclectic nature of the offerings, I like the level of quality. There are a few solid concours pieces, many more in strong #2 condition, plus plenty "driver" level #3s, and nothing that qualifies as junk. And not all are high priced, fully optioned, super rare pieces here (although several are). So, some will be jewels in their future owners collections; others will make nice semi-classic drivers. All are driven regularly. Not every car in these photos will be in the sale, by the way. The winnowing was still in process on the day these pix were taken.


This deal is going to be a hootenanny, let me tell you. I'll be there, and if you're near Anaheim, California, that weekend, you should too. Get the details, and review the entire on-line catalog, at


Thursday, June 5, 2008

2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage

By David Gluckman

Since its introduction in 2006, Aston's V8 Vantage has always ranked highly with our staff. Indeed, in 2007 we named it an Automobile Magazine All-Star. A great car, but there's always room for improvement, right?

And our biggest gripe was a lack of power. For 2009, the V8 Vantage will finally get the guts it deserves and attempt to shut us up once and for all - well, once would be a start.

As you might have guessed from the name, the V8 Vantage still sports an eight-cylinder. It also remains front mid-mounted but sees its displacement grow from 4.3 to 4.7 liters - made possible by a switch from cast-in to pressed-in cylinder liners. Horsepower is now up to 420 from 380, while torque climbs 15 percent to 347 lb-ft. That should do nicely.

The transmissions have been altered for that increased output, with both the standard manual and Sportshift automated manual getting a modified clutch and flywheel, respectively. That translates to improved responsiveness from a reduction in rotating mass and, for models with a third pedal, should mean reduced clutch effort. Sportshift models also get new programming that allows you to choose from Comfort or Sports mode, depending on your intentions for the car on any particular journey.

And that journey will start in a decidedly more high-tech way. Aston has chosen to fit the ECU (that's 'emotional control unit') first seen on the DBS, in place of a more traditional, this-century key. Our recent test of a DBS (Running Scared, July 2008) revealed that the ECU is more gimmick than convenience. The Vantage's cockpit gets a bit of a makeover as well, borrowing the look of its die-cast zinc alloy center console from big brother DBS, which we found to be a bit busy looking. (These changes will soon migrate to the DB9 as well). We will, however, welcome the new hard disk-based navigation system and standard iPod integration.

Standard suspension also gets an update with revised geometry and standard Bilstein dampers, as well as changes that were first introduced on the Roadster now moving to the Coupe as well. A new optional Sports Pack includes different Bilsteins, 19-inch lightweight five-spoke alloy wheels, and stiffer springs. Non-Sports Pack cars also get a new 20-spoke, 19-inch wheel design.

The 2009 V8 Vantage will be available toward the end of the year. Oh, and aside from the wheels, exterior styling is unchanged. No complaints here.