New: Volvo XC90

  • World first auto brake when turning in front of an oncoming vehicle
  • World first solution focusing on accidental road departure
  • Most advanced standard safety package on the market
  • Automatically follows vehicle in front in slow-moving queues
  • Five times more Ultra High Strength Steel (boron steel) than first-generation XC90

Volvo Cars’ all-new XC90 – which will be revealed in August – will offer the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated standard safety package available in the automotive industry. The new technologies will take the company a significant step closer to its vision that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.

The standard safety package on the all-wheel drive, seven seat premium SUV will include two world first safety technologies: a run-off road protection package and auto brake at intersection capability. These innovations will form part of a suite of safety features that will make the all-new XC90 one of the safest cars ever made.

“Our starting point on safety is the same today as it was 87 years ago: real-life situations,” says Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Group. “We study data. We crunch numbers. We innovate. The result is one of the safest cars ever made.”

World first number 1: Run-off road protection

Run-off road is a common accident type with different causes, such as driver distraction, fatigue or poor weather conditions. For example, half of all traffic fatalities in the United States are road departure accidents, while in Sweden, single-vehicle accidents involve one third of all fatal and severe injury crashes with passenger cars.

Volvo XC90 Bodyshell

Volvo is deeply troubled by these statistics. Even though there are currently no regulatory or rating tests to examine a car’s ability to handle run-off road accidents, the company has decided to develop the technology to protect occupants should these situations occur.

“Committing to safety is not about passing a test or getting a ranking,” says Prof. Lotta Jakobsson, Senior Technical Specialist Safety at Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “It is about finding out how and why accidents and injuries occur and then developing the technology to prevent them. We lead, the industry follows.”

Volvo Cars developed Safe Positioning to address these situations.

The Safe Positioning capability means that in a run-off road scenario, the all-new Volvo XC90 detects what is happening and the front safety belts are tightened to keep the occupants in position. The belts are firmly tightened as long as the car is in motion.

To help prevent spine injuries, energy-absorbing functionality between the seat and seat frame cushions the vertical forces that can arise when the car encounters a hard landing in the terrain. The solution is capable of reducing the vertical occupant forces by up to one third. This counteracts spine injuries, which are serious and relatively frequent consequences of these situations.

The XC90 also features technologies that help the driver avoid run-off road scenarios:

The Lane Keeping Aid applies extra steering torque if the car is about to leave the lane unintentionally, while Driver Alert Control, which is also standard, detects and warns tired or inattentive drivers. It even has Rest Stop Guidance, which directs the driver to the nearest rest area. 

World first number 2: Auto brake at intersections

The XC90 is the first car in the world with technology that features automatic braking if the driver turns in front of an oncoming car. This is a common scenario at busy city crossings as well as on highways, where the speed limits are higher. The all-new Volvo XC90 detects a potential crash and brakes automatically in order to avoid a collision or mitigate the consequences of a crash.

“These two world firsts are further examples of how new technologies target substantial real-life traffic problems. This strategy moves us closer and closer to our ambition that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo,” says Prof. Lotta Jakobsson.

Broad range of Safety features for the all-new XC90

There is a wide range of other safety innovations available on the all-new XC90. They include the following:

Pre-crash protection in rear impacts

Rearward facing radars detect if a rear impact is imminent and safety belts are tightened in advance in order to keep the occupant in a good position. Lights also start flashing to warn the driver behind, and the brakes are activated to help reduce the impact on the occupants.

Together with Volvo Cars’ new seat design, which integrates the next generation of the ground-breaking Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), this new holistic rear impact pre-crash function helps reduce whiplash injuries.

Ground-breaking roll-over prevention and protection

The all-new XC90 comes with the latest generation Roll Stability Control as standard. The system uses advanced sensors to calculate the risk of rolling over. If the risk is assessed as high, engine torque is restricted and some braking force is applied to one or more wheels to counteract the roll-over tendency.

If a roll-over is inevitable, the Inflatable Curtains are activated. They cover all three seat rows for an extended period of time to help prevent head injuries.

All seven seats in the XC90 have pyrotechnical safety belt pre-tensioners that also activate in roll-over situations.

City Safety auto braking functions

City Safety will become the umbrella name for all of Volvo Cars’ auto brake functions – which are standard equipment in the all-new XC90.

The purpose of the new collision avoidance system is to assist the driver in case there is a high risk of collision with another vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist through an intuitive warning strategy and a brake support system. If a collision is almost unavoidable, the system will provide autonomous braking when the driver fails to respond to the imminent threat.

Volvo XC90

“City Safety is one of the most advanced standard crash prevention offers you can find in a modern car. It now covers vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians in front of the car, day and night,” explains Lotta Jakobsson. “We are now able to cover the whole span from dusk to dawn by a smarter and faster high-sensitive camera combined with advanced exposure control.”

Extended Road Sign Information

The XC90 is the first car on the market with Road Sign Information technology as standard. It has been further enhanced to show an extended selection of road signs in the digital display in front of the driver, such as various types of supplementary signs.

Covers the blind spots

The Blind Spot Information System informs about vehicles in the blind spots. It also alerts the driver to vehicles that are approaching fast from behind.

Queue Assist

Queue Assist enables safe and comfortable driving by following the vehicle in front in slow-moving queues. Acceleration, braking and steering are controlled automatically.

“Distraction and inattentiveness are the most common cause of accidents in modern traffic. The Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist makes driving safer and more relaxed in monotonous stop-and-go traffic by adding steering assistance to the speed adaption,” explains Prof. Lotta Jakobsson.

Stronger in every sense

To help keep the occupant space inside intact in a crash, the all-new XC90 has literally been made stronger in every sense. This is achieved by more extensive use of hot-formed boron steel, which is the strongest type of steel presently used in the car body industry.

The complete safety cage around the occupants is made from hot-formed boron steel and is designed for maximum occupant protection in all types of crash scenarios. The hot-formed steel amounts to about 40 per cent of the total body weight.

“This is approximately five times more than the first generation XC90. To our knowledge, this high usage of high-strength steel is unique compared with our competitors,” says Prof. Lotta Jakobsson.

Vision 2020

Volvo Cars’ vision is to design cars that should not crash. In the short term, the aim is that by 2020 no one should be killed or injured in a new Volvo car. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that some 1.2 million people are killed and more than 50 million wounded in traffic accidents every year. These figures are expected to increase rapidly if no action is taken. Volvo is determined to take the lead by using its vision of a collision-free future as a guiding principle.

The Volvo Cars Traffic Accident Research Team has investigated traffic accidents since 1970. Today, its accident database contains information about 43,400 accidents.

Volvo XC90 instruments

By using knowledge from real traffic situations in the research, Volvo has learned how to design cars that offer a very high level of safety in collisions. The company regards this as a very important base of knowledge when identifying high-tech solutions that can help to avoid or mitigate accidents entirely. In order to take this a step further, the Traffic Accident Research Team not only studies crashed cars but also investigates driving scenarios, including driver behaviour, in order to learn more about what can lead to hazardous traffic situations.

  • Automatic bay parking as well as parallel parking
  • The driver gets a bird’s-eye view from above the car

Designed around modern car buyers’ expectations of smart functionality, the all-new Volvo XC90 features a set of innovative solutions that make tricky parking situations and manoeuvring in tight spaces easy.

The IntelliSafe support technologies include an extended Park Assist Pilot, which now also offers automatic reversing into a parking bay as well as entering and exiting a parallel parking spot. The XC90 can also display a digitally created bird’s-eye view of the 360° area around the car on the large centre screen.

“Several studies by research institutes reveal that up to two-thirds of interviewed motorists feel uncomfortable in tight parking situations. Options such as the extended Park Assist Pilot and bird’s-eye view function turn these potentially stressful situations into comfortable, precise and safe manoeuvring,” says Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Group.

The further-developed Park Assist Pilot facilitates both parallel and bay parking by taking over and operating the steering wheel while the driver handles the gearbox and controls the car’s speed.

Ultrasonic sensors detect the parking space

The parking manoeuvre is based on information from twelve ultrasonic sensors around the car. When the driver activates the Park Assist Pilot in a parallel parking situation, the sensors start to scan the side of the car for empty parking slots. When a parking slot measuring a minimum of 1.2 times the car’s length is detected, the driver is notified by an audible signal and a message in the instrument cluster. In a bay parking situation, the slot needs to be the width of the car plus one metre.

The display then guides the driver step by step via texts and animations in the instrument cluster until the car is parked.

A bird’s-eye view from above the car

The all-new XC90 also features a 360° Surround View that gives the driver a bird’s-eye view, an overview of the surrounding area, seen from a point above the car.

This bird’s-eye view is enabled by four concealed fish-eye cameras – one integrated into the front, one integrated in each of the door mirrors and one fitted above the rear number plate.

The 360° Surround View also gives the driver comfortable access to other views of the surrounding area such as front, rear and side views.

“The 360° Surround View is exceptionally useful in situations where the driver’s direct view is obstructed, such as leaving a tight driveway with obstacles on the sides or when reversing towards a trailer or caravan,” says Peter Mertens. “360° Surround View also provides great support during parking, for instance when you want to make sure that all parts of the car are within the lines of a parking spot.”

Cross Traffic Alert

The outstanding IntelliSafe solutions in the all-new XC90 also include Cross Traffic Alert, which covers the driver’s back when reversing out of a parking space. It warns of approaching traffic up to 30 metres on each side, alerting the driver with an audible signal and a warning on the centre screen.

Baja Aragón: Dakar champion Joan “Nani” Roma wins in front of three more Mini ALL4 Racing

In his striking yellow MINI ALL4 Racing, Joan “Nani” Roma (ES) has won the sixth round of the 2014 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. After four demanding special stages and 666.13 competitive kilometres during the 2014 Baja Aragón the Spaniard and his co-driver Michel Périn (FR) claimed the victory for the Monster Energy X-raid Team ahead of team-mates Orlando Terranova/Moi Torrallardona (AR/ES), Martin Kaczmarski/Tappio Suominen (PL/FI) and the current World Cup leader Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RU/RU) who were also competing in MINI ALL4 Racing cars.

Mini All4 Racing

For Roma, who won the 2014 Dakar Rally in the MINI ALL4 Racing, it was also the fourth Baja Aragón victory of his career and a successful repeat of his 2013 Baja Aragón victory. “The Baja Aragón is always something special,” said Roma. “It is a home race for me, but in 2009 it was also the first rally I did for the X-raid Team – and I won it right away. Last year, it also was a trouble-free event for me. So being able to repeat last year’s victory definitely feels good.” With three consecutive Dakar Rally victories to its name, the MINI ALL4 Racing which is based on the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman was able to put his trademark strengths on display again during the Baja Aragón. Reliablility, speed and durability were the keys to success on the demanding gravel roads in the northeast of Spain.

After a mixed start into the rally when Roma finished eighth, the reigning Dakar champion quickly bounced back on the first special stage by being the fastest driver of the 61 starters which also got the Spaniard the overall lead. On special stages 2 and 3 he continued to convincingly extend his lead to 1:37.0 minutes on his team-mate Terranova. During the fourth and final special stage Roma decided to take a controlled approach to ensure the victory. In the World Cup’s overall standings Vasilyev and the MINI brand (183 points) hold a commanding lead over Yazeed Al-Rajhi/Timo Gottschalk (QT/DE, 120 points), who had to retire on special stage 2 of the event, in second and Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QT/FR, 114 points) in third who finished the Baja Aragón eighth. The next World Cup event is the 2014 Baja Hungary (14/08 – 17/08).

Modelling the Nürburgring Nordschleife

The infamous Nordschleife circuit at the Nürburgring has now been modelled so accurately that for the first time vehicle manufacturers and motorsport teams can conduct representative driver-in-the-loop engineering simulations of vehicle dynamics at the circuit.

Specialist software company rFpro has modelled the entire Nordschleife circuit at the Nürburgring, Germany, with an accuracy never before achieved. The data has been incorporated into the company’s latest simulation software, TerrainServer, and allows real chassis engineering development in a virtual environment with every bump, kerb, ripple and camber from the actual track.

Nordschleife Modelling

LIDAR laser imaging technology resolves the entire track surface (over 250,000 m2) in 3D with an accuracy better than 1mm in Z (height) and 1cm in X and Y (position)

“Established simulator technology is fine for driver training in terms of which way the corners go but limited for use in vehicle development,” explained rFpro’s technical director, Chris Hoyle. “Our model of the Nordschleife sets a new standard, enabling customers to carry out suspension tuning or the development of chassis systems such as stability control with a simulator, and arrive at the circuit with a better optimised package.”

Over four man-years of effort were required just to update the graphics to support the new model, indicating the scale of the engineering achievement in mapping such a long circuit (over 20.8km). Surveying was carried out by 3D Mapping Solutions GmbH with state-of-the-art phase-based LIDAR laser imaging technology resolving the entire track surface (over 250,000 m2) in 3D with an accuracy better than 1mm in Z (height) and 1cm in X and Y (position). This represents a ten-fold improvement over the resolution previously available.

Having an accurate digital circuit model of a track that you visit regularly provides benefits both for your real car testing and for your simulation, according to Hoyle. “Simulation is nothing without correlation against real test data in order to update and improve the mathematical vehicle models,” he said. “At the same time, simulation allows more effective preparation for the real tests so vehicle developers can achieve more during their test window; essentially the two approaches benefit each other.”  Back at base, on the simulator, OEMs also benefit from the ability to speed up development by testing all year round, 24 hours a day, regardless of weather or track availability, on a consistent and repeatable road surface, and from improved confidentiality through keeping secret prototypes hidden until later in the development cycle.

The method of data capture, using technology mounted on a small SUV, means the process can also be applied to public roads, whether urban, rural or inter-city highways, allowing vehicle makers to simulate specific road surface types and features. This means new models can be evaluated over the kinds of terrain found in different continents, ensuring compatibility with specific market conditions long before physical prototypes exist.

During 2013 rFpro built a total of 402km of digital circuit models for their simulator clients, including proving grounds, test tracks, race tracks and public roads.  Since 2007 rFpro has captured and modelled over 50 circuits and test tracks and thousands of kilometres of public road to incorporate in its library of models for use with TerrainServer.

About rFpro

rFpro is a specialist software company that has developed driver-in-the-loop simulators for vehicle dynamics applications, offering the fastest video and audio pipelines, an architecture for soft-real-time model execution and an optically correct off-platform vision system optimised for motion profiles suited to ride and handling development. This specialised area of driver-in-the-loop simulation is all about closing the loop through the driver and the vehicle model as quickly as possible while delivering a high quality and immersive environment.

To deliver complete DIL simulators for the engineering development of vehicle dynamics, and the control systems and active safety systems that affect vehicle dynamics, rFpro works in partnership with motion platform providers such as McLaren, Ansible Motion and MOOG. The company’s products can wrap around vehicle models from all the popular modelling environments, including Dymola, SIMPACK, Simulink, AVL-VSM, CarSim, CarMaker, LMS AMESim, VI-Grade and C/C++.

New: BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

The launch of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer sees BMW bringing the functionality of space and comfort, combined with hallmark BMW dynamics, style and elegance, to the premium compact class. Offering generous levels of space within impressively compact dimensions (length: 4,342mm, width: 1,800mm, height: 1,555mm), the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer represents the perfect response to increasingly exacting mobility requirements.

BMW 218d

New turbocharged engines with three and four cylinders, a comprehensive package of BMW EfficientDynamics measures and the extensive connectivity provided by BMW ConnectedDrive ensure a driving experience defined by sporting ability and exemplary efficiency.

Dynamism and functionality of space brought together in classic BMW fashion.
Conscious of the need to meet the high level of spaciousness, variability and functionality demanded in the premium compact class, BMW has given the 2 Series Active Tourer a sophisticated front-wheel-drive system capable of delivering the degree of driver engagement expected of the brand’s models. Together with the long wheelbase of 2,670mm and raised roofline, this configuration enables the room inside to be maximised, resulting in an unprecedented feeling of spaciousness. Driver and front passenger enjoy a far higher seating position than in a sedan, which affords a commanding all-round view at the same time as making it easier to get in and out. The wealth of storage facilities and the option of a fold-flat passenger seat backrest are just two examples of the interior’s impressive flexibility and cleverly devised layout. The cabin has a light and spacious feel to it, with all surfaces horizontally structured in a layered look. There is also the option of a large panoramic roof that lets light flood into the interior.

BMW 225i

The brand identity with its overriding sense of dynamism is clearly present in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer too. It shines through in trademark features such as the slightly forward-slanting BMW kidney grille at the front end flanked by the distinctive twin circular headlights. The short front overhang in particular is highly unusual for a front-wheel-drive car, and is just as much a classic BMW styling cue as the short overhang at the rear, the long wheelbase, the Hofmeister kink in the rear side windows and the L-shaped rear lights. Crisp contours and an eye-catching swage line at the sides give added impact to the wheel arches and inject the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with forward thrust even when stationary. Moving inside, the controls for the radio, air conditioning and air vents are angled towards the driver in another unmistakable BMW design trait.

Maximum versatility and functionality.
The versatile luggage compartment, whose capacity can be enlarged from 468 to 1,510 litres, and the 40:20:40 split-folding rear backrest fitted as standard exemplify this model’s excellent everyday practicality. Flexibility is further enhanced by a sliding rear seat which allows legroom in the rear or the load compartment capacity to be increased as required. One particularly smart touch is the foldable boot floor that conceals a storage compartment with a handy multifunction tray. The rear backrest can be adjusted as an option to offer either added comfort for the three rear seats or extra luggage space. Access to the luggage compartment couldn’t be easier thanks to the large, broad, wide-opening tailgate. This can be optionally specified with pushbutton automatic opening and closing or – for supreme ease – touchless gesture control.

Latest-generation engines running on three or four cylinders.
The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is being launched with a choice of three powerful, light and fuel-efficient three and four-cylinder drive units that form part of a new generation of engines. They are installed transversely and boast a compact design along with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, at the same time as complying with the EU6 emissions standard.

The new three-cylinder petrol unit stands out for its exceptional efficiency and great performance abilities. This cutting-edge powerplant is receiving its premiere in a model from the BMW core brand in the guise of the BMW 218i Active Tourer (fuel consumption combined: 5.2–4.9 l/100 km [54.3–57.6 mpg imp]; CO2 emissions combined: 120–115 g/km) with six-speed manual gearbox.

The engine has a displacement of 1.5 litres, generates 100kW/136PS and excels with its spontaneous throttle response, hearty appetite for revs and high pulling power. The design of three-cylinder engines means they are not subject to first and second-order inertia forces, while the balancer shaft included on the BMW unit ensures that it operates even more smoothly over the entire rev range.

Topping the bill at market launch is the BMW 225i Active Tourer (fuel consumption combined: 6.0–5.8 l/100 km [47.1–48.7 mpg imp]; CO2 emissions combined: 139–135 g/km)* with a standard-fitted eight-speed Steptronic gearbox. With an output of 170kW/231PS, a time of 6.6 seconds for the 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) dash and a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph), the model’s four-cylinder engine raises the bar for dynamic performance in its class.

Hard at work under the bonnet of the BMW 218d Active Tourer (fuel consumption combined: 4.3–4.1 l/100 km [65.7–68.9 mpg imp]; CO2 emissions combined: 114–109 g/km)* is a four-cylinder diesel engine. A member of the same new engine family as its two petrol counterparts, it delivers 110kW/150PS while mustering up peak torque of 330Nm. This powerpack serves to reaffirm the exceptionally dynamic performance qualities of diesel engines from BMW, propelling the BMW 218d Active Tourer with standard six-speed manual gearbox from standstill to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 208 km/h (129 mph). An eight-speed Steptronic gearbox will be available as an option for this model variant.

The BMW among front-wheel-drive cars.
Like all BMW models, the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer makes its mark with great driving dynamics and the sort of driving experience the brand is renowned for. The newly developed chassis, comprising a single-joint spring strut axle at the front and a multi-link rear axle, combines agility and directional precision with excellent handling stability and suspension comfort. The front drive axle in the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has undergone extensive fine-tuning, ensuring that it endows the car with optimum driving dynamics and wonderfully precise steering feedback. The electromechanical steering and the system’s functional arrangement combine to produce a driving sensation that is devoid of interfering torque steer.

The intelligent use of high-tensile and ultra-high-tensile multi-phase steels makes a decisive contribution to safety standards in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, while also helping to keep the vehicle’s weight down. Apart from being a crucial factor in the model’s exceptional driving dynamics, this lightweight engineering is just one among many BMW EfficientDynamics technology elements. These also include the Auto Start Stop function, Brake Energy Regeneration, Optimum Gearshift Indicator, on-demand operation of ancillary units and the integral Air Curtain, which uses two vertical air inlets in the front bumper to direct the airstream along the front wheels.

Five model variants designed to meet individual customer requirements.
In addition to the standard model, BMW also offers the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer in four other variants with an interior, exterior and specification tailored even more closely to customer requirements. Standard equipment for the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer already comprises the Radio Professional including a hands-free telephone facility with Bluetooth interface, the BMW iDrive control system with controller on the centre console and 6.5-inch Control Display, a rain sensor and automatic headlight activation, a sports leather steering wheel, the Intelligent Emergency Call system and Collision Warning with City Braking function. The Advantage, Sport Line and Luxury Line variants also feature two-zone automatic climate control, Park Distance Control at the rear, front foglamps, cruise control with braking function and a multifunction steering wheel.

The Sport Line model highlights the dynamic character of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with special alloy wheels and sports seats. The high-gloss black kidney grille bars, model-specific air intakes and the accent strip on the rear apron underline the car’s presence. And in keeping with the look, the exhaust tailpipe comes in an electroplated black chrome finish.

The Luxury Line model majors on elegance and exclusivity, as underlined by subtle chrome applications for the exterior before you climb aboard and the exquisite leather trim including heated seats for the driver and front passenger once inside.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer will also be available with the M Sport specification from the end of 2014. With its M aerodynamics package, High-gloss Shadow Line trim, M Sport suspension, 17 or 18-inch M light-alloy wheels, M leather steering wheel and sports seats with bespoke upholstery, the M Sport model of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer displays unbeatable road presence. The launch of the M Sport model will coincide with the addition to the range of variants equipped with the intelligent all-wheel-drive system xDrive. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer will be available in Germany from 27 September 2014 priced from €27,200.

High degree of connectivity for enhanced safety and comfort.
Standards of safety and comfort aboard the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer are boosted by the assistance systems and various infotainment features that are collectively known as BMW ConnectedDrive. Take, for instance, the Traffic Jam Assistant, which works using a mono camera. It makes motorway driving less stressful under monotonous conditions: in dense traffic at speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph) it lets the car “go with the flow”, enabling the driver to progress through the congestion in a more relaxed state. It automatically maintains the desired distance from the vehicle ahead and autonomously controls the car’s speed all the way to a standstill while providing active steering input. In this way the vehicle helps drivers to stay in lane as long as they keep at least one hand on the steering wheel.

BMW 2er dash

BMW ConnectedDrive Services & Apps bring smartphone applications into the vehicle and allow innovative features like the Concierge Service or Real Time Traffic Information to be added. These can also be booked at a later date and, in many cases, for flexible periods of time. In this way, the functionality of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer can be vastly enhanced and updated by the owner at any time.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is the first model in the premium compact class to be made available with a Head-Up Display, which projects all relevant driving information into the driver’s field of vision in full colour. Instead of being displayed on the windscreen itself, the information is shown on a screen that extends out between the steering wheel and windscreen. This enables drivers to view all key information without having to divert their attention from the road.

Economies of scale due to cross-brand vehicle architecture

The BMW Group has developed two architectures: one for future four-wheel and rear-wheel drive models and one cross-brand front- and four-wheel drive architecture, on which the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is based. This front-wheel architecture is also the basis for ensuring profitable growth in the premium small and compact car segment: “The standardisation of development and production processes based on the concept of cross-model/brand architectures and engine modules enables us to achieve considerable economies of scale within the Group,” said Harald Krüger, board member of BMW AG responsible for production. 

Moreover, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is the first BMW to benefit from the modular engine concept.

The standardised modular engine enables the BMW Group to manufacture 3-, 4- and 6-cylinder petrol- and diesel-powered engines of varying capacities on one single assembly line. The high percentage of identical parts means the Group can greatly reduce costs, both in development and in production.

Solutions for improved mileage of fully electric vehicles

At its final review in Vigo, Spain, on July 17 and 18, 2014, the European research project OpEneR presented collaboratively developed driving strategies and driver assistance systems that will significantly improve the efficiency and safety of both electric and hybrid vehicles in the future. This greater efficiency will help unlock the market for fully electric and hybrid vehicles: by increasing driving range without enlarging the battery. Engineers and researchers have worked to improve the electrical powertrain, the regenerative braking system, the navigation system, and the surround sensors, as well as on functions that connect these elements with each other. The two fully operational electric vehicles they have built have already demonstrated an impressive potential for making driving in real conditions more economical.

OpEneR, which stands for “optimal energy consumption and recovery based on a system network,” was launched in May 2011. The project partners are the Austrian powertrain development company AVL List GmbH, the Spanish research institute Centro Tecnológico de Automoción de Galicia (CTAG), the German research institute Forschungszentrum Informatik Karlsruhe (FZI), the second largest carmaker in Europe PSA Peugeot Citroën, and the German companies Robert Bosch GmbH and Robert Bosch Car Multimedia GmbH. The project is a European research project under the Seventh Framework Program, co-funded by the European Commission – Directorate Communications Networks, Content and Technology. The total budget was 7.74 million euros, 4.4 million euros of this sum in the form of subsidies. The project was led by Bosch.

One task was the development of “eco routing”. This considers the specific needs of an electric vehicle when calculating the best route. The navigation system now continuously factors in the car’s real energy consumption behaviour. Test drives demonstrated energy consumption savings of up to 30 percent in return for a longer travel time of just 14 percent. Shortcuts in inner-city traffic proved to be a particularly effective way of increasing efficiency.

Various solutions increase driving efficiency
It has long been widely accepted that a proactive driving style is the most effective way to reduce fuel consumption. The behaviour of the ACC adaptive cruise control has therefore been especially adapted to an economical driving style. Additionally, enhanced map data also includes information on inclines, declines, and speed limits, while car-to-infrastructure communication provides information about traffic lights. These data create an electronic horizon that can be used to further optimize both the ACC function and the coasting function. This feature tells drivers when to lift the accelerator pedal as they approach city boundaries or speed limits. The transmission then switches to idle, making the most of the car’s momentum.

An intuitive HMI concept and an attractive cockpit based on a freely programmable TFT display also have been designed to make all the relevant information easy to read. In addition, the enhanced map data makes the calculation of the remaining mileage significantly more accurate and transparent to the driver.

A further major task was to find the ideal interaction between the electrical powertrain and the regenerative braking system. For the best possible recuperation, engineers equipped the two Peugeot 3008 e-4WD demo cars with the Bosch iBooster, an electromechanical brake booster, and an ESP® brake control system specifically adapted for electric vehicles. The powertrain concept comprises two electric motors – one per axle – that can both drive as well as recuperate. On that technical basis, the partners have developed innovative recuperation strategies, including a regenerative brake force distribution between front and rear, optimizing recuperation rates as well as vehicle stability.

To support the development process, the team used advanced co-simulation techniques, including realistic vehicle and environment interaction. A seamless approach was employed to enable fast migration of the developed functions and their simulated test cases for further development and validation on the AVL InMotion powertrain testbed.

 

Peugeot 3008s
As these features were incorporated into the two prototypes, numerous test drives were performed. To evaluate the efficiency gain, the simulation tools and testbeds developed by AVL, Bosch, and FZI were used, as well as the private test tracks belonging to Bosch and CTAG, and CTAG’s intelligent public road corridor. In comparison to a typical sporty driver, the operation strategies finally resulted in a reduced energy consumption of 27 to 36 percent, with an increase in travel time of between 8 to 21 percent – depending on the driver’s willingness to follow the recommendations. Approximately 5 percentage points of the energy consumption reduction are due to intelligent torque distribution between the front and rear electric motors, which has no influence on travel time at all.

UK power behind BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car

The first purpose-built, plug-in hybrid sports car from BMW has gone on sale powered by engines exclusively produced at BMW’s Hams Hall engine manufacturing facility, near Birmingham.

The BMW i8 is a brand-new contemporary, sustainability-focused sports car. It is the first BMW production vehicle to be powered by a three-cylinder engine and together with BMW eDrive technology is able to combine the dynamics of a high-performance sports car with the fuel efficiencies of a small car.  Demand in the UK is high and already the BMW i8 has sold out for more than a year.

BMW i8

A brand-new, unique production facility has been developed at the Hams Hall plant for the world-wide production of the new three-cylinder BMW TwinPower Turbo technology petrol engines – the first of a new generation of engines to be built at the plant.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “The British-made engine for this ground-breaking car demonstrates that the UK automotive industry is at the forefront of the production of high-quality, low emission car technology. As our recent commitment to invest £500m in ultra-low emission vehicle design, production and adoption shows, we want the UK to be a world leader in the global transition to ultra-low emission motoring.”

BMW i8 chassis & drivetrain

Plant director, Nick Spencer, said: “Our plant is going through a huge transformation, and we are excited to see the first of our brand-new engine assembly facilities ramping up production. The new three-cylinder petrol engines will enable the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car to set new standards for dynamic performance in combination with industry-leading fuel efficiency and low carbon emission levels.  With the exclusive supply of these engines coming from the Hams Hall plant, we are proud to be contributing to this innovative new sports car.”

Each engine is built by a small team of people, all of whom previously worked at the plant and have been specifically recruited and trained to work on the new engines. Two technical apprentices who spent the final year of their training programme working on the development of the new production area are now placed in full-time technical jobs within the new team having successfully completed their apprenticeships.

BMW i8 chassis & drivetrain: front

Front electric motor with battery pack in backbone

Former apprentice James Law said:  “My apprenticeship was an ideal combination of academic study, through which I achieved higher qualifications, along with practical, invaluable work placements.  It has been a fantastic opportunity to see this new engine manufacturing facility being installed and I’m thrilled to have successfully completed my apprenticeship and to be working in such an interesting, technical role within the new team.”

The Hams Hall plant already has a sustained 13-year history of manufacturing over 3.5 million small, fuel efficient and low emission engines since its official opening in 2001.  Over 400,000 engines were produced during 2013 representing around 16 per cent of all engine production in the UK. Ramping up production of this new facility forms the first part of an ongoing multi-million pound development programme at the Hams Hall site which will continue into next year.

BMW i8 chassis & drivetrain: rear

Rear-mid mounted three-cylinder petrol engine

BMW i8: Three-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology combined with BMW eDrive technology in the form of a hybrid synchronous electric motor; engine with a displacement of 1.5 litres, output of 231PS and maximum torque of 320Nm; power sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox; electric motor with an output of 131PS and maximum torque of 250Nm; power channelled through the front wheels via a two-stage automatic transmission; lithium-ion high-voltage battery with direct refrigerant cooling and gross capacity of 7.1 kWh.

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The BMW i8 embodies a revolutionary, future-focused interpretation of the driving pleasure for which BMW is renowned. It was purpose-designed as a plug-in hybrid sports car offering agile performance and outstanding efficiency. An exceptionally lightweight and aerodynamically optimised body – including a passenger cell made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) – plus advanced BMW eDrive drive system technology, a compact, highly turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and intelligent energy management all come together to create an overall concept that represents a new landmark in the Efficient Dynamics development strategy. The BMW i8 blends the performance of a top-end sports car with the sort of fuel economy and emissions usually associated with compact models. It is based, moreover, around a vehicle architecture that creates the perfect platform for thrillingly agile handling, thanks to an ultra-low centre of gravity and almost exactly 50:50 weight distribution. The BMW i8 boasts supremely precise driving dynamics and superb steering feel, giving the driver outstanding command of the vehicle even when exploring the limits of its performance.

The three-cylinder combustion engine in the BMW i8 develops 170kW/231PS and drives the rear wheels, while the 96kW/131PS electric motor draws its energy from a lithium-ion battery, which can be charged from a conventional domestic power socket, and sends its power to the front axle. This bespoke plug-in hybrid system, developed and produced by the BMW Group, enables a range of up to 37 kilometres (23 miles) in the EU test cycle and a top speed of 120km/h (75mph) on electric power alone, coupled with a “glued-to-the-road” all-wheel driving experience headlined by powerful acceleration and a dynamically-biased distribution of power through keenly taken corners. The more powerful of the two power sources drives the rear wheels and uses the electric boost from the hybrid system to deliver hallmark BMW driving pleasure while at the same time offering groundbreaking levels of efficiency. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) takes just 4.4 seconds, yet combined fuel consumption – as calculated in the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles – stands at 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres (approx. 135 mpg imp) plus 11.9 kWh of electricity. This equates to CO2 emissions of 49 grams per kilometre.

The actual fuel economy in everyday driving provides further impressive proof of the BMW i8’s outstanding efficiency. Depending on the user’s charging habits and the distances driven, it is capable of returning fuel consumption figures that are almost unheard of for a sports car. The typical driving requirements of commuter traffic can be met with average fuel consumption of less than five litres per 100 kilometres (over 56.5 mpg imp) when utilising the two drive units. If the daily commute is combined with longer sections of motorway and country driving – on weekend trips for instance – the intelligent powertrain management in the BMW i8 is capable of keeping consumption below the seven litres per 100 kilometres mark (40.4 mpg imp). And even when it’s just being used for long-distance holiday driving, fuel consumption still averages below eight litres per 100 kilometres (35.3 mpg imp). Overall, the plug-in hybrid’s fuel consumption figures are around 50 per cent lower than conventionally powered models in the sports car segment under virtually all operating conditions.
For maximum driving pleasure and efficiency: BMW TwinPower Turbo engine and BMW eDrive.

The plug-in hybrid drive system of the BMW i8, which comprises a BMW TwinPower Turbo engine combined with BMW eDrive technology, offers the best of both worlds: excellent potential for improved efficiency and exciting, sporty driving characteristics. The BMW Group has developed not only the internal combustion engine and electric motor in-house but also the power electronics and the battery. This ensures that all these components offer high product and quality standards, underpinned by the outstanding capabilities of the BMW Group in the field of powertrain research and development.

The revolutionary character of the BMW i8 is emphasised by a further innovation: the use of an internal combustion engine which is making its debut in this model. The BMW i8 is the first BMW production model to be powered by a three-cylinder petrol engine. This highly turbocharged unit is equipped with latest-generation BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. It is exceptionally compact and extracts maximum power of 170 kW/231 hp from its 1.5-litre displacement. The resulting specific output of 113kW/154PS per litre of displacement is on a par with high-performance sports car engines and is the highest of any engine produced by the BMW Group.

The new three-cylinder engine derives its typical characteristics from BMW’s six-cylinder in-line engines, to which it is closely related and which are noted for their eager power delivery, revving ability and refinement. The three-cylinder’s BMW TwinPower Turbo technology comprises a high-performance turbocharging system and direct petrol injection with high-precision injectors positioned between the valves, along with VALVETRONIC throttle-less load control, which improves efficiency and response thanks to seamlessly variable valve lift control. Like a straight-six engine, the three-cylinder unit is free of first and second-order inertial forces. The low rolling moment, a typical feature of a three-cylinder design, is further reduced by a balancer shaft, while a multi-stage damper integrated in the automatic transmission ensures very smooth and refined running at low rpm. BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and low internal friction improve both fuel efficiency and torque characteristics. Accelerator response is sharp and the three-cylinder unit quickly reaches its maximum torque of 320Nm. It also makes its mark by producing a decidedly sporty soundtrack. Both this and the engine’s hearty appetite for revs stem from the design characteristics it shares in common with the six-cylinder in-line unit featuring BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.

The car’s second power source is a hybrid synchronous electric motor specially developed and produced by the BMW Group for the BMW i8. The motor develops maximum power of 96kW/131PS and instantly produces its maximum torque of 250Nm from standstill. Besides the instantaneous response typically generated by electric motors when pulling away, power continues to be developed into the higher load ranges. Credit for the linear power delivery, which extends right up to the high end of the rpm range, goes to a special motor design developed exclusively for BMW i. BMW eDrive technology refines and improves on the principle of the permanently excited synchronous motor with a special arrangement and dimensions for the torque-producing components. This has the effect of generating a “reluctance torque” in addition to the drive torque from the permanent magnets resulting from the rotor’s magnetic asymmetry. The upshot of this is that the electric motor can continue to supply plenty of torque at high revs, unlike other motor designs. The hybrid synchronous motor owes its name to this blend of torque-producing properties stemming from two different types of motor.

As well as providing a power boost to assist the petrol engine during acceleration, the electric motor can also power the vehicle by itself. Top speed is then 120km/h (approx. 75mph). The BMW i8 has a maximum driving range in this emission-free, virtually soundless, all-electric mode of up to 37 kilometres (23 miles) as measured on the EU test cycle. The motor derives its energy from the lithium-ion battery which is centrally mounted underneath the floor of the vehicle. This model-specific version of the high-voltage battery was developed and produced by the BMW Group. It features an evaporative cooling system, offers a gross energy capacity of 7.1 kilowatt hours and can be recharged from a conventional household power socket, at a BMW i Wallbox or at a public charging station. The battery was designed by the BMW Group and built to last for the life of the car. Customers receive a warranty for the battery spanning eight years or 100,000 kilometres (approx. 62,000 miles).

Sports car also displays maximum efficiency when it comes to operating costs.
The vehicle concept and drive system technology of the BMW i8 help it earn top marks for efficiency. The low fuel consumption of the plug-in hybrid sports car brings with it not only impressively low emissions but also significantly reduced running costs.
The process for calculating the average fuel consumption of plug-in hybrid vehicles in the EU test cycle also takes into account the use of the available energy capacity in a fully charged battery. All of which allows the BMW i8 to boast unrivalled economy given its performance potential; the test cycle fuel consumption comes in at 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres (134.5 mpg imp). This figure is based on a driving profile where the high-voltage battery’s capacity is initially used for all-electric driving, before switching to hybrid mode when energy is recuperated to recharge the battery, allowing further sections of the journey to be covered solely on electric power. This profile uses up 11.9 kWh of electricity and 2.1 litres (0.5 gallons) of fuel to complete the 100 kilometres (62 miles). Assuming electricity charges of 0.25 euros per kWh and a fuel price of around 1.50 euros per litre, this results in energy costs of some 6.00 euros per 100 kilometres. This is equivalent to the price of around four litres (0.9 gallons) of premium unleaded petrol.

The pioneering powertrain technology at the heart of the BMW i8 allows customers to benefit from the tax incentives offered in many countries for ultra-low-emission vehicles, especially for electric and hybrid cars. The reliability of the electrical drive system components and their low maintenance requirements minimise the amount of servicing needed. The vehicle concept of the BMW i8 has a favourable impact on its insurance rating too. Any damage to the exterior bodyshell, such as occurs in around 90 per cent of all accidents, can be rectified with relatively little effort and expense by replacing plastic components. Overall, the repair costs following a collision are similar to those for conventional BMW models. This is reflected in the BMW i8’s German insurance group rating, which is low for a high-powered sports car in this segment (group 30 for fully comprehensive protection).

All-new sports car driving sensation rooted in hybrid-specific all-wheel drive and intelligent energy management.

The rear wheels of the BMW i8 are driven by the petrol engine via a six-speed automatic transmission, while the front wheels receive their power from the electric motor via a two-stage automatic transmission. This, together with the maximum output of 266kW/362PS and peak torque of 320Nm at the rear wheels and 250Nm at the front, provides all-wheel-drive performance which is as dynamic as it is efficient. The BMW i8’s intelligent powertrain control system ensures perfect coordination of both power sources. The variable power-sharing between the internal combustion engine and the electric motor makes the driver aware of the sporty temperament of the BMW i8 at all times, while at the same time maximising the energy efficiency of the overall system. Using the two power sources in unison enables the car to sprint to 100km/h (62mph) from stationary in 4.4 seconds. The BMW i8 has an electronically controlled top speed of 250km/h (155mph), which can be reached and maintained when the vehicle operates solely on the petrol engine.

Variable front-rear power splitting in line with changing driving conditions makes for excitingly dynamic cornering. On entering the corner, the power split is biased towards the rear wheels to improve turning precision. For more vigorous acceleration out of the corner, the powertrain controller returns to the default split as soon as the steering angle becomes smaller again.

The BMW i8’s vehicle concept and powertrain control system mark it out as a progressive, revolutionary sports car. It always achieves the optimal balance between dynamic performance and efficiency, whatever the driving situation. In order to do this, the interaction between combustion engine and electric motor is governed by the intelligent energy management system aboard the BMW i8. A bespoke display and control concept and the link-up between the driver, car and outside world provided by BMW ConnectedDrive bolster the efficiency-enhancing effect of the energy management system. At the same time, they make the targeted management of energy flows in the BMW i8 something the driver can experience in considerable depth.

The high-voltage battery can be recharged via the electric motor with energy recuperated on the overrun. Recovery of energy during braking and overrun phases takes place particularly frequently while driving in SPORT mode. The high-voltage starter-generator, responsible for starting the combustion engine, can also be used as a generator to charge the battery, the necessary power being provided by the BMW TwinPower Turbo engine. These various processes help to ensure that the BMW i8 always has sufficient energy on board to power the electric drive system. The all-electric driving range is sufficient to cover most urban driving requirements. Out of town, the BMW i8 delivers impressively sporty performance extremely efficiently, thanks to the electric motor’s power-boosting support for the petrol engine. With such versatility, the BMW i8 belongs to a new generation of sports car which unites sensational performance with cutting-edge efficiency – to enhance both driving pleasure and the sense for sustainability.

The standard-fitted Navigation System Professional links up with a version of the proactive drivetrain management system likewise specially developed for the BMW i8. When the route guidance function is activated, the drivetrain management is configured to ensure the electric motor is employed as extensively as possible and as wisely as possible from an efficiency point of view. The system analyses the route in full and sets up the drivetrain management to run on purely electric power over low-speed sections of the journey in particular. In so doing it also ensures, for example, that the battery has sufficient capacity for driving in all-electric mode when approaching the journey’s end.

Five driving modes allow drivers to adjust efficiency and dynamic performance as desired – at the touch of a button.

The BMW i8 affords the driver unusually wide scope for adjusting the drive settings and vehicle setup in order to adapt the driving experience to his or her individual preferences. As well as the electronic gear selector for the automatic transmission, the driver can also use the Driving Experience Control switch – a familiar feature of the latest BMW models – for this purpose. This gives the driver a total of five operating modes to choose from: COMFORT mode, SPORT mode and ECO PRO mode, with the additional option of switching to all-electric driving in COMFORT and ECO PRO mode by pressing the eDrive button. The Driving Experience Control switch on the centre console gives drivers a choice of two vehicle setups. On starting, COMFORT mode is activated, which offers a balance between sporty performance and fuel efficiency, with unrestricted access to all convenience functions. The everyday driving range of the BMW i8 on a full fuel tank and with a fully charged battery in COMFORT mode is up to 600 kilometres (approx. 375 miles), as measured in the EU test cycle. Alternatively, at the touch of a button, ECO PRO mode can be engaged, which, on the BMW i8 as on other models, fosters an efficiency-optimised driving style. The powertrain controller coordinates the cooperation between the petrol engine and the electric motor for maximum fuel economy. At the same time, ECO PRO mode also programs electrical convenience functions such as the air conditioning, seat heating and heated mirrors to operate at minimum power consumption – but without compromising safety.

SPORT mode offers sequential manual gear selection and at the same time switches to a very sporty vehicle setup. With the SPORT setting activated, the engine and electric motor deliver extra-sharp performance, accelerator response is faster and the power boost from the electric motor is maximised. And to keep the battery topped up, SPORT mode also activates maximum energy recuperation during overrun and braking, ensuring that the BMW i8 is able to perform to the very best of its sporting abilities at all times. If the battery is being recharged using the car’s kinetic energy, the electric motor’s generator function switches to a more powerful setting. At the same time, gear change times are shortened and an extra-sporty setting is selected for the standard-fitted Dynamic Damper Control and the Electric Power Steering.

When the eDrive button is pressed, the vehicle will switch to the electric motor as its sole power source. Only if the battery charge drops below a given level or the driver suddenly wishes to drive at full throttle (kickdown) does the internal combustion engine cut in automatically.

A bespoke display and control concept that further intensifies the driving experience brings the sporty and progressive character of the BMW i8 even further to the fore. The iDrive Controller, gear selector and driving function buttons on the centre console are all positioned in the classic BMW arrangement. The instrument cluster in the BMW i8 takes the form of a fully digital multifunctional instrument display. Three-dimensional graphics are used to present the current road speed in digital form, information on the vehicle and powertrain status, as well as feedback from the driver assistance systems, Check Control messages and detailed route instructions from the navigation system. The electric range is permanently displayed too, along with the fuel gauge for the petrol engine.

The specially adapted version of the fully digital instrument display fitted in the BMW i8 shows the car’s speed and driving status information in a format and colour selected to suit the driving mode currently engaged. Traditional, orange-coloured circular dials are used for the speed and rpm readouts in SPORT mode. In COMFORT mode a blue “powermeter” display replaces the rev counter to keep the driver up to speed on what the electric motor is up to, while ECO PRO mode adds an efficiency display, which encourages drivers to maximise fuel efficiency through their use of the accelerator.

The high-end chassis and suspension technology of the BMW i8 is based on a double-wishbone front axle and a five-link rear axle, whose aluminium components have been specially designed and manufactured in order to optimise both their weight and strength. Not only does the double-wishbone axle with split lower link level enable high levels of lateral acceleration and ensure excellent straight-line stability, this design principle also has the effect of minimising transmission of any bumps in the road to the steering. The kinematics of both the front wheel suspension and the five-link axle at the rear have been geared to superb handling dynamics. What’s more, the elastokinematics have been precision-tuned for the vehicle to strike an ideal balance between insulation from tyre roar and satisfying the high demands placed on its dynamic performance abilities.

The Electric Power Steering offers easy manoeuvring in town and typical sports car-style high-speed steering precision. Another distinguishing feature is that it requires remarkably little energy too. The steering wheel developed especially for the BMW i8 bears the hallmark BMW i design traits, such as the coloured rim inlay and the BMW emblem encircled by a blue ring. It is furthermore the lightest steering wheel available in any BMW Group model and includes both multifunction buttons and shift paddles for changing gear manually as standard, thereby capturing the sporty and sustainable character of the BMW i8 to perfection.

Also standard is Dynamic Damper Control: the electronically controlled dampers endow the vehicle with sharper agility without any loss of ride comfort. The dampers’ characteristics change according to the selected driving mode to deliver the desired vehicle dynamics.

The DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system includes the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), Brake Assist, Brake Standby, Brake Drying function, Start-Off Assistant, Fading Compensation, Active Differential Brake (ADB-x), Driving dynamic impellent torque pre-control, E-Traction, as well as the push button-activated Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) mode.

The brake system on the BMW i8 was purpose developed for the road-hugging hybrid powertrain and delivers superlative performance with outstanding stopping abilities. The perforated brake discs and black painted brake callipers, meanwhile, simply ooze quality and sporty flair.

The car’s standard-fit 20-inch forged aluminium wheels sport a bi-colour finish, along with an aerodynamically optimised, lightweight design, plus mixed-sized tyres measuring 195/50 R20 at the front and 215/45 R20 at the rear. Two further light-alloy wheel designs are available as alternatives to the standard specification, both shod with mixed-sized tyres measuring 215/45 R20 for the front and 245/40 R20 for the rear wheels. The slender profile of both wheels and tyres together with their large diameter helps to further hone the aerodynamic properties at the same time as ensuring great cornering dynamics and supreme traction. Finally, the tyres’ low rolling resistance further reduces the BMW i8’s power consumption.

Lightweight design, maximised occupant protection: Body and safety

The BMW i8 has its own version of the LifeDrive architecture developed for BMW i that gives it a unique range of tools for combining intelligent lightweight design and safety – to the highest standard in each case. The horizontally split LifeDrive architecture consists of two separate, independent modules. The combustion engine and electric motor, battery pack, power electronics, chassis components, and structure and crash functions are arranged together in the aluminium Drive module, while the central element of the Life module is the 2+2-seater’s carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell. The vehicle structure and materials employed in the i8 represent a pioneering example of automotive construction and reinforce the position of the BMW i8 as an exceptionally progressive model in the sports car segment.

CFRP is the lightest available material that can be used in the construction of a car body without compromising on safety. One of the stand-out characteristics of this high-tech material is its hugely impressive torsional rigidity, yet it also carries 50 per cent less weight than steel and is 30 per cent lighter than aluminium. The LifeDrive architecture and high proportion of CFRP and aluminium in the car’s construction allow a previously unprecedented degree of weight saving. The intelligent lightweight design is therefore able to compensate for the additional weight of the plug-in hybrid drive system and the high-voltage battery. The kerb weight of the BMW i8 stands at 1,485 kilograms, and the LifeDrive architecture also has a positive effect on how this weight is distributed. The battery unit is positioned low down in a central position, helping to give the car a low centre of gravity and enhance safety accordingly. Indeed, the centre of gravity of the BMW i8 is less than 460 millimetres from the ground, making it lower than any other current BMW Group model. And this, like the car’s almost exact 50:50 weight distribution, ensures excellent handling properties.

The principle of intelligent lightweight design was applied to the rest of the car’s components, too. The intelligent construction of the magnesium instrument panel support brings a weight saving of around 30 per cent compared with the BMW 6 Series, for example. In addition, the high structural rigidity of the magnesium support structure gives it a strengthening effect which allows the number of components to be reduced, thereby lowering weight by a further 10 per cent. Innovative foam plastic technology used in the air conditioning ducts cuts their weight by 60 per cent compared with a conventional solution, while also improving acoustics thanks to its sound-absorbing properties. The fact that the power electronics and electric motor are directly connected reduces the amount of wiring required, while partial use of aluminium wiring enables a further reduction in weight.

The BMW i8 is also the world’s first volume-produced vehicle to be equipped with chemically hardened thin glass. This innovative technology, so far used mainly in smartphone manufacturing, lends the material impressive strength. The partition between the passenger compartment and boot of the BMW i8 consists of two layers of chemically hardened glass, each of which is just 0.7 millimetres thick, with acoustic sheeting sandwiched in between. In addition to excellent acoustic properties, a further advantage of this solution is a weight saving of around 50 per cent compared with conventional laminated glass.

The outer skin of the BMW i8 is made of thermoplastic polymers and is likewise manufactured at BMW Plant Leipzig. Apart from being half the weight of sheet steel, the plastic material provides corrosion-free surface protection that is produced using a low-energy process and is resistant to minor damage, too.

The LifeDrive architecture allows exceptional levels of freedom when it comes to body design. In the case of the BMW i8, the result is an appearance that faithfully reflects the car’s sporting characteristics, its innovative premium character and its ground-breaking technology. The impressive structural strength of the CFRP passenger cell allows particularly large door apertures, which in turn ensure comfortable access, even to the rear seats of the BMW i8. The distinctive doors, which open forwards and upwards like wings, are composed of a CFRP inner structure and an aluminium outer skin. This construction is 50 per cent lighter than a conventional door design.

In its dry, resin-free state, CFRP can be worked almost like a textile, and as such allows a high degree of flexibility in how it is shaped. The composite only gains its rigid, final form after the resin injected into the lattice has hardened. This makes it at least as durable as steel, but it is much more lightweight. The high tear resistance along the length of the fibres also allows CFRP components to be given a high-strength design by following their direction of loading. To this end, the fibres are arranged within the component according to the load processes it is subject to. By overlaying the fibre arrangements, components can also be strengthened against load in several different directions. In this way, the component design can be made significantly more efficient and effective than is possible with any other material that is equally durable in all directions – such as metal. This, in turn, allows further reductions in terms of both material use and weight, leading to another new wave of savings potential. The lower accelerated mass in the event of a crash means that energy-absorbing structures can be scaled back, cutting the weight of the vehicle.

The development of the LifeDrive architecture and the version of it used for the BMW i8 incorporated the latest findings from safety and accident research and the requirements of international crash test procedures. The high-strength passenger compartment teams up with the intelligent distribution of forces within the LifeDrive module to provide the cornerstones for optimum occupant protection. The extremely rigid material used for the passenger cell and the crash-activated aluminium structures at the front and rear end of the Drive module maintain an intact survival space for passengers even in a structurally debilitating offset front crash.

Impressive rigidity, combined with its ability to absorb an enormous amount of energy, makes CFRP extremely damage-tolerant. Even at high impact speeds it displays barely any deformation. As in a Formula One cockpit, this exceptionally stiff material provides an extremely strong survival space. Less body deformation occurs compared with comparable steel bodies. Furthermore, the doors can be opened without any problem and the interior remains largely free of intrusions. Rescue scenarios were worked through and checked as part of the development process. In standard cutting tests, the process of rescuing occupants from a BMW i8 involved in an accident was, in various scenarios, even more straightforward than that for conventional vehicles. That is because body components made from CFRP are lighter and can be more easily cut than high-strength steels, for example.

The impressive safety characteristics of CFRP also come to the fore in side impact scenarios. Despite the heavy, in some cases concentrated forces, the material barely sustains a dent, and passengers enjoy unbeatable protection. All of which makes CFRP perfectly suited for use in a vehicle’s flanks, where every centimetre of undamaged interior is invaluable. However, there are limits to what CFRP can endure. If the forces applied go beyond the limits of the material’s strength, the composite of fibres breaks up into its individual components in a controlled process, absorbing energy as it does so.

The occupant protection concept is rounded off by standard safety equipment – including electronically controlled restraint systems – of the same high standard in terms of scope and effectiveness as that featured in vehicles from all the BMW Group’s brands. Front airbags and side airbags integrated into the seat backrests, plus head/curtain airbags for both rows of seats, are all fitted as standard, as are three-point inertia-reel seatbelts including belt tensioners and belt force limiters for all seats.

BMW i8 interior

The crash-activated aluminium structures in the front and rear sections of the vehicle provide unbeatable safety for the Drive module. In a front or rear-end collision, these absorb a large proportion of the energy generated. The battery, meanwhile, is mounted centrally in the underbody section of the car to give it the best possible degree of protection. Statistically, this is the area that absorbs the least energy in the event of a crash, and the vehicle is subject to barely any deformation here as a result.

The high-voltage system is designed to cope with accidents beyond the legal requirements and includes safeguards with a multi-redundant design to ensure the high-voltage battery’s safe reaction even in situations such as these. A series of tests conducted by the renowned DEKRA E-Mobility Competence Center were extremely extensive – ranging from how a car might catch fire, how the flames might spread and what would be required to extinguish the fire, to the pollution caused by run-off of the water used for fighting the fire. The experts concluded that electric and hybrid cars with lithium-ion drive system batteries are just as safe as vehicles with conventional drive systems. To ensure maximum safety in such a crash scenario, the high-voltage battery is disconnected from the high-voltage system and the connected components discharged as soon as the passenger restraint systems are triggered.

Tests by vehicle insurers and BMW Accident Research show that accidents primarily result in minor damage. In around 90 per cent of all recorded accidents involving conventional vehicles, the damage sustained is to the outer skin. The BMW i8 takes account of this and is equipped with screw-on/clip-on plastic panelling all around. Minor bumps are absorbed without leaving dents, as usually occurs with metal parts, and damage to the paint does not lead to corrosion. If a section of the external skin needs to be replaced, this can be carried out quickly and economically.

Thanks to innovative repair methods, which also encompass the CFRP components, the sum total of the accident repair costs for all the different cases of damage is similar to that for conventionally powered BMW models.

As a result, the BMW i8 has a comparatively low insurance rating in Germany (group 30 for fully comprehensive).

The slim headlights of the BMW i8 team up with the BMW kidney grille to form a horizontal unit emphasising the car’s width. The plug-in hybrid sports car is fitted as standard with powerful and energy-efficient full-LED headlights. In their lower section, the light sources are framed by a U-shaped bar into which are integrated the daytime driving lights, sidelights and direction indicators. The intricately designed rear light clusters also feature the U-shape typical of BMW i cars. All of the lights on the BMW i8 are LEDs as standard. The optional LED headlights with extended features also include a specific light distribution mode for a notably improved light range when driving on motorways and cross-country routes at speeds over 120km/h (75mph).

Before the end of 2014, the BMW i8 will become the world’s first series-produced vehicle to be made available with innovative laser headlights as an option. These generate a pure-white, extremely bright light that is pleasant to the eye by carefully converting the beams emitted by tiny laser diodes using a fluorescent phosphorous material inside the headlight. The laser diodes are ten times smaller than conventional light-emitting diodes, helping to save space in the headlight unit and also reduce weight. What’s more, the reflector’s surface area can be made far smaller compared to LED headlights, and measures less than 3 centimetres in height compared to 9 centimetres previously.

Laser light is monochromatic, which means that the light waves all have the same length (colour). They also have a constant phase difference. As a result, laser lighting can produce a near-parallel beam with impressive luminance, which gives it an intensity ten times brighter than that of conventional light sources. The beam can also be adjusted extremely precisely. The optional laser boost light furthermore produces a high-beam range of up to 600 metres, thereby doubling the already impressive range of the sophisticated LED high-beam headlight. The camera-based, digital High Beam Assistant reliably prevents both oncoming traffic and vehicles travelling ahead from being dazzled. Apart from all this, the laser lighting system is even more efficient too, meaning that energy consumption can be reduced by more than a third even compared to LED headlights, which are already very efficient themselves; laser light generates approximately 170 lumens (photometric unit of light output) per watt, whereas LED lighting produces around 100 lumens per watt.

The pedestrian alert sound that has previously been required by law for electrically powered vehicles in certain markets will be offered as an option worldwide. To ensure that pedestrians are able to detect the vehicle’s presence more easily when driving at low speeds purely on electric power, a distinctive sound is generated that mimics the noise made by a turbine. This pedestrian alert sound is active at speeds of up to 30 km/h (approx. 18 mph) in order to amplify the vehicle’s barely audible road/tyre and wind noise when travelling at this speed.

UK government fast-tracks driverless cars

Vince Cable has announced two new measures that give the green light for driverless cars to take to UK roads from January 2015.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced two new measures today (30 July 2014) that give the green light for driverless cars to take to UK roads from January 2015.

UK cities can now bid for a share of a £10 million competition to host a driverless cars trial. The government is calling on cities to join together with businesses and research organisations to put forward proposals to become a test location.

Up to 3 cities will be selected to host the trials from next year (2015) – and each project is expected to last between 18 and 36 months and start in January 2015.

Ministers have also launched a review to look at current road regulations to establish how the UK can remain at the forefront of driverless car technology and ensure there is an appropriate regime for testing driverless cars in the UK.

Two areas of driverless technology will be covered in the review: cars with a qualified driver who can take over control of the driverless car and fully autonomous vehicles where there is no driver.

Speaking at vehicle engineering consultancy, test and research facility, MIRA, where he tested a driverless car with the Science Minister Greg Clark, Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“The excellence of our scientists and engineers has established the UK as a pioneer in the development of driverless vehicles through pilot projects. Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than 6 months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society.

“Through the government’s industrial strategy we are backing the automotive sector as it goes from strength to strength. We are providing the right environment to give businesses the confidence to invest and create high skilled jobs.”

Transport Minister Claire Perry said:

“Driverless cars have huge potential to transform the UK’s transport network – they could improve safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions, particularly CO2. We are determined to ensure driverless cars can fulfil this potential which is why we are actively reviewing regulatory obstacles to create the right framework for trialling these vehicles on British roads.”

Science Minister Greg Clark said:

“Britain is brilliantly placed to lead the world in driverless technology. It combines our strengths in cars, satellites, big data and urban design; with huge potential benefits for future jobs and for the consumer.”

Iain Gray, CEO of the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, said:

“This competition for funding has the potential to establish the UK as the global hub for the development and testing of driverless vehicles in real-world urban environments, helping to deepen our understanding of the impact on road users and wider society.

“The ability to test driverless cars at scale, when married to the UK’s unique strengths in transport technologies and urban planning, will also attract further investment, helping to establish new design and manufacturing supply chains, driving forward UK economic growth.”

The driverless cars competition is being funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Transport, in partnership with the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board. Successful projects must be business-led and need to demonstrate close collaboration with partners such as technology developers, supply chain companies and manufacturers.

MIRA’s Chief Commercial and Technical Officer Dr Geoff Davis said:

“We welcome the announcement made by the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable today at our site in encouraging further advancements and UK engineering excellence. Our 10 years of experience developing driverless car solutions with successful applications in defence and security as well as cooperative systems in road transport applications means we are already working on a number of projects that explore the potential of connected and cooperative driverless cars.”

More: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28551069

More: http://www.theengineer.co.uk/opinion/comment/look-no-hands/1019006.article?cmpid=tenews_441903

New: Revised Smart Fortwo, new Forfour

The smart fortwo has undergone improvements in virtually all areas and is markedly more comfortable. The hallmark smart rear engine concept is being offered for the first time in the four-seater smart forfour as well. Drive power is supplied by state-of-the-art three-cylinder engines rated at 45kW/60PS, 52kW/71PS and 66kW/90PS, while power transmission is performed by a five-speed manual transmission or the twinamic automatic dual clutch transmission. A host of innovative details guarantee even more fun in the city. The new smart generation will be launched onto the market in Europe in November. The price for the smart fortwo with 52kW engine will be under 11,000 euros, while the smart forfour will cost only around 600 euros more with the same engine.

Smart Fortwo and Forfour

“As Europe’s youngest car brand, smart enjoys global success today. No-one combines functionality and emotion as well as we do, as the inventors of individual urban mobility. The new smart fortwo and forfour adopt the proven concept while offering more of just about everything – more space, more colour, more equipment … and even more fun in the city! Only the vehicle length remains as unique as ever, at 2.69 metres,” says smart boss Annette Winkler. “Our idea based on a total rethink of urban mobility has won through.”

“In the planning phase we were clear that we wanted to retain the rear engine for the new smart, so as to continue to exploit the vehicles’ strengths to the full in the city,” explains Jörg Prigl, head of the product group Compact Cars at Mercedes-Benz. “On this basis, we then developed the new fortwo and forfour together with our partner, Renault.”

“Despite increased safety requirements, we have managed to retain the smart fortwo’s unique length of just 2.69 metres,” adds Markus Riedel, head of development at smart. “It shares its architecture with the new forfour. We have tailored both of the vehicles to the needs of modern-day city traffic. My team is particularly proud of the turning circle, which sets a brand new benchmark at just 6.95 metres for the fortwo.”

The brand appeals equally to both the heart and the mind.  An expressive design idiom and colouring embody pure joie de vivre. The compact proportions and clever details attest to unique functionality. The new smart fortwo and the new smart forfour are clearly recognisable as members of the same family. Many design features such as the headlamps, the cooling air grille in the front and the iconic tridion safety cell are identical, for example. And both vehicles are fitted with rear engines, making them particularly agile in urban traffic.

“smart stands for FUN.ctional design, as the brand is defined by two poles – the heart and mind. The design idiom is clear, purist and trendy, and the hallmark smart attributes are being adopted into a new era. These attributes include the characteristic silhouette with the ultra-short overhangs, the clear lines and forms, the tridion cell and the updated smart face,” notes Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Daimler AG.

Extreme agility and optimum use of space – more fun in the city

Short overhangs, minimal length, high steering angle. The new smart models have everything it takes to manoeuvre elegantly into any parking space – and around every corner, too. When it comes to the turning circle, the new smart fortwo sets a new benchmark: at 6.95 m (from kerb to kerb) and 7.30 m (from wall to wall) it makes turning manoeuvres extremely simple. And the new smart forfour turns almost as compactly as the previous fortwo (wall to wall: 8.75 m). Its statistics are 8.65 m (kerb to kerb) and 8.95 m (wall to wall).

The new models also come up trumps once again with regard to the maximum of space packed into minimal dimensions, as documented by the excellent body space index. Additional highlights include the rear doors opening by almost 90° on the smart forfour and the folding front passenger seat backrest which comes as standard for all variants.

Real Life Safety – safety features

The essential safety concept embodied so successfully by the preceding models has been retained. Like a nut, the soft interior is protected from harm by a rigid shell: the tridion cell. A high proportion of ultra-high strength hot-formed steels and maximum-strength multiphase steel is now used on the new smart. In keeping with the Mercedes-Benz “Real Life Safety” philosophy, the focus in car-to-car crash tests was on compatibility with substantially larger and heavier vehicles. The new smart vehicles performed well in frontal collisions with the S- and C-Class.

Advanced assistance systems which were previously the reserve of higher classes of vehicle, further enhance safety and comfort. These include Crosswind Assist (standard), forward collision warning (option) and Lane Keeping Assist (option).

A new front axle design adopting elements of the previous Mercedes-Benz C-Class, an optimised De Dion rear axle, substantially increased spring travel all round, tyres with higher side walls and an unprecedented small turning circle are the highlights of the new chassis. The chassis and suspension of the new smart generation have been evolved on the basis of the experience acquired with previous smart models and designed for markedly enhanced ride comfort.

New three-cylinder engines, dual clutch transmission – the drive system

Two state-of-the-art three-cylinder engines will be available for the new smart models at the market launch: the naturally aspirated engine generates 52kW/71PS from a capacity of 999cc. The engine’s ample torque from an engine speed as low as 1000rpm (maximum: 91Nm at 2850rpm) enables particularly economical driving in high gears, even in urban traffic.

Top of the range is the turbo engine rated at 66kW/90PS. The 898cc engine mobilises maximum torque of 135Nm at 2500rpm. The totally new turbocharger features an electronically controlled wastegate which enables increased engine dynamics in conjunction with a sustainable reduction in fuel consumption. Another distinguishing feature is the automatic start/stop system.

Apart from the turbocharger, a whole range of other technical measures also contributes to the engine’s excellent fuel efficiency and performance. These include variable swirl control and variable adjustment of the inlet valves. Another defining trait of the all-aluminium three-cylinder engine is the square bore/stroke ratio. A few months after the market launch, a basic petrol engine rated at 45kW/60PS will extend the range.

Both transmission variants are also new for smart: customers can choose between a five-speed manual transmission and the twinamic six-speed dual clutch transmission.

Passion, prime and proxy – the new lines

Three equipment lines (passion, prime and proxy) and a wealth of optional items, some of which were previously the reserve of higher segments, make every smart fortwo or smart forfour a unique gem in its own right. Even in the entry-level version, both models offer a comprehensive scope of safety and comfort features. These include LED daytime driving lights, central locking with radio remote control, visual locking-verification signal and immobiliser, cruise control with limiter (variable speed limitation), exterior temperature indicator with frost warning, instrument cluster with monochrome LCD display and trip computer and electric windows in the front.

Passion, prime and proxy are the names of the three lines which serve to upgrade the smart fortwo and smart forfour and provide for differentiation particularly in the interior. Their features include a leather multifunction steering wheel, an instrument cluster with colour display and heated seats.

Smart Fortwo interior

To tie in with the market launch of the new smart generation, the edition #1 will also be available for a limited period. This offers exclusive design features such as a tridion safety cell in lava orange combined with bodypanels/body in white on the fortwo and graphite grey on the forfour.

Smart Forfour interior

The multimedia systems meet the highest standards, with comprehensive smartphone integration, real-time navigation and intuitive operation with touchscreen. For the first time, smart is offering the JBL sound system, which produces an impressively full sound. It incorporates a 6-channel DSP amplifier (240 W) in the fortwo and an 8-channel DSP amplifier (320 W) on board the forfour. A total of eight (fortwo) or twelve (forfour) high-performance loudspeakers provide for outstanding listening pleasure.

smart cross connect is a revolutionary new app which is available to customers free of charge from smart for the smart fortwo and smart forfour. smart cross connect offers even more features while on the move and outside of the vehicle. smart parking is among the features which now offer a more user-friendly design and incorporate new functions.

FUN.ctional – the exterior design

Extremely short overhangs at front and rear – the new smart generation also possesses these typical proportions. And thanks to the 100 mm wider track, the wheels are positioned further outwards. These characteristic proportions offer outstanding visibility and agility and, together with the rear engine, enable a passenger cell accommodating an unrivalled amount of space in such compact dimensions. The colour contrast between tridion cell and bodypanels is another characteristic feature of the smart brand.

The smart designers refer to the evolutionary development of the silhouette as the “one-and-a-half box” design. A change to the previous one-box proportions became necessary for two reasons: The higher bonnet lends the smart a more grown-up and sportier character.

The smart sports a friendly but self-assured face. A decisive feature of this friendly face is the signature smart grille, which is now slightly larger. The grille’s perforated structure results from a honeycomb pattern. The honeycomb is paler towards the outside – the designers refer to this as fading. The radiator trim is available in a variety of colours to match or contrast with the bodypanels, including black, cool silver and white. The second, black cooling air opening in the bumper also features the honeycomb pattern.

The markedly larger updated smart logo in the middle of the grille also demonstrates self-confidence. It is now three-dimensional and almost spherical in shape, harmonising with the smart’s distinctly more sensuous lines. The logo features a matt finish rather than a high-gloss look, similarly to all the sparingly applied chrome accents.

The rhombic front lamps are truncated slightly at the top, producing an attractive sporty look. The U-shaped daytime driving lights add a characteristic design feature. In combination with the LED & Sensor package, the headlamps incorporate a welcome function: when the car is unlocked, the light in the headlamps pulsates, as if the smart were welcoming its owner.

A loving attention to detail is demonstrated, for example, by the way in which the honeycomb pattern is cited in the headlamp covers. On the indicators, the honeycomb pattern even performs the function of dispersing the light. The bonnet also highlights the new sculptural lines, describing a powerful and sporty downward sweep between the headlamps.

The new smart forfour is clearly recognisable as a member of the new smart family, sharing many design features with the smart fortwo. Naturally enough, it is in the profile that the greatest difference is to be found between the fortwo and the forfour: the smart fortwo has a large door extending into the B-pillar with a frameless window. The typical smart genes are thus recognisable from afar on the road: the striking door contours and the unique tridion cell. A characteristic swage line, such as features in the middle of the doors, underscores the brand image. This is followed by the fuel filler cap on the right and the air inlet for the rear engine under the B-pillar on the left. As previously, the door is lined with a panel in high-quality lightweight plastic. This allows the king of the car park to shrug off any knocks and bumps from other road users.

The side view of the smart forfour reveals the same elements as the fortwo, but has a longer tridion cell as well as the additional door. The front and rear overhangs appear just as short as on the fortwo. The forfour’s roof line slopes downward towards the rear in coupé style.

A new feature on both models is the pronounced shoulderline. This provides both variants with a firm look on the road and establishes a visual separation between vehicle body and greenhouse.

The twin-section tailgate is close to smart drivers’ hearts. The new smart fortwo boasts this special feature once again, enabling the vehicle to be loaded even in the tightest parking spaces.

The rhombic tail lights framed by the tridion cell are reminiscent of the first smart generation and combine with the large track width to emphasize the width at the rear. A unique LED scenario is optionally available in conjunction with the LED & Sensor package: eleven individually illuminated cubes are allocated to each tail light, providing a striking night design. The typical honeycomb pattern features once again in the clear glass over the indicators and reversing lights in the middle of the lamps.

The smart forfour essentially has the same elements as the smart fortwo. It is fitted with an upward-opening single-section tailgate, however, to enable convenient loading of the lower luggage compartment.

New, rich exterior colours and around 40 combination options between bodypanels and tridion cell boost the brand’s upbeat image. New colours now available include moon white (matt), lava orange (metallic) and hazel brown (metallic), which can be applied to contrast with new colours for the tridion cell such as cool silver (metallic) or lava orange (metallic).

Easy-going and charming – the interior design

“Loop” is the designers’ name for the emotional sweep that features as a leitmotif in the interior, embellishing the dashboard and doors, for example. The sculptural dashboard itself consists of two sections – a bold and sensuous outer section which can optionally be covered with fabric, and a large, concave inner section incorporating the functional elements. In front of the dashboard, the instrument cluster and the infotainment centre with radio/navigation appear to hover in front of the dashboard.

The dashboard and the door centre panels feature extensive fabric coverings in the three lines. This high-quality textile surface is very pleasant to the touch and is reminiscent of the mesh inserts in modern sports shoes. The mesh structure is a USP in this vehicle segment.

The colour and material concept underscores the easy-going and charming character of the new smart generation, with the equipment lines standing for a distinctive and individual appearance. The sporty front seats with bold contours are designed as integral seats.

The instrument cluster and its semi-circular segmentation for speed and warning indicators cites the previous smart models, but in a new look. The striking spherical air vents are simple and fun to use. The centrally positioned air conditioning control unit also features an unusual appearance: the desired temperature can be set on a scale in the middle with the aid of a sliding magnifying glass.

The three-spoke multifunction steering wheel can be used to control the radio or navigation unit positioned in the centre of the dashboard. The infotainment centre in modern consumer electronics style appears to hover in front of the dashboard. The interior thus reflects the values of a young, active and networked generation.

The doors take up the “loop” of the dashboard with their ellipsoidal sweep. The large armrest provides for comfort. The honeycomb pattern from the exterior is cited on the integrated loudspeaker and the tweeter in the mirror triangle.

Smallest turning circle of any car – the concept

Short overhangs, minimal length, high steering angle. The new smart models have everything it takes to manoeuvre elegantly into any parking space – and around every corner, too. When it comes to the turning circle, the new smart fortwo sets a new benchmark: at 6.95m (from kerb to kerb) and 7.30m (from wall to wall) it makes turning manoeuvres extremely simple. And the new smart forfour turns almost as compactly as the previous fortwo (wall to wall: 8.75m). Its statistics are 8.65m (kerb to kerb) and 8.95m (wall to wall).

The smart fortwo and smart forfour makes exceptional use of the available space. The smart engineers have developed the body space index (BSI) to describe how efficiently space is used. It describes the ratio of interior to exterior length, whereby the interior length is measured from the accelerator pedal in unused position along a horizontal line to the rear end, as a simple means of comparison between different vehicles. Both the new models from smart attain top ratings for this criterion: 75% (smart fortwo) and 77 % (smart forfour).

The key dimensions of the two new smart models:

  smart fortwo smart forfour
Length (m) 2.69 3.49
Width (m) 1.66 1.66
Height (m) 1.55 1.55
Wheelbase (mm) 1.873 2.494
Turning circle (kerb-to-kerb) (m) 6.95 8.65
Turning circle (wall-to-wall) (m) 7.30 8.95
Interior length (accelerator pedal to rear end) (mm) 2011.6 2707.3
Body space index (ratio of length to interior length) (%) 75 77
Luggage compartment capacity (behind front seats) (L) 260 730
Luggage compartment capacity (behind front seats to roof) (L) 350 975
Luggage compartment capacity (behind rear seats) (L) - 185
Luggage compartment capacity (behind rear seats to roof) (L) - 255

The new smart forfour naturally offers even more loading capacity. The rear seat backrests can be folded down to produce a level load surface measuring 1285 x 996mm with a cargo volume of up to 975 litres – the benchmark in its segment. The loading length with the front passenger seat backrest folded forward is also exceptional, at 2.22 metres.

And on top of all this, reversible cushions are optionally available for the rear seats in the forfour. The “ready space” seats in the rear can be turned around and lowered substantially in next to no time to produce 12 cm more loading height inside, which is very simple to make use of thanks to the rear doors which open to an angle of almost 90°.

Markedly more comfortable – the chassis

The new smart has essentially been configured for gently understeering handling characteristics. The different tyre sizes at front and rear have thus been retained, whereby the narrower front tyres in conjunction with a high outside wheel turn angle contribute to the unprecedentedly small turning circle. ABS, ASR and ESP® are ready to intervene at the critical limits of road-holding. A hill hold function and brake assist are integrated in the brake system.

The engineers have designed a new MacPherson suspension with a triple-path head bearing for the front axle. Each wheel is controlled by a wishbone under the wheel centre, the MacPherson strut and a tie rod. Comfort and guide bearings for the wishbones provide for added comfort, along with the markedly increased overall spring travel. During the compression phase in particular, the new smart runs markedly more smoothly over uneven surfaces than previously.

The new smart models also feature a sophisticated De-Dion rear axle, which has been modified for substantially greater comfort. New elements are the twin-tube shock absorbers and separate barrel-shaped helical springs. Two elastomer shims provide for effective noise decoupling of the helical springs between body and rear axle.

The Sports suspension package is optionally available to those seeking sportier handling from their smart. The springs are firmer here and the vehicle is ten millimetres lower.

As standard, the new smart models come with mechanical rack-and-pinion steering. The Direct-Steer system with variable ratio and electric power assistance provides for considerably enhanced driving enjoyment, even better handling and increased efficiency.

Crosswind Assist as standard – active safety

Advanced assistance systems which were previously the reserve of higher classes of vehicle further enhance safety and comfort. These include Crosswind Assist (standard), forward collision warning (option) and Lane Keeping Assist (option).

Every car driver will be familiar with risky situations when surprised by strong gusts of wind while overtaking trucks or on bridges. Standard-fit Crosswind Assist is able to defuse such dangerous situations by carrying out specific braking intervention when the vehicle threatens to drift off track. As a result, less countersteering effort is required of the driver. Crosswind Assist is active from 80 km/h when driving straight ahead and in gentle bends. The ESP indicator lights up in the instrument cluster in response to noticeable intervention by Crosswind Assist.

A brief lapse in concentration is all it takes for the driver to edge too close to the vehicle ahead – this is one of the main causes of serious traffic accidents. The forward collision warning (option) helps to defuse such dangerous situations. It can prevent rear-end collisions when the driver approaches the end of a traffic jam, for example. The system can also prompt the driver to take action in dangerous traffic situations in the city, thereby helping to avoid accidents. The distance to the vehicle ahead and the closing speed are monitored continuously by mid-range radar.

The driver is warned in two stages: when a vehicle ahead is detected, a warning lamp first of all lights up in the instrument cluster, if the distance is not within the safe range (stage 1). If the closeness to the vehicle ahead becomes critical, giving rise to a danger of collision, a warning tone additionally sounds (stage 2). The driver is thus urged to take action in the form of emergency braking or a specific evasive manoeuvre to avoid a rear-end collision. The combined visual and audible warning is initiated in case of moving or stationary vehicles in the speed range from 4mph to top speed. Stationary vehicles are detected when the driver is travelling at a speed from 4 to 56mph.

Vehicles veering off the road or collisions with oncoming traffic are among the most common and most severe types of accident. Lane Keeping Assist (option) helps to avoid such crashes. A video camera scans road markings and detects differences in contrast between the road surface and boundary lines in real time. A control unit processes the data from the camera and the driver’s activities. The system is able to recognise whether the driver intends to leave the lane by checking whether an indicator has been activated, for example. If a danger is detected, an audible warning tone is output and a visual warning is displayed in the form of a symbol in the instrument cluster.

Comprehensive occupant protection – passive safety

The bodyshell of the new model series and the tridion safety cell have undergone further development to adapt them to the more stringent safety requirements in the crash test and to the new smart forfour. A high proportion of ultra-high strength hot-formed steels and maximum-strength multiphase steel is now used. These are used in the sidewall and in particular in the substructure.

In order to assure the structures of a high level of deformation and energy absorption capacity in frontal collisions, the new smart generation has been provided with the largest possible crumple zones and attention has been devoted to ensuring an effective flow of the accruing forces. In a severe frontal collision, the rear structure also helps to absorb the energy acting on the vehicle, for example. The forces are channelled into the extremely robust passenger cell, which is designed as a safety cage. Particularly extensive work went into adapting the new front axle carrier to crash requirements.

The highly robust tridion passenger cell is able to prevent major deformation even in very severe collisions, thus helping to protect the occupants’ space. The fuel tank is located safely outside the deformation zone in front of the rear axle.

The Mercedes-Benz safety engineers were involved in the cooperation project with Renault throughout all phases of the development process and were able to contribute their amassed know-how. In the area of computer simulation, for example, where it was possible to calculate in detail the behaviour of individual weld spots or the newly introduced bonding methods, such as MIG soldering.

The number of assessed collision cases far exceeded the mandatory scope, both in the simulations and in real crash testing. The new smart fortwo underwent the same development programme as the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, for example. As it has been evolved for the global market, the number of crash tests was four times what is required for vehicles designed primarily for the European market.

In keeping with the Mercedes-Benz “Real Life Safety” philosophy, the focus in car-to-car tests was on compatibility with substantially larger and heavier vehicles. The new smart fortwo was required to demonstrate its capabilities in frontal collisions with the S- and C-Class.

The way in which all components (body, seat belts, airbags and sensor system) interact is crucial to effective protection. The forward displacement space for the occupants is to be sufficient to provide them with an adequate deceleration distance to minimise accident-induced physical stress in the event of a collision.

Driver and front passenger are each provided with a three-point seat belt with belt force limiter and pyrotechnic belt tensioner as standard. The rear seats in the smart forfour each have a three-point seat belt with pyrotechnic belt tensioner and belt force limiter – features which other manufacturers do not necessarily provide as standard, even in higher classes of vehicle. A rear belt status indicator in the overhead control panel comes as standard.

The ISOFIX fastening system with TopTether attachment features as standard on the passenger seat of the fortwo and the rear seats of the forfour, providing a simple means of attaching child seats rigidly to the vehicle. The child seats themselves come from the Mercedes-Benz range.

The headrests for driver and front passenger are integrated in the backrests. They reduce the risk of injuries to the cervical vertebrae in a rear-end collision.

The smart models come with driver airbag, driver kneebag and front passenger airbag as standard. The kneebag has a positive influence on occupant kinematics in a frontal collision, thus offering the driver additional protection in many frontal collision scenarios. The principle of the telescoping steering column has been adopted 1:1 from the Mercedes-Benz range.

The standard-fit sidebags (head-thorax bags) are accommodated in the driver and front passenger seat backrests and provide side cover for the respective occupants’ head and chest. The sidebags incorporate two chambers to enable due adaptation to different sizes of head / upper body. When inflated in side-on collisions they are able to lower the degree of stress to which the chest area is exposed and reduce the risk of the head colliding directly with the side window or other objects likely to cause injuries, such as a pylon, a tree or parts of a colliding vehicle. The occupants’ pelvic areas are additionally protected by deformation elements installed at appropriate points in the door panels.

Production – Hambach plant remains a role model

Highly efficient assembly and logistics operations and suppliers based directly on site at the plant as system partners: since it was opened in October 1997 the smart plant in Hambach, Lorraine, has stood for the success story of an innovative, particularly lean production concept which continues to set new standards in its area of the automobile industry. With investments in the order of 200 million euros for production of the new generation of the two-seater, the plant has brought its original production concept into line with the state of the art while further increasing the flexibility of production operations. The innovative, lean production concept at ‘smartville’ is based on smart assuming overarching control of the plant and responsibility for the end product, while at the same time drawing on the expertise of specialised suppliers and service companies for numerous areas of production.

There is close contact between the smart plant in Hambach and the Renault production plant in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, where the new smart forfour rolls off the production line as part of the cooperation agreement between smart and Renault. The involvement of the production and quality experts from the Hambach plant ensures that all vehicles of the new smart generation meet the smart quality standards in full, irrespective of where they are produced.

The success story – an idea wins through

1998 saw the launch of an excitingly different car – the smart city coupé, which has since long become known as the smart fortwo. Measuring little more than two and a half metres in length, the uncompromising two-seater fitted crossways into parking spaces and established a new class of its own. Idea and brand successfully established worldwide.

With its uniquely short design, the smart is simply unbeatable for city driving – much to the delight of smart drivers in ever more cities all over the world. Following the smart fortwo’s initial launch in Germany and eight other European countries, it is now available in 46 countries across the globe.

It has always been part of the smart concept to offer customers numerous additional services in the area of individual mobility. Back in an early phase of the brand’s history, for example, the smartmove programme enabled drivers to hire a larger car on favourable terms, to reserve special parking spaces and to avail themselves of a car sharing programme – services which have since undergone further development and which remain closely linked to smart today as “smart add-on” or “car2go”.

smart is also a pioneer of the local emission-free electric drive: 2012 saw the launch of the third-generation smart fortwo electric drive. With the new models, smart customers can enjoy even more fun at the wheel of an attractively priced vehicle that has the familiar compact dimensions, be it in coupé or cabrio style. With its 55 kW electric motor the smart fortwo electric drive accelerates from 0 – 62mph in 11.5 seconds, and with a maximum speed of 78mph driving pleasure is also guaranteed on urban motorways. The 17.6 kWh battery enables the urban two-seater to travel approximately 90 miles in city traffic without producing any local emissions. The new sale&care model makes opting into electric mobility particularly attractive: it offers customers an opportunity to buy, finance or lease the vehicle at an attractive price and to rent the battery for a monthly fee.

2012 also witnessed the introduction of the first smart with just two wheels: the smart ebike features an unconventional design in line with the style of the brand, functions appropriate for city use and high technology standards which are reflected by an extremely efficient high-performance drive package among other merits.

Total sales for the smart fortwo well in excess of 1.5 million show how successfully smart has turned the idea for this unique city car into reality. Annual sales also remained stable around the 100,000 mark in the final years of the model lifecycle. In 2013 the smart electric drive was the market leader in Germany and ranked 3rd in Europe and 5th worldwide in the registration statistics for electric cars. At the beginning of 2014 the smart fortwo won the title of “Microcar of the Year” for the fifth time in succession in China. Today, five years after the market launch, China is the third most successful market for smart, after Germany and Italy.

New: Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster

  • Debut of the luxury brand’s most potent and exhilarating roadster yet
  • 6.0-litre V12 engine: 573PS and 620Nm delivers 201 mph top speed
  • Supreme agility and intense excitement characterise new model   

Aston Martin is opening up a new world of exhilarating driving excitement with the announcement of the hotly anticipated V12 Vantage S Roadster.

When it arrives in markets around the world later this year the new sports car will become the luxury British marque’s most potent, fastest and fastest-accelerating series production roadster to date and follows in the broad tyre tracks of the V12 Vantage S Coupe that was launched to worldwide acclaim in 2013.

Providing the most visceral yet engaging open-top experience in Aston Martin’s current range, the new V12 Vantage S Roadster delivers characteristic sporting agility underpinned by an enviable sports ‘soundtrack’ generated by its naturally aspirated V12 engine and expertly-tuned sports exhaust.

Equipped with the latest 573PS Aston Martin AM28 6.0-litre V12 engine, featuring state-of-the-art Bosch engine management, the car is capable of reaching 201 mph and sprinting from rest to 60mph in only 3.9 seconds (0-100km/h 4.1 seconds).

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster

Peak and low rev torque is delivered in abundance. With 620Nm available at 5,750 rpm the V12 Vantage S Roadster is not to be found wanting in this vital department. Crucially, too, low rev torque – measured from just 1,000rpm – starts at a colossal 510 Nm. Together, these statistics demonstrate the Aston Martin engineers’ ability to create a ‘flatter’, yet ‘fatter’, torque curve which supports exceptional driveability and strong pick-up through the gears.

Aston Martin Director of Design, Marek Reichman, said: “The V12 Vantage S Roadster is the mechanical embodiment of our company’s exceptional spirit.

“Beautiful, powerful and spirited it is as spectacular to listen to as it is to look at. The new roadster is truly a treat for the senses with, underlying all this, the capacity to deliver one of the most dynamic, exciting and stirring driving experiences in our current range.

“I’m sure the V12 Vantage S Roadster will appeal to luxury sports car enthusiasts worldwide who want to add a truly exceptional new model to their garage.”

Race car technology 

As with its coupe sibling, race car technology runs right through the DNA of the V12 Vantage S Roadster with, for instance, CNC machined combustion chambers and hollow camshafts just two examples of track technology feeding through to the road.

Another clear example is the new car’s Sportshift III 7-speed transmission. Engineered to exploit the full sporting potential of the V12 engine, the latest generation Sportshift III hydraulically actuated automated manual transmission provides motorsport-style paddle shift changes for optimum performance delivery. The unit, which replaces the six-speed manual gearbox found in the previous V12 Vantage Roadster, is also appreciably lighter – saving 20kg versus its forebear.

This race-derived and motorsport-proven technology – used routinely in Aston Martin Racing’s race-winning Vantage GT4, GT3 and GTE competition cars – provides for great driver control with only milliseconds of torque interruption and delivers precise and swift gear changes.

The Sportshift III transaxle, developed in conjunction with transmission experts Oerlikon Graziano, joins an extensive array of new sport and track-focused developments that ensure the V12 Vantage S Roadster is fully equipped to exploit the huge performance potential of its 6.0-litre naturally aspirated engine.

The use of three-stage adaptive damping, allied to three-stage DSC and two-stage ABS, allows the driver to more precisely tailor the car’s dynamic character. ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Track’ modes provide a broad swathe of dynamic performance that can be tuned to better suit the driver’s requirements. The system also governs the level of power steering assistance offered.

Working alongside the extended chassis capabilities is a ‘Sport’ mode, controlled via a button on the centre console, that alters throttle response, gearshift speed and timing, and exhaust note to, once again, tune the character of the car to the driver’s requirements.

Optimum braking performance is delivered via the specially-created carbon ceramic discs all round, with near-identical brakes appearing on the brand’s ultimate GT, the Vanquish. Meanwhile a whole new lightweight exhaust system – derived from that of Aston Martin’s most expensive and exclusive production model, the One-77 hypercar – is wonderfully sonorous.

The ZF Servotronic power assisted steering offers a quick, slick, 15:1 ratio and,  linked to the adaptive damping button, provides two-mode steering assistance designed to best match the ‘Sport’ or ‘Normal’ settings generated by the Adaptive Damping System.

Pure power, beautifully presented

As Aston Martin’s most overtly sporting convertible, with an even more dynamic character than the luxurious Vanquish Volante ultimate GT or refined DB9 Volante, the V12 Vantage S Roadster has been styled to reflect is position as the flagship convertible in the Vantage family.

In keeping with the V12 Vantage S Coupe, the Roadster replaces the famous aluminium vanes in the Aston Martin grille – with a carbon fibre arrangement that also includes sporty black or titanium silver mesh. Created to maximise airflow to the V12 engine, the new grille is inspired by both the remarkable CC100 Speedster Concept and the Vantage race cars.

Other distinguishing features of the V12 Vantage S Roadster include the option of lightweight forged alloy ten-spoke wheels.

The new Roadster retains the same compact proportions of its predecessor while features such as the pronounced bonnet louvres, optional bold graphics (painted carbon front grille, front grille lipstick and tailgate panel) as well as the exterior carbon pack and flared wheel arches underscore its sporting abilities.

Inside, as out, the new car has been styled to reflect its powerful nature. New-style seat trim and door trims, with Sport and carbon fibre lightweight seat options – present V12 Vantage S Roadster buyers with an exciting array of choices.

The optional Interior Carbon Pack, which adds carbon fibre to the car’s facia and door pulls, plus the availability for the first time in a V12 Vantage S Roadster of black pedals, further enhances personalisation options for those in search of a truly bespoke sports car.

Q by Aston Martin

Meanwhile, For V12 Vantage S Roadster, the company is introducing a Q by Aston Martin Collection which comprises bespoke features that are entirely in keeping with the character of the car.

For V12 Vantage S Roadster this includes a palette of bold exterior and interior colours; body coloured carbon bonnet louvres; a red tint or satin finish to the carbon fibre elements on the exterior and interior of the car; a full carbon fibre centre console, black anodised and machined rotary controls and a steering wheel with a leather on-centre stripe in the chosen interior accent colour.

Marek Reichman added: “The new V12 Vantage S Roadster not only looks the part, but has been engineered and built to showcase the ethos of Aston Martin: power, beauty and soul.

“We believe that it is a truly exceptional sports car, with the capacity to set pulses racing just by its sound alone. The authentic appeal of its style, performance, quality and craftsmanship ensure its stands head and shoulders above others in its sector and delivers that most precious of experiences – fun – in abundance!”

Technical specification

Body

  • Two-seat, two-door soft-cover convertible top bodystyle
  • Extruded bonded aluminium VH body structure
  • Aluminium, magnesium alloy, composite and steel body
  • Extruded aluminium door side-impact beams
  • Halogen projector headlamps (main beam)
  • High Intensity Discharge headlamps (dipped beam)
  • LED rear lamps
  • Clear rear lamps
  • Carbon fibre front splitter and rear diffuser
  • Black headlamp bezels1

Engine

  • All-alloy, quad overhead camshaft, 48-valve, 5935 cc V12
  • Front mid-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive
  • Fully catalysed, stainless steel exhaust system with active bypass valves
  • Compression ratio 11.1:1
  • Max power 421 kW (573 PS/565 bhp) at 6750 rpm
  • Max torque 620 Nm (457 lb ft) at 5750 rpm
  • Acceleration Roadster 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds
  • Maximum speed Roadster 323 km/h (201 mph)

Transmission

  • Rear mid-mounted, seven-speed ‘Sportshift III’ automated manual transmission
  • Alloy torque tube with carbon fibre propeller shaft
  • Limited-slip differential
  • Final-drive ratio 3.727:1

Steering

  • Rack and pinion, speed-sensitive Servotronic power-assisted steering, 2.5 turns lock-to-lock
  • Column tilt and reach adjustment
  • Steering rack with 15:1 ratio

Wheels & Tyres

  • 19” 10-spoke forged alloy Graphite painted wheels with diamond-turned finish
  • Front: 9 x 19” Pirelli P Zero Corsa 255/35 ZR19
  • Rear: 11 x 19” Pirelli P Zero Corsa 295/30 ZR19

Suspension

  • Front: Independent double wishbones incorporating anti-dive geometry, coil springs, anti-roll bar and monotube adaptive dampers
  • Rear: Independent double wishbones with anti-squat and anti-lift geometry, dual-rate coil springs and monotube adaptive dampers
  • Three-stage Adaptive Damping System (ADS) with Normal, Sport and Track modes

Brakes

  • Front: Ventilated Carbon Ceramic Matrix discs, 398 mm diameter with six-piston monobloc calipers
  • Rear: Ventilated Carbon Ceramic Matrix discs, 360 mm diameter with four-piston monobloc calipers
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Track mode
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Track mode
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
  • Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
  • Traction Control (TC)
  • Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA)
  • Positive Torque Control (PTC)
  • Hill Start Assist (HSA)

Standard Specification

  • Full-grain leather interior
  • Piano Black fascia trim, centre stack and door grabs
  • Leather-trimmed sports steering wheel with Black airbag ring
  • Electrically adjustable sports seats with side airbags
  • Memory seats and exterior mirrors (three positions)
  • Dual-stage driver/passenger front airbags
  • Carbon fibre front grille
  • Titanium front grille and side strake meshes
  • Powerfold exterior heated mirrors
  • Heated rear screen
  • Automatic temperature control
  • Organic Electroluminescent (OEL) displays
  • Trip computer
  • Cruise control
  • Bluetooth® telephone preparation with audio streaming capability
  • Satellite navigation 1
  • Auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror 1
  • Garage door opener (USA and Canada only) 1
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Reverse parking assist camera (USA and Canada only)
  • Tyre pressure monitoring 1
  • Alarm (with volumetric and tilt sensor) and immobiliser
  • Remote control central door locking and boot release
  • Glass ECU
  • Glass switches
  • Aston Martin Tracking by Cobra (UK only) 2,3
  • LED map reading lights

In-Car Entertainment

  • 160 W Aston Martin audio system with six-CD autochanger
  • Integrated Apple iPod® connector 4
  • USB connector with Waveform Audio Format (WAF), Windows Media Player (WMA) and MPEG (MP3) audio file compatibility

Exterior Detailing Options

  • 10-spoke lightweight alloy wheels – Silver painted – Satin Black painted
  • 10-spoke forged alloy wheels – Liquid Silver painted – Gloss Black painted with a diamond-turned finish
  • Alternative Brake Caliper finish: Grey, Red or Yellow
  • Pirelli P Zero Tyres
  • Black or Silver Graphics Pack – individual body panels or combinations of: front grille ‘lipstick’, rear tailgate panel and lamp infills,
  • Exterior Carbon Pack comprising mirror caps, side strakes and rear lamp infills
  • Carbon fibre side strakes
  • Painted carbon fibre front grille
  • Black front grille and side strake meshes
  • Black side window trim surround
  • Black textured tailpipe finisher
  • Silver headlamp bezels
  • ‘V12’ front wing badging
  • Delete model badging
  • Delete protective tape

Interior Detailing Options

  • Carbon fibre fascia trim
  • Carbon Interior Pack comprising fascia trim and door grabs
  • Carbon fibre paddleshifts
  • Aston Martin Wings headrest embroidery 6
  • Black pedal pads and footrest
  • Black anodised speaker grilles (only available with Bang & Olufsen audio system)
  • Personalised sill plaques

Comfort and Convenience Options

  • Front parking sensors
  • Reverse parking assist camera 1
  • Lightweight seats with six-way electrical adjustment 1,5
  • Heated seats 6
  • Passenger seat with ISOFIX (fixed height) 1,6
  • Garage door opener (Europe only) 1
  • Second glass ECU
  • Aston Martin Tracking by Cobra 1,2,3
  • First aid kit 1
  • Ashtray and cigar lighter
  • Boot-mounted umbrella
  • Leather ECU pouch

In-Car Entertainment Options

  • 700 W Aston Martin Premium Audio System with Dolby® Pro Logic II®
  • 1000 W Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system with ICEpower® technology
  • Satellite radio (USA and Canada only)

Dimensions

  • Length 4385 mm (172.6”)
  • Width 1865 mm (73.4”) excluding mirrors
  • Width 2022 mm (79.6”) including mirrors
  • Height Roadster 1260 mm (49.2”)
  • Wheelbase 2600 mm (102.4”)
  • Front track 1570 mm (61.8”)
  • Rear track 1575 mm (62.0”)
  • Turning circle 11.8 m (38.7 ft) (kerb to kerb)
  • Boot capacity 144 litres (5.1 cu ft)
  • Fuel capacity 80 litres (17.6 UK gal/21.1 US gal)
  • Kerb weight Roadster 1745 kg (3847 lb)

Fuel consumption litres/100 km (mpg)

  • Urban 22.5 (12.6)
  • Extra-urban 10.2 (27.7)
  • Combined 14.7 (19.2)

CO2 emissions

  • 343 g/km

1 Not available in all markets

2 Complies with UK Thatcham Category 5 requirements. Excludes subscription. Standard in UK

3 Cobra is a registered trademark of Cobra Automotive Technologies SpA

4 iPod® is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the US and other countries

5 Does not include side airbags

6 Not available with lightweight seats

7 ‘Sportshift’ trademark is used under licence from Prodrive (Holdings) Ltd

Coming soon: Jaguar XE

  • The world premier of the all-new Jaguar XE will be held in London on 8 September
  • The XE will be a true sports saloon with class-leading dynamics, refinement and technology
  • Precise handling and high-quality ride is assured with Integral Link rear suspension; a layout designed for optimum performance, comfort and control
  • The finely-honed F-TYPE-derived front suspension delivers accurate and immediate response
  • State-of-the-art electric power steering system delivers renowned Jaguar feel and response
  • World-first All Surface Progress Control system ensures rear-wheel drive traction from standstill even in extreme conditions

Jaguar will unveil the latest addition to its sports saloon car family, the Jaguar XE, at a star-studded event in London on 8 September. The event will mark the unveiling of a true driver’s car; one that redefines the concept of the sports saloon – a segment that Jaguar created over 50 years ago with iconic models like the Mark II.

Jaguar will bring levels of innovation never seen before in this segment – with its lightweight construction expertise and sophisticated chassis technology in addition to the new family of Ingenium engines – all designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK.

Built around an all-new, aluminium-intensive architecture, the XE combines thrilling performance, agile handling and precise, responsive steering, with outstanding levels of refinement.

Mike Cross, Chief Engineer of Vehicle Integrity, said: “Jaguars have always been renowned for a balance of precise handling and a high-quality ride. The XE is the culmination of everything the company has learned over the years. The Integral Link rear suspension provides a combination of supple ride and crisp handling that is unmatched in this segment. We are on target to deliver a vehicle that dynamically outperforms our rivals.”

Integral Link rear suspension

Unique to this segment, the integral link suspension delivers major benefits over conventional multi-link designs. By providing lateral and longitudinal stiffness, the integral link delivers sharp response and handling while retaining a refined, luxurious ride.

Many components of the integral link suspension have been forged or hollow-cast in aluminium. These are the optimum production techniques to produce a strong, lightweight solution.

Front suspension based on F-TYPE sportscar

Mounted to a subframe with cast aluminium suspension towers, the XE’s double wishbone front suspension delivers the highest levels of handling and road holding.

The advanced design is based on Jaguar’s flagship F-TYPE sportscar and includes some key components designed to deliver Jaguar XFR-levels of stiffness. These ensure the XE enjoys a similar level of agility and ‘connected’ steering feel. Like the rear suspension, many components are made from cast and forged aluminium and some are produced using a patented process.

Class-leading steering feel

Jaguar is renowned for its steering feel and this will now move to the next level as the XE becomes the first Jaguar to be equipped with the latest generation Electric Power Assisted Steering.

Our latest software algorithms now allow much greater scope for tuning than hydraulic-based systems and deliver better quality steering feel. Other benefits include variable steering damping, ease of low-speed manoeuvring and the ability to adapt to Jaguar Drive Control settings. EPAS also enables a range of Active Safety and Driver Aid features.

All Surface Progress Control

Even with the best traction control, rear-wheel drive cars can struggle to pull away from rest on very slippery surfaces. For that reason, Jaguar has developed All Surface Progress Control, a completely new feature in its class.

Developed with the input of decades of Jaguar Land Rover experience in off-road traction systems, ASPC can electronically gain traction with far less drama than a human driver can achieve. The system works like a low-speed cruise control to deliver optimum traction in the most slippery conditions without skidding and without the driver using the pedals.

Jaguar XE chassis

For a larger image go to

http://www.under-the-skin.org.uk/motorblog/jaguar_xe_chassis_1000.jpg

(We can’t link to it, unfortunately.)