Thursday, June 11, 2009

F1: Damon Hill Warns Against Breakaway Series


FORMER WORLD CHAMPION Damon Hill has pleaded for Formula 1 powerbrokers to reach a solution to the current crisis and avoid the prospect of a breakaway series.

Hill believes any moves to form a rival elite category could ultimately prove damaging, citing the fate of open wheel racing in North America following 1996’s CART/Indy Car split.

After Indianapolis Motor Speedway boss Tony George launched the Indy Racing League to compete with Champ Car, interest in open wheel racing plummeted as confusion arose over which series could lay claim to be the premier category in the country.

While the decade long battle for supremacy has finally reached an end following the merger of the IRL and Champ Car, the situation allowed NASCAR to capitalise on the disarray and cement its status as the most popular form of motorsport in the continent.

“You only have to look over the pond to see what happens when you split a championship. It’s difficult enough to draw people into one particular sport, so what will they make of two separate championships? It would just dilute it,” Hill said to Autosport.

Hill said he is also concerned by the trend of waging political battles in the public domain, claiming it could detract from the ultimate spectacle.

“The last few years have been really appalling and lots of people have asked questions about the administration of the sport,” he said.

“That’s what the issue is all about. It’s entertaining in the same way that the Jerry Springer Show is - not for the right reasons - so it’s a turn-off as well.”

Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone

Meanwhile, Formula One Management boss Bernie Ecclestone said he is prepared to take legal action to protect his brand if a breakaway series eventually come to fruition.

Ecclestone warned any attempts to entice existing F1 broadcasters and sponsors across to a FOTA sponsored championship will prompt the start of legal action.

He told Britain’s Daily Express: “If they do try to set up their own series - and I don’t think they will be able to – there are big problems ahead for them.

“Apart from my contracts with teams, if somebody went to any of our contracted people, companies, television contractors, we would view it very seriously.

“That would be inducement to breach contracts and I don’t do that myself, so I won’t stand back and let it happen. Any action could run to hundreds of millions of pounds, who knows how much?”

2009 Hyundai i30cw SX CRDi Manual And i30cw Sportswagon Petrol Automatic Road Test Review


TWENTY YEARS AGO, if you’d said that by 2009 Korean manufacturer Hyundai would be a genuine global automotive force, with tentacles deep into the European, North American, Asian and Australian markets, someone would have said, “…you’re dreamin’ mate.”

Yet here we are: truth is stranger than fiction.

Number two in small car sales in this country, and closing on the Yaris at number one, is the Getz. The highly-awarded i30 is powering along in its segment with sales up 68.7 percent, year to date. Hyundai’s performance and acceptance as a brand is little short of remarkable.

When I was young (not long ago in case you’re wondering), I wasn’t exactly falling over myself to get into a Hyundai. Of course, you couldn’t have prised me into a pair of Dunlop Volleys or a t-shirt from Target either.

But my 21-year-old brother, he doesn’t carry the same brand perceptions. For him, the Hyundai brand is ‘a given’, it has always ‘been here’ as a maker of good value, genuinely competitive, smaller cars. Ones that you might mention in the same breath as a Japanese or Euro brand.

It’s true, Hyundais have always offered value for money, but where was that turning point that made, for instance, a friend’s mother ask me for help in deciding between a Mazda and a Hyundai?

It was the i30 of course.


Sure, the Getz is a great little entry-level purchase, but the i30 represents a new chapter for Hyundai - soon to be followed by the upcoming i20 supermini and joined by the overseas Genesis sedan and Genesis Coupe models.

Now, to make the most of its success with the award-winning i30 hatch, and to give buyers a strong choice in the limited light wagon segment, Hyundai has delivered the i30cw - or ‘crossover wagon’.


Up front, the i30cw carries the same European style (it was designed in Germany) as its hatch counterpart.

The long, slim grille, air intakes and curvy headlights feature across the i30 hatch and wagon range, and each element speaks to the intent of the i30 and i30cw: to take on the likes of the Mazda3, and try to beat it at its own game.


The profile of the i30cw is defined by a strong upward-flowing belt line, its style let down a little by the expanse of blank space between the high rear quarter window and the rear wheel arch.

It’s at the very back that the i30cw comes into its own, where stylish tail lights dominate the visual space, replacing the Mercedes-Benz style units of the i30 hatch. From a purely form-over-function perspective, the rear bumper could stand to be a little taller and the tailgate shorter for a stronger look, but of course, function rules here.


While the SX CRDi wears 16-inch factory wheels clad in simple hub caps, the range-topping petrol Sportswagon gets a set of 17-inch split five-spoke alloy rims, featuring unique polished inserts to the inside of each split spoke; an ‘above and beyond’ design choice that perfectly encapsulates Hyundai’s approach to its entire range, lately.

The Interior

The cabin of the i30cw, like the identical (at least up the front) interior of its hatch sibling, is a very good place to be, regardless of the money.


While the SX’s dash is let down by the absence of any colour but black (”you can have any colour you want, as long as it’s black” …thanks Henry), the petrol Sportswagon benefits from lashings of aluminium-effect plastic on the steering wheel, centre stack and around the leather-wrapped shift knob, which itself gets a dash of chrome.

Sportswagon buyers will be pleased by the good quality leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel with wheel-mounted controls, a welcome premium feel over the SX’s almost ‘commercial van’ fabric seats, plain black dash, rubber gear knob and synthetic steering wheel grip.


The plastics in the interior of both trims are of the same high quality we’ve come to expect from this latest generation of Hyundais, while the dash and door trims offer a soft-touch feel (something that many of the i30’s peers, in the name of penny-pinching, simply aren’t bothering with).

For interior space and comfort, the i30cw is well thought-out and quite appealing. The steering wheel is both height and reach adjustable - as is the driver’s seat - while the seats front and back are better than expected for the i30cw’s price point: comfortable even on long drives, and nicely trimmed in both the SX and the Sportswagon.

The i30cw also offers over 20 storage compartments, including a chilled glovebox, spring-loaded cupholders and four storage bins under the rear floor.


For space, the i30cw offers that in spades - it is, of course, the whole point of the wagon back - with 415 litres of storage with the 60/40 split fold rear seats up, and 1395 litres with them down.

And that’s the i30cw’s main drawcard, really. With such excellent storage capacity and fuel economy that blows away any SUV, the i30cw will be appealing to the family on a budget - or simply mindful of the cost of running an SUV - looking to pack the kids and the luggage into the car and bugger off up the coast for a week.

Riding on a 50mm longer wheelbase means the i30cw’s engineers have delivered not only more storage space, but even more legroom for the rear passengers, more than accommodating for the average adult.


Hyundai acknowledges that the wagon market in Australia (there are 25 wagons available here) amounts to less than one percent of the total market, but Oliver Mann, Hyundai’s General Manager of Marketing, points out that 35 percent of SUV owners don’t use their vehicle’s AWD capability, and that’s exactly the buyer Hyundai is aiming the i30cw at.

Equipment and Features

The SX offers air conditioning, but it’s the range-topping Sportswagon that gets fully automated climate control - an addition which, aside from being a welcome touch, gives the interior a more upmarket feel.

For the Sportswagon, wheel-mounted cruise control comes as standard, and can be optioned in the SX. With a recent spate of roadtrips filling out the calendar, the TMR team has found life without cruise control to be barely a life at all.


A six-speaker sound system, including tweeters, features in the Sportswagon, while the SX gets the requisite four speakers. Both cars offer great sound quality, while the customary iPod integration and auxiliary inputs feature in both trims.

The i30cw Sportswagon also features trip computer with distance to empty, trip distance and instant fuel consumption, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and rear parking sensors as standard, while SX owners must simply learn to live without such luxuries.


For safety, the i30cw comes with ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), ESP and Traction Control as standard. Driver and front passenger airbags are standard in both trims, while driver and front passenger side (thorax) airbags and side curtain airbags are standard in the Sportswagon and available as an option in the SX.

There are also fully-adjustable driver and front passenger active ‘anti-whiplash’ head restraints.

The Drive

With the 1.6 litre turbo diesel’s 255Nm of torque available from a pleasingly low 1900rpm, the i30cw SX CRDi is punchier than its 85kW maximum output - coming in at 4000rpm - would suggest.

It’s deceiving, really: the i30cw weighs in at a relatively portly 1445kg, and 255Nm of torque isn’t much, but it easily cuts the mustard in this little wagon.

But while that maximum torque is available through to about 2800rpm before it begins to drop off, you still need to be mindful of keeping the engine in its sweet spot if overtaking or belting off the line.


It’s when you’re stopped at the traffic lights that the i30cw SX CRDi is betrayed a little by its price point, with the rattle of the diesel more than a little audible. When those pesky pedestrians finish crossing and you get your long-awaited green light, the rattle settles down nicely to a much smoother hum.

While the petrol i30cw Sportswagon we tested was an automatic (and struggled a little if pressed), the SX CRDi was paired with a five-speed manual transmission. Smooth shifts and just the right amount of ‘give’ in the clutch made the manual a joy to drive, reminding us that the Hyundai i30 is every bit as deserving of the praise it’s been receiving.

Officially, the manual i30cw SX CRDi is good for a fuel economy of 4.9 l/100km, and while we couldn’t get the number in the dash to drop below 5.1, we’re not going to complain. Whether it’s 4.9 or 5.1 l/100km, the diesel i30cw is gentle on the wallet.


The first impression of the petrol-drinking i30cw is one of serenity. Inside, windows up, this car is very quiet at idle. The diesel’s no tractor, but the petrol feels a lot more upmarket thanks to its vibration-free nature.

Get underway, and things get a little noisier and the tyres start to roar. The Sportswagon gets the largest wheels in the range – a quartet of surprisingly attractive 17-inch semi-polished alloys – and the low profile tyres do transmit a bit more noise into the cabin. However, despite having shorter sidewalls, handling feels just slightly firmer than the smaller-wheeled i30 variants.

At 105kW and 186Nm, the 2.0 litre petrol four-pot develops more power than the 1.6 litre diesel donk, but much less torque. Peak power is reached at 6000rpm while maximum twist is achieved at 4600rpm, so the petrol needs to be worked harder than the diesel in order to extract its best. However, the petrol’s revvy nature means it is not troubled running around the tachometer.


The four-speed auto may not boast the most impressive number of ratios (just four is a little off the pace), but the shift mapping is intelligent enough to keep the engine on the boil when maximum power is needed and subdued enough for pottering about town.

Having less torque than the diesel means you’ll often find yourself mashing the accelerator to get it to kick down if pressing on - our recommendation would be to save a few dollars and buy the manual instead.


As for fuel consumption, Hyundai reckons the i30cw 2.0 petrol auto needs 7.7 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle. We recorded mid-9s during the time we had the car, but that included urban use and a robust run to the snow… normal driving will produce better figures.

Dynamically, the i30 wagon doesn’t lose much to its hatchback cousin. The i30cw petrol is 44kg heavier than the equivalent i30 hatch and the body is 40mm taller, but you really only notice the extra heft in press-on cornering. As with the hatch, understeer is the result of pushing it too hard but lifting off sharply will tighten the line (especially with the heavier wagon).

The longer wheelbase of the i30cw didn’t appear to have any effect on the handling dynamics, however the larger wheels of the Sportswagon added around half a metre to the i30cw’s turning circle.

The ride is pleasantly supple and well-controlled, and there’s little difference between the front MacPherson struts and multi-link rear suspension used by both hatch and wagon.

The Verdict

Everyone says it, and we’re happy to say it too. The i30cw is a good buy that punches above its weight in just about every department. It’s quite good looking, drives well, and it seems solidly put together.

If it was badged as a Mazda or a Toyota, well, it wouldn’t even matter. Nobody looks at the Hyundai badge the way they used to. The i30cw proves that respect for the marque is well-deserved. Families and younger buyers will find a lot to like about this car.


Our recommendation would be to go the diesel. It is well-priced and the performance edge from the willing ‘oiler’ up front puts it ahead of the slightly breathless petrol model.

Starting at $20,890 for the i30cw SX 2.0 petrol five-speed manual through to the range-topping Sportswagon 2.0 petrol four-speed auto at $29,990 (the SX 1.6 CRDi turbo diesel five-speed manual we tested is $23,390 - all prices before on-road costs), Hyundai’s i30cw is possibly the best value small to medium wagon on the road at the moment.


  • Excellent styling inside and out
  • Extra quiet cabin in the Sportswagon, and quiet enough in the SX
  • Punchy acceleration from the diesel engine


  • Leather of Sportswagon steering wheel lacks ‘premium’ feel
  • Petrol model would benefit from a manual transmission
  • Dash of the SX is a little too ‘commercial van’

The Hulme CanAm, New Zealand’s Supercar


ENGLAND MAY HAVE the speedy Caparo T1, but now Kiwi manufacturer Hulme has introduced the Hulme CanAm to the roads and tracks of New Zealand, and it’s no slouch.

With a top speed that Hulme boss Jock Freemantle swears is the proverbial bee’s… (er)… stinger… away from 200mph (321km/h), the CanAm is whetting the appetites of supercar collectors across Europe and the Middle East.

At around $865,000 and with only 20 to be built each year, the CanAm is a collector’s item for sure.


“We are not taking orders till we have built cars but there are a lot of people wanting one. One of them already has 41 supercars.

“We took it to Saudi Arabia and the royal family offered us a US$1 million for it,” Freemantle told New Zealand paper The Dominion Post.

The Hulme CanAm is powered by a 7.0 litre Corvette V8, sending 447kW to the back wheels via a seven-speed sequential transmission. As for weight, how does 980kg sound? If you said “certifiable”, we’re with you.


Engine & Transmission

Position: mid longitudinal
Configuration: LS7-V8
Valvetrain: OHV 2 valves/cyl
Displacement: 7,000cc
Power: 600hp
Torque: 600nm @ wheels
Bore: 89mm
Stroke: 4 inch
Comp/Ratio: TBA
Redline: 7000rpm
HP/Litre: 85.7
Gear Box: CIMA transaxle
Gear Type: 6-speed sequential
Airbags: N/A

Body & Chassis

Drive Wheels: RWD with limited slip diff
Curb Weight: 980kg
Length: 4,712 mm
Width: 1,958 mm
Height: 1,095 mm
Wheelbase: 2,830 mm
Front Track: 1,665 mm
Rear Track: 1,605 mm
Steering: Progressive power assisted steering
Chassis: Tubular & composite construction
Body: Carbon fibre & composite construction
Front Brakes: AP Racing 6 piston calipers
Front Disc Size: AP Racing 362 mm x 32 mm ventilated
Rear Brakes: AP Racing 6 piston calipers
Rear Disc Size: AP Racing 362 mm x 32 mm ventilated
Front Wheels: 8.5 x 19 inch - centre lock
Rear Wheels: 20 inch - centre lock
Front Tyres: 245 x 40 x 19 Pirelli P.Zerro Rosso
Rear Tyres: 315 x 35 x 20 Pirelli P.Zerro Rosso
Front Suspension: Double wishbone & pushrod, inboard coil over damper & anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension: Double wishbone & pushrod, inboard coil over damper & anti-roll bar

F1: BMW Refusing To Abandon ’09 Campaign


BMW MOTORSPORT BOSS Dr Mario Theissen has ruled out abandoning development on BMW Sauber’s 2009 F1 challenger, despite struggling to remain in touch with this year’s F1 frontrunners.

After securing a debut victory in Canada last year, BMW Sauber seemed poised to make the leap into the F1 elite. Back then, Polish star Robert Kubica was leading the race for the driver’s championship after seven rounds before eventually fading away during the latter stages of the season.

However, BMW Sauber’s encouraging form heightened expectations heading into the 2009 season, prompting many pundits to tip Kubica as a potential rival to Briton Lewis Hamilton in his quest to secure consecutive World Championships.

While a promising performance in Melbourne seemingly justified the hype surrounding the Munich-based outfit, the team has since struggled, falling behind the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull.


Dr Theissen though remains committed to the F1 09 car, refusing to abandon it at such an early stage in the season.

He told the official BMW Sauber website: “”I’m often asked these days if it wouldn’t be better to simply stop working on the enhancement of the F1.09 and fully focus on our 2010 challenger instead.

“But this doesn’t represent an option for us. We won’t give up on the current season - far from it.”

The introduction of the much-awaited double diffuser in Turkey provided the team with a substantial boost in performance, handing Kubica the opportunity to record his first points of the current campaign.

Encouraged by the progress displayed at Istanbul Park, Dr Theissen said his team will continue making amendments in a bid to again begin challenging for podiums.

“We have increased our development pace and will bring significant improvements for the car to every second or third race from now on. Improvements that will also compromise enhanced versions of the twin diffuser,” he said.

“At the end of the season we want to be able to say: We encountered a disappointing start to the season but we succeeded in turning things around and making it back to the front end of the field.”

Hyosung Adds EFI To Motorcycle Range, GT Lineup Gets A Facelift


THE GLOBAL CAR MARKET isn’t the only arena where Korea’s manufacturers have been making huge strides, with motorcycle manufacturers Hyosung and Daelim leading a global motorcycle assault.

In Australia, Hyosung has found considerable success, particularly with the GT250R – a top seller in its category and one of the only road-going fully-faired sports bikes available new in Australia in the 250CC category.

Now, Hyosung has added fuel injection to its entire 250CC and 650CC model range and updated the look of its GT bikes as well.


While the GV250 and GV650 Aquila cruisers retain their classic Harley-inspired styling, EFI has been added to both models, offering what Hyosung promises to be seamless power delivery throughout the rev range.

Hyosung’s GT bikes have all benefited from a styling refresh, with the most obvious improvements coming in the form of a restyled tail with integrated LED tail light and redesigned rear passenger handle.

The number plate holder and rear indicators have also been relocated to a bolt-on mount, similar to that seen on the 2009 Honda CBR600RR.


Improved braking has also been added to the GT650, with four-piston calipers gripping the 300mm semi-floating discs added to the GT650 naked, GT650S and GT650R.

As with the Aquila, the entire GT range now features EFI on its 250CC and 650CC V-Twin engines.

“This is great timing for the Hyosung range. As Australia pulls out of its economic dip, we have a fresh new range for riders both new and experienced,” said Hyosung Australia Brand Manager Simon Gloyne.

“In 2006 and 2007 the Hyosung GT250R was the top selling 250cc road bike in Australia because of its massive package of features and performance for such a low price. Now that package has fresh styling and fuel injection across the entire range, we are aiming for the number one spot again.”


While the 250CCC range is automatically approved for learner riders, the 650CC models can also be ridden by learners under the LAMS program.

The EFI models go on sale this month, with the following recommended price (before statutory and delivery charges):

  • GT250 $5990
  • GT250R $6990
  • GT650 naked $7990
  • GT650S sport tourer $8590
  • GT650R $8990
  • GV250 $5990
  • GV650 $9990

2010 Lexus IS 250C: Hot Stuff, And It’s Coming Here


LEXUS HAS ALREADY released the IS 250C in Japan - its first convertible since the SC430 - now the topless two-door is set to arrive here in the third quarter of this year.

But when it goes on sale, it won’t be the first time the IS convertible has landed on these shores.

Back in early 2008 Lexus sent a number of development mules to the Northern Territory to test the hot-weather performance and durability of the car. They were used to assess, among other things, the IS convertible’s structural rigidity, dust intrusion resistance, climate control performance and driving dynamics.


The climate control system in particular copped the harshest treatment, being left to soak up the sun (roof up, of course) for four hours until interior temps reached a whopping 100 degrees centigrade. To make things extra tough, a black vehicle was used for these tests.

Wind buffeting with the roof down was also tested, as was body flex with the roof both deployed and retracted.

The dusty roads of the Northern Territory made an ideal test-bed to evaluate the car’s weather sealing - an important test for a hardtop convertible, considering the many joints and openings necessitated by the roof assembly.


The result of all that testing is a car that Lexus says is one of the best-built in its class.

Lexus Australia says it will continue to sell the venerable SC 430 after the IS 250C arrives, but given the SC is nearly nine years old (and showing its age), it’s a no-brainer that the IS 250C will quickly take over as Lexus’s most desirable two-door.

Local specification and pricing has yet to be announced, but as with the IS sedan, Australia-bound cars will only come with Lexus’ 2.5 litre V6, and not the 3.5 litre V6 available in the USA.