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Found 80 results

  1. azaouogh

    RS Chip Tuning

    Hi, has anyone used this before? Any reviews? Does these chips actually increase the hp and torque?
  2. Automotive Glass: How does it differ from other types? torque: https://www.torque.com.sg/features/automotive-glass-how-does-differ-other-types/ Automotive glass is prone to breakage on impact during an accident or from airborne objects. However, it is probably the only component on a car that does not succumb to wear and tear. Automotive glass only ever needs replacing if it is broken. HOW IT’S MADE The raw material of glass is silica or silicon dioxide, available in abundance from sand. Silica is heated to beyond 1500 deg C before it becomes a liquid and then cast over a layer of molten tin. The liquid silica floats on the tin to form an even, flat layer, which is then cooled to create the solid glass panel. The float glass, as it is known, is subsequently cut into the curved shapes as required. DANGEROUS SHARDS In the past, automotive glass was similar to that in the windows or facades of buildings. However, there were dangers whenever the glass shattered during accidental breakage. The resulting shards of broken glass can be sharper than knife blades. This makes them potentially life-threatening projectiles when the fragments fly into the car’s cabin. MODERN AUTOMOTIVE GLASS Automotive glass today is of a variety categorised as “safety glass”. However, this does not mean it is immune to breakage from bending or foreign-object impact. The term is used because of its drastically reduced potential to cause bodily cuts. Hence, safety glass is a mandatory requirement for the windscreen and windows on every motor vehicle. There are two basic types of automotive safety glass. The more common “toughened safety glass” is made from a single glass pane. When molten silica is cast, metal oxides in precise portions are added. This enhances the physical properties of the material. After this, the automotive glass is cut, ground, shaped or (where required by design) drilled for mounting brackets. Then, it undergoes a secondary thermal process that prestresses it. This results in a structure with evenly distributed internal stresses. Once toughened, this automotive glass cannot be cut or drilled. It is also not easy to break or damage. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT’S HIT? Toughened glass, when subject to impact or torsion, will shatter into small fragments with blunt edges. You can actually scoop up pieces of the broken safety glass with your bare palms and not end up with a single scrape. Try throwing a brick at a windscreen – the brick is likely to bounce back! “Laminated safety glass” is the other variation of automotive glass, and it’s usually used for windscreens and glass sunroofs. The lamination in question comprises a clear or coloured (tinted) polymer resin called polyvinyl butyral or PVB sandwiched between two glass sheets. This glass is bonded to the flexible PVB that is inherently resistant to cracking. So, any impact on either glass surface will not result in loose glass fragments. Even if the entire glass surface is shattered, the PVB maintains its bonding with the glass pieces. LAMINATED GLASS Laminated glass is now the standard for windscreens. Some high-end cars utilise a variation of the laminated glass that substitutes the PVB layer with a vacuum. The gap acts as an insulator against both heat and noise. The two layers of toughened glass are adhesive-bonded around the edges. Adhesive-bonding is also the modern method of attaching (front and rear) windscreen glass to the frame of the car body. Because glass is inherently very stiff, it contributes to the overall stiffness of the structure, specifically the roof and its supporting pillars. BULLET-PROOFING A more complex version of the laminated glass is used in the making of bullet-proof glass. Certain companies offer specially built armoured cars for VVIPs in politics or business who are at risk of being shot at. Bullet-proof glass will prevent the penetration of ammunition from most firearms. It is made by building up multiple layers of polymer materials and glass. Hence, the windscreen and window panels could be as thick as 35mm. It requires extensive and costly modifications to the mounting frames and doors. But to those who need the extra protection on the road, it would be money well spent.
  3. For example Golf is 176 torque with 112 bhp. But the pickup seems faster than a stock civic which have higher bhp and torque
  4. Promo code: TQ4SGM There're 5 PAIR of FREE TICKETS for premium members If you're interested please PM spzen by Tuesday 8 Aug 18:00
  5. Hishercar

    Local Car Magazine eg Torque

    I have been buying on and off local car magazine for more than 20 years and finally thinking of subscribing to Torque because their Sep issue this year promise that they would be very differnt and bigger and better there is something glaring is unlike their foreign counter part, their reports by resident writer including Dr. Winston Lee, Dr. Andre Lam and Mr. Christopher are often personal taste and opinion. Infact, once I took the magazine along to see a new car that they had reported on which I would it contradictory because the car actually fits my taste. So, in short, do you guys think it worth reading our local car magazine or should I go ahead and subscribe. thanks
  6. Take part in our sgCarMart contest by answering question about Torque On The Move and stand a chance to win one of 10 pairs of tickets. Contest period from 1 August 2016 to 7 August 2016 The question is: This year's theme for Torque On The Move is $tretch. True or False Send your answer to pChou before 7 Aug!
  7. Hey, street-smart drivers! Test yourself in Singapore's favourite automotive telematch, Torque On The Move! Beat the rest and win the first prize worth over $4500! We have many more attractive gifts and prizes to be won! Happening on 27 August 2016, sign up with a friend and enjoy loads of fun, challenges and lots of driving. Our early bird registration discount is ending on July 17, 2016 with limited slots left, so hurry and register now! Registration opens now, sign up at www.torque.com.sg/totm16
  8. Are you street-smart, road-savvy and a great driver? Get to win $9000 worth of prizes when emerge tops at Torque’s SUPERSIZED automotive telematch, 25-hour Torque On The Move! Happening on 28-29 August 2015, get a buddy to form a team and enjoy loads of fun, challenges, not forgetting, lots of driving. Exclusively for MCF members at 4th gear and above, we have 10 team tickets for giveaway. All you have to do is to send an email to magtorque_promo@sph.com.sg before 5th August 2015, 12mn with the following details: Full Name: Buddy's Name: Your MCF profile link: Contact Number: For MCF members below 4th gear, fear not. We have a special discount for you too! Only for the first 5 MCF registrants, quote the following promo code during sign up to enjoy 20% off registration fees before 10th August 2015! Promo Code: TOTM20 Registration link: www.torque.com.sg/25totm
  9. Assume 2 different cars with same 200nm of torque. One car weighs twice as much as the other. Does this mean the lighter car will accelerate faster than the heavier? Just wondering how to compare the torque figures in the sales brochures.
  10. Free 3 months subscription of TORQUE MAGAZINE with the purchase of four Goodyear Tyres! Promotion ends on 28th February 2015. So hurry and get a set of Goodyear Tyres now!
  11. SGCM_editorial

    Turbocharger Refresher

    For internal combustion to take place, fuel needs oxygen, the source of which is atmospheric air. During the intake stroke (as the piston descends within the cylinder), the mass of air inducted is strictly at ambient pressure. Cylinder volume is a physical constant, but the mass of air that fills any space is a function of pressure. Hence, the higher the pressure, the greater the mass of air that can occupy any given volume, simply because air is compressible. A device that “blows” air into the cylinder would enable more air-mass to be squeezed inside said cylinder than by natural aspiration alone. This concept of forcing air into the cylinder to achieve greater than 100 per cent volumetric efficiency at a given ambient pressure is termed “supercharging”. The device mentioned in the previous paragraph is called a compressor. It can be driven by an electric motor, or mechanically by a belt off the crankshaft. The turbocharger, however, relies neither on a motor nor a belt. Instead, a turbo compressor is driven by a shaft-connected turbine, which is made to spin by the hot, fast-fl owing exhaust gases of combustion. In theory, then, turbo-supercharging (to use the “correct” technical term) consumes no energy on its own since exhaust gases are waste products of the internal combustion process. HOT AND BOTHERED Turbocharging, though highly effective, isn’t as simple as it sounds. Heat is turbocharging’s biggest complication. Compressed air, especially if it flows from an exhaust gas-driven device, experiences a significant rise in temperature. Not only does this mean a drop in the density of said air, it also causes pre-ignition of the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber – a phenomenon that frequently leads to stress failure in the cylinder head (and sometimes even the engine block). It was essentially for this reason that the grand-daddies of turbo engines were designed with ridiculously low compression ratios – 6.5 to 1 in the case of Porsche’s 930 Turbo. This alleviated the pre-ignition problems, but the downside was lethargic pre-boost performance, better known as turbo lag. The turbo motor would be relatively lethargic till about 3000rpm, but the surge that came thereafter more than made up for lost time. Porsche later incorporated something called an intercooler into the 930’s engine plumbing. It is basically a heat exchanger, which works like a radiator to cool the compressed air as it flows into the intake manifold. This allows the engine to run a slightly higher compression ratio and increases the density of intake air. THE TURBO TODAY While performance continues to be a major incentive to force-feed engines using a turbocharger, tremendous progress in the capabilities of both hardware and software has realised huge gains in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, too. Arguably the greatest effect the turbo has had on the automotive industry is “downsizing”, or the reduction of engine cubic capacity. Volkswagen’s 1.4-litre TSI engine is a perfect example of the modern, small capacity turbocharged engine. There’s no turbo lag or overheating, just plenty of smooth torquey performance that belies the quoted 122bhp, thanks to a full 200Nm of torque available between 1500rpm and 4000rpm. The 1.4L VW’s sprightly mid-range acceleration feels more like that of a 2-litre, but when it comes to average mileage, the figures are closer to those of a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre. It’s the proverbial best of both worlds, on wheels THE TURBO TOMORROW Today’s state-of-the-art turbo engines deliver performance, economy and driveability that their naturally aspirated cousins of a similar capacity cannot match. With turbo technology continuing to improve, future turbocharged engines are likely to be even better than the ones we have right now. This article was written by Shreejit Changaroth, freelance writer for Torque.
  12. SGCM_editorial

    The 'lease' of your worries

    The sharp reduction in COE (certificate of entitlement) supply relative to current demand has led to sky-high premiums and equally astronomical car prices. A Toyota Vios, for instance, now costs $119k – twice as much as it did five years ago. As if that wasn’t enough, the introduction of a tiered ARF (Additional Registration Fee) scheme plus the stricter financing rules implemented earlier this year have truly left aspiring car owners in a quandary, for they’ve created a significantly higher barrier to car ownership for the average buyer. The previous lending regulations, which allowed banks to extend “full” loans with a repayment period of 10 years, have been abolished. Under the new rules, buyers who intend to purchase a car (including used ones) with an OMV less than or equal to $20k can only borrow 60 per cent of the vehicle’s price (COE included), and must repay the loan in five years. If the car’s OMV is above $20k, a buyer can only borrow 50 per cent of the car’s price and must settle the loan within five years. Specifically, it’s the hefty down payment that is a big hurdle to many people. Buying a Toyota Vios, for example, requires one to fork out a $47.6k down payment. Acquiring a Camry 2.0 – which is listed at $167k at press time – would mean handing over $83.5k should you decide to purchase one. If you can’t afford to buy a car, we’ll demonstrate how you can still “own” one. Even if you could purchase a car outright, we’ll show you how leasing could potentially save you a good amount of cash. THE ADVANTAGES Apart from not having to hand over a big chunk of your savings as a down payment, most leasing contracts also stipulate that the leasing company will be responsible for expenses such as road tax, insurance and vehicle maintenance (see sidebar overleaf for potential “savings”). Some dealers even offer the use of a courtesy car while the leased vehicle is being serviced. Of course, the lessee remains responsible for ERP charges, parking fees and any fines incurred for the duration of the lease. The greatest advantage leasing holds is that since you don’t own the car, you don’t have to contend with depreciation and resale issues when changing vehicles. This is significant as, generally speaking, a new car loses 15 per cent of its value within the first year alone. If you’re planning to lease a new car, it is possible to choose specifics such as colour and standard equipment. But if you’re leasing a used vehicle, you’ll be limited to whatever the dealer in question currently has in stock. A new car is, of course, more expensive to lease than an older one. Most firms will also allow you to use your own registration number on the car you intend to lease (as long as you pay the necessary LTA transfer fee, of course). In contrast to owning a car, leasing also gives you the opportunity to change vehicles sooner, without having to worry about settling the outstanding loan for the car in question. According to Steven Ng, marketing manager at Motorway Group, a customer can negotiate to have an “upgrade clause” included in his contract. “But we will only allow a client to change cars within a reasonable amount of time. A customer cannot expect to be able to change cars every two months. But if it’s a four year contract and the client wants to upgrade after two years, we can negotiate and put that into the agreement.” THE CATCH However, when monthly payments on a car lease are compared to monthly payments on a hire-purchase loan, the former’s advantage doesn’t seem especially great. Local Suzuki agent Champion Motors, for example, is offering the Swift 1.4 GLX hatchback (manual gearbox) from $998 a month – subject to a minimum lease period of 36 months. But if you were to purchase said Swift model, the monthly repayment on a five year loan (at 2.6 per cent annual interest) would be $1,231. This is assuming a 40 per cent down payment against the car’s selling price of $108.9k at press time. When it comes to luxury models, however, leasing is a much more expensive option. Under Mercedes-Benz’s Star Lease programme, for example, the A200 Style hatchback costs $2,460 a month for a 60-month term. But if you were to purchase the vehicle, listed at $159,888 at press time, your monthly repayment would amount to $1,506 (assuming a 50 per cent down payment and a five-year loan). That’s $954 more to lease the same car per month, or an extra outlay of $57k after five years. And once the hire-purchase loan is fully paid, the car is “free” to be driven for the rest of its COE lifespan. Besides, if you’re planning to buy a new vehicle, you’ll have your Preferred Additional Registration Fee (PARF) rebate and the remaining COE paper value – provided the owner scraps the car before its tenth year – to put towards the next car. The PARF rebate is 50 per cent of the Additional Registration Fee (ARF) in the car’s tenth year. In contrast, when the leasing period is over, you’re left with nothing. As several industry veterans have pointed out, this is the other reason why many remain cool to the idea of leasing. PRE-OWNED LEASING If leasing a brand-new car is too expensive, you could consider leasing a used vehicle. Performance Premium Selection Limited (PPSL), a dealership that specialises in pre-owned BMWs. If you want more variety in terms of the makes and models available, you can check out multi-brand distributor Wearnes Automotive’s leasing programme, which offers all the models – both new and used units – from the seven marques (Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Infiniti, Renault, McLaren and Bentley) under the Wearnes umbrella. Apart from these brands, the company also claims to be able to meet a customer’s request for any make/model that isn’t part of its portfolio. Unique to Wearnes, however, are the added services not offered by most firms. For instance, Wearnes’ “Full Service” leasing programme includes vehicle pickup/delivery for maintenance, personal accident insurance in addition to the comprehensive insurance coverage, and 24-hour roadside assistance that covers driving in Malaysia, too. The quality of the used vehicles available for lease varies by dealer. Motorway, for example, tries to ensure that its cars have good service histories no matter their age, but if your budget is lower, you’re more likely to end up with a high-mileage vehicle. Wearnes, on the other hand, tries to offer cars not more than five years old. Be aware, too, that some dealers place mileage caps on their cars. Wearnes, for instance, has an annual cap of 20,000km on its vehicles (whether new or used) and charges 50 cents per additional kilometre covered at the end of the lease, although a spokesperson did mention that clients can negotiate to have this clause waived. AN EMERGING TREND Although leasing isn’t popular among local motorists yet, more car dealers have joined the leasing game anyway. Porsche, MINI, Kia and Volkswagen are just a few of the authorised agents that have recently introduced leasing schemes. This is great news for drivers, as more options equal better chances of finding the programme that best suits their needs This article was written by Jeremy Chua, writer for Torque
  13. SGCM_editorial

    One off the bucket list

    The Ring. The Green Hell. Whatever its nickname, Germany’s Nurburgring is worshipped by driving enthusiasts everywhere as one of the longest and toughest racing circuits in the world. Built in 1927 but modified several times since then, the heart of the Nurburgring is the Nordschleife (“North Loop”) – located about 170 kilometres to the east of Frankfurt, 20.832 kilometres in length and with no less than 154 corners, many of them blind ones. It’s a one-way toll road open to the motoring public, whether in a car or on a motorcycle. You could drive there in a beat-up jalopy and they’ll still let you do the “loop”, but you wouldn’t get anywhere near the current lap record of under 7 minutes (achieved by a Radical SR8, which isn’t really a street-legal car in my book). My ride wasn’t radical, but it was capable of attacking the Ring, thanks to a turbocharged 3-litre 6-cylinder pumping 320bhp to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic. It was a BMW M135i. Why not a 420bhp M3, you ask? Well, I planned to use the same vehicle to tour Europe after my hot laps on the North Loop, so I needed something more economical than a 4-litre V8. Also, I figured that a “slower” performance car would be safer for me on the Nurburgring. As I was there on a Sunday just after lunchtime, there were almost as many spectators (complete with picnic baskets and zoom lenses) as drivers. Pulling up to join the line of cars waiting to enter the monster, I started feeling a little inadequate. While my machine wasn’t the least powerful in the snaking queue, it was definitely the only one that was 100 per cent stock. As far as I could tell, the minimum modification in my group was either a lowered suspension or a deafeningly loud exhaust system. Some cars had both. Finally, it was my turn at the toll barrier, which lifted and allowed me onto the track. Then it started to drizzle… Great! My very first lap on an unfamiliar circuit, in a fast car that didn’t belong to me and it had to rain on my parade. The rainfall also made me think about insurance coverage in the event of an accident (apparently, I was covered as long as I could prove that I wasn’t timing my lap). And my 75-year-old dad was seated alongside all this while. I silently cursed myself for not practising beforehand on a Playstation, and for not reading the Dummies’ Guide to the Nurburgring that a kind friend had e-mailed to this Ring rookie. Thank goodness the M135i (pictured) has traction control and dynamic stability control – I kept both systems switched on. When an E36 M3 in front of me fishtailed and went off the track within just 20 corners, I was glad to have the M135’s electronic guardians on standby to save my skin if needed. I didn’t pussyfoot around, though – this adrenaline-fuelled Singapore lion overtook a Scirocco, complete with roll cage, and dashed past a 911 GT3. I even managed to catch up with a CR-Z mutant hybrid that was spitting flames from its exhaust pipes. I felt like a “Yang” Senna and the feeling was good, until a 1985 Golf GTI passed me on the outside of a corner and promptly deflated my overboosted ego. After four laps back to back on the partially damp, partially dry track, there was perspiration on my skin and pain in my hands. Tackling the Ring was hard, and I tried hard. Most importantly, I survived the drive, even though my hands were aching so much afterwards that I couldn’t Whatsapp my friends about my “adrena-Ring” rush. Yes, 10 minutes per lap is nothing to write home about, and I doubt Nissan will be hiring me to help break the production car Ring lap record in the next-generation GT-R. But at least I’ve ticked one big box in my boyracer bucket list. This article was written by Yang, freelance writer for Torque.
  14. SGCM_editorial

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Paris and Mumbai are rarely mentioned in the same breath, yet both cities share uncanny similarities. Both are facing a steady influx of immigrants; both have a population density of 21,000-23,000 people per square kilometre; both are fairly cosmopolitan; and both have arch-like monuments that have become iconic landmarks (the Gateway of India and the Arc de Triomphe). Both cities also hold valuable lessons for Singapore, from urban planning to population control to environmental management (both cities are litterstrewn). But more pertinently in the context of this article, there are things we can probably learn from the two in the area of traffic management. I say “probably”, made during the time I spent in the two cities in June. Like the city as a whole, traffic in Mumbai is an assault on the senses. With horns blaring, a kaleidoscope of road users fills the tarmac each and every moment of the day – from tuk-tuks to jaywalking pedestrians, from Porsches to cows, from giant trucks to mini-sized Nanos. The roads are heavily utilised and chaotic, with drivers and riders who pay little or no heed to traffic signals, and with certain junctions (major ones included) that aren’t even signalised. Yet there is an order to the madness, and no one seems to lose his cool. Horns are used incessantly, but they are to warn rather than rebuke others. Like the seemingly unruly movement of an ant trail on an unmarked forest path, the flow of vehicles on roads evidently too small to hold them is steady and rarely interrupted. The secret to this unorthodox efficiency lies in how rows of vehicles are almost always more than the number of lanes in a carriageway. For instance, a three-lane carriageway will have five rows of vehicles. This way, the capacity of any road automatically increases beyond its infrastructural design, and with that, efficiency also increases. Travelling speeds, of course, are low, but speed isn’t always a good indicator of efficiency. At lower speeds, the gaps between cars can be smaller. Also, at lower speeds, drivers are better able to avoid accidents, which can cause major delays. Assuming the gaps between vehicles aren’t any different from those here, five rows of cars moving at 30km/h along a three-lane carriageway in Mumbai will offer the same efficiency as a three lane carriageway that allows an average speed of 50km/h. Efficiency, after all, is measured by the number of vehicles clearing a particular stretch of road over a particular span of time. Drivers in Paris face a similar situation. Usable lanes are narrow within the city, as buses and cyclists often have demarcated space reserved for them. And where there aren’t any bus or bicycle lanes, kerbside parking often reduces road space to one lane per direction. Not only that, there are plenty of junctions. Besides the usual cross junctions, there are junctions of various permutations, made more challenging by a confluence of one-, two and sometimes three-lane carriageways. Driving in Paris requires your full attention if you are to avoid a collision. Even when the lights are in your favour, there are often broken lines to indicate that you have to give way to traffic on a bigger road that you are crossing. Hence, speeds are low. And because of that, the accident rate is low (France has among the lowest road fatality rates per million vehicles in the European Union). Speeds are low also because there are many signalised pedestrian crossings. And quite often, the “green time” for pedestrians is as long or longer than the green time for vehicles. Even along the 10-lane Avenue des Champs-Elysees, there are a number of such crossings. Because of these conditions, drivers feel less compunction to make jackrabbit starts, knowing full well that they will have to come to a stop soon afterwards. And like in Mumbai, there is a strong culture of giving way. Filtering or merging vehicles seldom have difficulty. Drivers wave or activate the hazard lights once to say “thanks” in return. I thought it would be a nightmare to negotiate the massive circus around the Arc de Triomphe, but to my surprise, drivers already in the circus gave way to merging traffic, and no one had any difficulty exiting either. Even trishaws catering to sightseeing tourists negotiated the epic roundabout without incident. Even on a highway where traffic has come to a crawl because of roadworks, drivers move slightly aside to make way for ambulances to pass between lanes. This is unthinkable in Singapore. Drivers here are so inflexible and filled with self righteousness that if they were stuck in a similar jam and a siren is blaring behind, they will shrug and think, “What can I do?”. And when the traffic lights at a junction here are faulty, there’d be a tailback of vehicles as drivers struggle to cope with a situation where they have to exercise some courtesy and common sense. In Mumbai this would simply be par for the course. According to the Singapore Traffic Police, inattentiveness is the top cause of accidents here. Methinks it is inconsiderate behaviour. If we all can adopt a “live and let live” attitude, and share road space more willingly, traffic efficiency will improve immensely. We don’t need to resort to forming five rows on a three-lane carriageway, but a bit of tolerance, yielding and graciousness will go a long way. As for traffic engineers, perhaps the lesson here is that “free-flowing” speed isn’t the ultimate measure of efficiency. For one, if roads are designed for “optimal” speed, drivers will feel entitled to go fast (despite legislated limits). In fact, actual urban speeds in Singapore could well be the highest among developed cities. Ironically, speed tends to breed impatience as well as inculcate a “last-minute” mentality. As a result, the accident rate here is high, with the average motorist experiencing a collision (minor or major) about once every five years. This compares with one in 10 years in America. And accidents, obviously, lead to a massive drop in efficiency. This article was written by Christopher Tan, consulting editor for Torque.
  15. SGCM_editorial

    Gas and Electricity

    Even though the CNG (compressed natural gas) car has already died of “unnatural” causes in Singapore, refinement of the technology continues apace in Germany. The latest success is Audi’s A3 g-tron, a Sportback (i.e. five-door hatchback) designed from the ground up to incorporate gas propulsion, so there’s minimum compromise to cabin and cargo space. It can also run on regular unleaded petrol. Two cylindrical tanks located underneath the boot floor store the CNG. As gas is a compressible matter, it is “squeezed” to 200bar (200 times atmospheric pressure) inside the tanks in order to minimise its storage volume. Made from composite materials (polyamide matrix, carbon fibre and glass fibre-reinforced plastic), the tanks are strong enough to handle the massive pressure and yet they weigh less than a third that of an equivalent metal container. The “gas-oline” engine in this case is yet another version of Audi’s ubiquitous 1.4 TFSI (also known as TSI in VW cars). Here in the g-tron, the engine has been mildly modified for gas combustion and slightly detuned. With 109bhp, it is the least powerful of the 1.4-litre Audi/VW motors, but also the most fuel-efficient. By default, the engine starts off on petrol power and switches to CNG when the engine is sufficiently warm. The changeover is imperceptible, even when it is activated manually by the driver. The acceleration is only average, completing the 0-100km/h run in just under 11 seconds. But the 1.4 TFSI is a turbocharged engine that develops a respectable 200Nm of torque. Hence, the g-tron feels more than adequate in urban driving, with spirited mid-range pick-up. According to Audi, the A3 g-tron can run for 400 kilometres on CNG, then automatically switch to petrol for another 900 kilometres. That is an astonishing 1,300 kilometres between fi ll-ups on the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) – enough for two round trips from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. The car’s CO2 rating is a really low 95 grams per kilometre, which would qualify for the maximum CEVS rebate of $20,000. If the A3 g-tron is great for the gas meter man going from house to house, the R8 e-tron would be perfect for billionaire Tony Stark and his Iron Man persona. Good for 215 kilometres on a full charge, Audi’s flagship electric vehicle (EV) has a much shorter range than the CNG-powered Sportback, but is far more sophisticated and complicated. And unlike the A3 g-tron, which is an adaptation of the regular A3, the R8 e-tron only resembles the regular R8 externally – everything else underneath and in detail is irregular automotive innovation. Audi’s exotic electric sports car was first unveiled in 2009 as the “e-tron”, a prototype with the promise of going on sale within four years. But since then, there’s been a change in Audi’s EV game plan, and only 10 newly produced R8 e-trons have been registered for road use. This fleet is meant purely for internal research and development, and none will be available for purchase by wealthy supercar collectors (such as Tony Stark). It looks like a cross between the 2009 e-tron concept and today’s “98 RON” R8s, but the R8 e-tron actually has little in common with them. The whole car is bespoke – body, chassis, suspension and powertrain. Only the “R8” name is shared. Unsurprisingly, Audi Space Frame (ASF) technology has been applied to this special number, but with some variation. The main ASF skeleton is built up in the usual manner, i.e. with aluminium extrusion beams joined by aluminium castings to form the main structure. But unlike the A8’s ASF, whose body panels and in-fills are pressed/formed aluminium sheets, the R8 e-tron’s are made from even lighter CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic). Audi calls this new body construction MSF, or Multimaterial Space Frame. In the interest of maximising the (theoretical) driving range, lightweight construction is a major consideration for any EV. While enlarging the battery cluster will increase its combined charge-capacity, batteries are also high-density components that consume energy in moving their own mass. Therefore, beyond that critical battery size for any given body weight, adding batteries will basically lead to a reduction in range. The electric R8’s liquid-cooled battery pack is made from 530 lithium-ion cells assembled in a T-shaped housing that is 2.3m long, 1.35m wide and 71cm high. It weighs 580kg in total and makes up 32.6 per cent of the car’s kerb weight. The double-wishbone suspension arms at each corner are made from forged aluminium castings. The bigger surprise is that the suspension coil springs are not made from steel or any type of metal, but from glass fibre-reinforced plastic (GFRP). The biggest surprise is that the exquisitely finished, aluminium anti-roll bar in the front is sheathed in shiny carbon fibre. The brake discs are, of course, carbon-ceramic and mounted on titanium alloy (with high strength-to-weight) centre hubs. The vehicle’s most interesting feature, naturally, is its electrical drivetrain. Quattro four-wheel-drive is absent here, so for the first time in a powerful Audi, only two wheels are driven. Each rear wheel has its own 140kW electric motor located longitudinally in the centre of the axle line, and they aren’t mechanically linked. Independently computer-controlled, each motor can deliver the necessary amounts of torque (up to 410Nm instantly) to each wheel depending on the grip and dynamic behaviour of the car. The rear brakes are electro-mechanical (whereas the front brakes are standard hydraulic affairs), and claimed to be quicker and far more accurate in their modulation compared to conventional brakes. At the heart of the R8 e-tron’s handling capability is something called e-vectoring. Unlike the typical ESP (electronic stability programme), which selectively brakes wheels to “kill” a skid, e-vectoring has the added capability to apply torque. No ESP, whether with or without a limited slip differential, can ever inject torque to any driven wheel. With e-vectoring, the R8 e-tron’s electric brakes and “digital” drive motors take vehicular control to a whole new level. Through high-speed twists and turns, e-vectoring works a treat. In a straight line, the car zaps to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds and hits an electronically limited top speed of 200km/h. The R8 e-tron has even set a lap record on the punishing Nurburgring – to be exact, 8 minutes and 9.099 seconds, the current benchmark for so-called “production electric vehicles”. Such stellar performance should be electrifying enough for Iron Man and his friends, we reckon. This article was written by Shreejit Changaroth, freelance writer for Torque.
  16. chitchatboy

    Heavenly Road Pricing

    At long last, after more than a decade of discussion, tests and trials, GPS (global positioning system) satellite-tracked ERP (electronic road pricing) is deemed to be technically feasible here. This makes Singapore the fi rst country in the world to fi nd an “eye-in-the-sky” solution to “pricing” the multitude of vehicles that zip through its thick urban jungle of high-rise buildings and capillary network of roads. All others have failed – or at least, none have arrived at an accuracy level that is acceptable, or devised a model that is cost effective. Germany is about the only place where GPS satellite technology is used for road tolls, but that is isolated to heavy trucks on its autobahns. Even though GPS technology has been around for decades, with onboard navigation now as commonplace as Bluetooth connectivity, a pricing application is a different ball game. The main hurdle has been the “canyon effect” posed by a city’s dense conglomerate of tall structures, which can muddle up signals and lead to incorrect pricing. Considering Singapore’s low tolerance for errors, the conclusion that satellite ERP is now feasible is a remarkable milestone. The development will not only allow us to dismantle the 70-plus ugly blue-and-white gantries that dot our cityscape, it will also allow us access to a host of urban transport solutions that are currently manual and inefficient. These include coupon-less street parking, flexible tariffs for Off-Peak Car usage, recovery of stolen vehicles, and “live” traffi c information feeding an intelligent navigation system (perhaps one that tells you the cost and time of a choice of routes). In fact, such a technology can also be adapted to enforce the law in illegal parking, “catch” certain traffi c violations, and even determine motor insurance premiums, which are adjusted according to the way you drive (i.e. the risk factor). But satellite ERP’s main purpose is more effi cient road pricing, with its killer application being distance-based charging. This is where the Singapore leadership gets to put its political will to the test again.Will the government be bold enough to implement charging-by-distance-driven? Or will satellite ERP be yet another high-tech toy for Land Transport Authority engineers to “play” with? Already, we seem to be witnessing a reluctance to use the gantry-based system to control congestion. The maximum Cashcard deduction of $5 is negligible compared to the depreciation rate of an everyday car (about $30 per day). The preference has been to use upfront measures to keep our roads relatively clear, such as the vehicle quota system and punitive registration taxes. Upfront expenses, once paid, are forgotten, but a beeping in-vehicle unit (IU) is a daily and unpopular reminder. Which is probably why we often see owners of $400,000 limousines stopping by the road shoulder to wait out the remaining minutes of an ERP period. Or for that matter, those who park illegally because they loathe using a 50-cent parking coupon. So, a distance-based congestion pricing system that charges, say, 50 cents or one dollar per kilometre, could be even more unpopular with these people. They also won’t have the opportunity to park illegally or park without paying any more. It would be a shame if the capability of the second-generation ERP system isn’t fully exploited. It would be like buying a Ferrari, only to use it for grocery runs. This article was written by Christopher Tan, consulting editor for Torque.
  17. SGCM_editorial

    Electric Shiok

    Will the petrolhead ever consider an electric “engine” for his next sports car? Perhaps, but in the meantime, here is some encouragement in the form of dynamic driving machines at the cutting-edge of electric-vehicle design and engineering. We hereby discuss the nuts and bolts (plus volts) of creating electric sports cars with the best of “current” automotive technology. A BLESSING AND A KERS Four years ago in 2009, Formula One authorities allowed the incorporation of a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) on F1 racecars. The device uses a battery to energise an electric motor, which gives a momentary boost to the drivetrain for short spurts of acceleration in critical situations, such as when overtaking. The battery was limited in capacity, as was the motor power, so KERS was only available for less than seven seconds per lap. Although rated at a paltry 60kW (equivalent to 80.4bhp), which is barely 10 per cent of an F1 engine’s output, KERS is the closest we ever got to electrical power in Formula One racing. Theoretically, the immediate response and instant maximum torque of an electric motor make it a perfect powerplant for any racecar, not just in Formula One. In any case, there’ll be totally new formulae for F1 engines from the 2014 season onwards, but any F1 fan hoping for some form of pure electric power will be disappointed. For the foreseeable future, the primary racing engines will continue to be reciprocating-piston types with internal combustion, fuelled by either petrol or diesel. However, in every category of international-level championship motor racing, electricity-assisted engines or hybrid powertrains will be an increasingly integral part of the regulations. It should only be a matter of time before we catch fully electric racecars in action. LEADING THE CHARGE The credit for taking the bold first step in producing an everyday electric sports car for general sale is Tesla Motors. Established in 2003, the company has no car-making history and doesn’t possess any motorsport pedigree, but it has been at the forefront of speedy electric motoring for the past decade. Not surprisingly, Tesla started in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, the Californian hotbed of high technology. High-tech but low-slung is the firm’s first product, the Tesla Roadster. Based on the Lotus Elise, it went into series production in 2008. Unlike any Lotus that ever bloomed, however, the groundbreaking Tesla has no engine, no fuel tank/ancillaries, and makes no noise when “idling” at the traffic junction. Mounted in a midship position is a 375- volt AC electric motor, which drives the rear wheels through a single-reduction gearset and a conventional differential. The juice is supplied by lithium-ion batteries, which are claimed to store enough energy on a complete charge to power the car for a distance of 390km. The Tesla Roadster Sport is, to date, the only electric sports car we’ve driven on Singapore roads (back in late 2010). It remains one of our most memorable driving experiences of all time. While the Tesla is nowhere as lithe as a Lotus roadster, because the batteries alone weigh around 450kg (roughly five times heavier than an Elise tank fi lled to the brim with petrol), the Tesla’s instantaneous 400Nm of torque (from zero rpm to 5100rpm) is shockingly effective and simply addictive. It takes less than four seconds to go from a standstill to 100km/h, and its on-the-move acceleration is so amazing that the rest of the traffic alongside seems to “freeze”. All electric cars accelerate briskly, but the Tesla Roadster is in a much faster performance league. ANOTHER ELECTRIFYING PERFORMER The Detroit Electric SP:01 is America’s “other” electric sports car. Curiously, it’s a mid-engined two-seater spun off from the Lotus Elise/Exige, combining carbon fibre bodywork with Lotus’ classic aluminium chassis. All in, the SP:01 weighs a commendably low 1080kg. Its manufacturer has a history much older than that of the 10-year-young Tesla Motors. In fact, Detroit Electric has been around for as long as the motorcar. Established in 1907, nearly a century before Tesla, the company was once the largest producer of electric vehicles (EVs). That was when petrol was very expensive, and internal-combustion engines were noisy and dirty. But the EV pioneer faded into oblivion in the 1930s when petrol became affordable and petrol engines got reliable. The “new” Detroit Electric reemerged in 2008 to manufacture a range of all-electric passenger cars, with the SP:01 being the first. Despite looking uncannily similar to the Tesla Roadster, the SP:01 has some interesting differences. Its mid-mounted motor is rated at 201bhp (Tesla 300bhp) and 225Nm (Tesla 400Nm), while its claimed 0-100km/h timing of 3.7 seconds is identical to that of its rival. The SP:01 has a much higher top speed (249km/h versus 201km/h), but its quoted range is shorter (300km versus 390km), and the newcomer uses a lithium-polymer battery pack, which is arguably more advanced than the Tesla’s lithium-ion cells. Both “engines” are the AC synchronous type, but the SP:01’s drivetrain employs a 4- or 5-speed transmission. This is somewhat perplexing, because a gearbox adds kilogrammes to the otherwise lightweight design and the electric motor’s torque output is consistent, which makes gears unnecessary in the first place. There’s also a 2-speed automatic option. KING OF ZING The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive is a technological tour de force that makes the Detroit Electric SP:01 and Tesla Roadster look like school projects. The special SLS derivative has one motor for each wheel (that would be four motors in total), so it cannot be classified in the conventional sense as front-, rear or mid-engined. Each motor is mounted on the chassis, close to the car’s centre line and with power transmitted to the relevant wheel via a driveshaft. There are no differentials because each motor is computer-controlled to deliver the precise amount of torque to each wheel, whether on a straight road or through a challenging corner. No four-wheel drive system, even one with fancy electronics and clever mechanicals, can offer anything close to the torque-vectoring capability of the electric SLS’ individual wheel motors. Together, the 400-volt AC motors develop 552kW (751bhp) and 1000Nm – safely, promptly and powerfully. Electrical energy for the motor units is provided by a lithium-ion battery cluster housed in a longitudinal carbon-fi bre monocoque that forms the backbone of the SLS. Charged using a domestic 240- volt power point, the batteries require 20 hours to “fill up”, which is claimed to be good for 250km. But this distance will no doubt drop significantly if you exploit the car’s 250km/h (governed) top speed and 3.9sec century sprint timing. ELECTRIC CIRCUIT Like the fuel consumption figures on the windscreen stickers of new cars, the “range” claimed by electric vehicle makers is based on a specific c driving pattern, which is ultimately quite different from real-world motoring conditions. In extreme driving, such as on a racing circuit, none of these electric sports cars is likely to achieve their theoretical “mileage”, because the batteries would deplete so quickly during hard acceleration and high speed bursts that, on the track, these machines would struggle to nudge even 25 per cent of their “full” range. We won’t be seeing electric-powered racecars in F1 or the GT arena anytime soon, but the FIA’s Formula E championship that kicks off next year is an important first step towards a world-class electric racing programme. In the meantime, hybrids are appearing on racetracks and state of- the-art automotive technology is filtering into roadgoing cars, so the novel electric sports car is destined to become a viable proposition for far more early-adopter petrolheads. This article was written by Shreejit Changaroth, freelance writer for Torque.
  18. SGCM_editorial

    Cars vs Buses

    Conventional wisdom tells us that public transport is more efficient than private transport. Transport executives and urban planners will rattle off data in support of this, citing, for instance, that it would take around 30 cars – with an average of two occupants per vehicle – to equal the capacity of a single-deck bus. And of course, the road space taken up by those 30 cars is much more compared to one bus. Common sense also tells us that the argument holds true. If you do a search on the Net, you will also find many counter-arguments, with most of them citing the low occupancy rate of public buses. But these arguments hinge on national figures in fairly large countries, with a mix of rural and urban bus operations. And averages often tell a strange tale. For instance, the average occupancy of public buses in the UK in 2005 was nine. Obviously, a full-sized bus with the capacity for 60 to 70 passengers isn’t going to be very efficient with only nine aboard. It is worse if you factor in the fuel consumption of a full-sized city bus (2.5km to 3km per litre). Against these numbers, the car makes a lot more sense. How will the argument pan out in a highly built-up city state such as Singapore, though? If we go by persistent complaints of crowdedness by commuters, it would seem the asset utilisation of bus fleets here is much higher. Therefore, we can infer that public transport is more efficient than private cars on this sunny island. But is it true? Based on our calculations, it is only the case during peak hours, when buses are generally operating close to full capacity. In off-peak periods, buses have an occupancy level of as low as 20 per cent. Let us look at averages, then. According to the Land Transport Authority, the average bus trip is 4.5km (2011 data). The average number of trips a leading bus company here caters to is 2.6 million a day. Over a year, it caters to 949 million trips, and it uses 130 million to 140 million litres of diesel. To work out the average fuel efficiency of each trip, multiply the annual trips by average trip distance (4.5km) and you will get 4.27 billion km. Divide that by 135 million litres and you will get 31.6km/L. That is efficient, if compared to the average fuel efficiency of an average car with a single occupant (10km/L, according to LTA data). But what if you have two or more occupants per car? The equation becomes vastly different, even if you factor in an average three per cent increase in fuel consumption per additional occupant. If you have four occupants, the car effectively becomes more fuel-efficient than the bus. If you drive a thrifty petrol-electric hybrid like the Toyota Prius, you will need only two occupants in the car to match the fuel efficiency of a bus. But the truth is that not every car here is a Prius, and quite often, it has only one or two occupants. So, the answer to improving the fuel efficiency of driving is to either car-pool or choose a fuel-efficient model like the Prius. What about road space? Even with four people per car, we would need 17 cars to match the capacity of a single-deck bus, or around 30 cars to match the ferrying capacity of a double-decker or bendy bus. Well, cars do not have to travel a fixed route or stick to a fixed schedule like buses, although the state of peak-hour traffic seems to suggest that they do. They can spread out over space and time. And if they do, they will contribute far less to congestion. For cars to be able to spread out over space and time more effectively, we’d essentially require two things: flexible working hours and decentralised urban planning. Singapore currently has neither. It would take years to change the culture to facilitate the former, and decades of innovative town planning to make the latter happen. One last thought: Can Singapore’s population of about 610,000 cars cater to the total 3.4 million bus trips that commuters make a day? With technology and a willingness to share, yes. Singapore’s car population clocks a cumulative 12.2 billion km a year – more than double the total mileage clocked by bus commuters. It is conceivable that half of this 12.2 billion km is travelled in cars occupied by only one or two persons. With a system similar to car-sharing schemes such as Car2go, Zipcar and DriveMyCar, it is possible to match the underutilised car capacity with demand from bus commuters. But until then, buses will continue to fulfil a vital role in our land transport landscape. This article was written by Christopher Tan, consulting editor for Torque.
  19. SGCM_editorial

    Getting Into Gear

    Gears, it seems, are a bit of a nuisance. There is a clutch pedal that the left foot has to depress/release with controlled effort, a lever to move in a gated fashion, and if it all works according to plan, the vehicle is able to continue moving ahead. Get it wrong, and driving a car with a manual gearbox will drive you up the wall. It does take some degree of skill and experience in order to drive smoothly and efficiently with a manual transmission. It can also be immensely rewarding if you master the art of gearchanging, perhaps together with heel-and-toe (an advanced driving technique that deserves its own dissection). But the manual shifting of gears is like a lost art these days, with the Class 3A (automatic-only) driving licence giving learner and rookie drivers alike an easy way out of the “three-pedal problem” since 2005. MANUAL CHRONICLE The traditional manual transmission is as old as the automobile. In its earliest and simplest form, the gearbox was nothing more than engine-driven pulleys of varying sizes on a so-called throughdrive. One of the first proper gearboxes was the 4-speeder in Daimler’s 1889 “wire-wheel” car, but it would be 11 more years to the turn of the century before the physical “box” was formed, i.e. with a single lever in a shift gate to work the gears. Engaging the gears in question was made easier and quieter in the 1930s with the introduction of synchromesh. OPERATING MANUAL A manual transmission uses clutch discs to transmit (hence the term) engine power to the driven wheels, with the gear stick/lever moving a collar to engage different sets of gears underneath. The shift lever is spring loaded to stay in the centre slot until a side force (i.e. your hand changing gears) is applied to the shift knob. The pivoted shift lever would then engage lugs on the control rods that slide forward or backward to move the shift forks, which in turn move the shift collars that lock a gear to the output shaft. Despite the five mentions of “shift” in the preceding paragraph, the only gear that actually shifts is the one for reverse – the other gearsets are engaged when a shift fork forces a shift collar against an already meshed gear, locking it to the rotating output shaft. ROBOT REVOLUTION The robotised manual transmission (also known as an automated manual) was a natural and logical development of the classic “self-service” gearbox. Basically, its clutch operation is performed by an electro-mechanical device, thus “removing” the clutch pedal from the footwell and saving the driver some footwork. But to minimise jerkiness on the move, he needs to make a conscious effort to coordinate the gearshifts with his accelerator inputs. Early versions of the robotised manual, such as the 1997 Mercedes-Benz A-Class’ automatic clutch system and the 1994 Saab 900 Turbo’s short-lived Sensonic, still require the driver to make gearchanges with a H-gate lever. Based on the movement of said lever, the position of the throttle pedal and the engine speed at that point, a computer recognises when the driver wants to change to a higher/lower gear and then an actuator will automatically open and close the clutch using electro-hydraulics. The robotised manuals that came later, such as Alfa Romeo’s Selespeed, Opel’s Easytronic and Ferrari’s exotic “F1” transmission (launched in the F355 Berlinetta), still do not function anywhere as smoothly as a conventional automatic, but they at least offer semi-auto convenience plus the ef􀂿 ciency of a good manual gearbox. It’s cost-effective, too, compared to a typical torque-converter automatic transmission. Today’s state-of-the-art in robotised manuals is the dual-clutch transmission (DCT), popularised by the Volkswagen Group in a massive variety of models that range from the humble Polo to the spectacular Bugatti Veyron. Smoother and significantly faster than the automated single-clutch system covered earlier, the DCT is conceptually similar to an automated manual because it is made up of paired gears in mesh and has a clutch arrangement to couple with the engine. The DCT is costlier and more complex though, with a pair of clutches, each mounted on one of two concentric shafts. Only one clutch is engaged at any one time, although two gears can be selected simultaneously, hence a gearchange becomes effectively just the disengagement of one clutch and the engagement of another. This results in a seamless delivery of power. Despite the popularity and proven technology of the dual-clutch transmission, the single-clutch automated manual is still very much in business. And what a business it has been in recent years, with Ferrari, Lamborghini and Lexus using a robotised manual gearbox for their supercars – 599 GTB/GTO, Murcielago/ Aventador and LFA respectively. The internals of these “super” transmissions are no different from those of a conventional manual ’box, but their shift speeds (thanks to rapid-response actuators) are a match for the DCT and, more crucially, quicker than even the most skilful driver. GENERATION SEVEN Meanwhile, the pure manual gearbox continues to exist. Europeans, especially, still love their clutch pedal-and-gear lever, so there is a wide choice of cars and vans available in Europe with 5- or 6-speed manuals. Now, there is also a 7-speed manual gearbox, but it’s a rare thing, with currently just two cars in the world so equipped. Unsurprisingly, both are sports models – the Porsche 911 and the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Seven gears mean the first six gear ratios can be stacked closer together, while seventh can be “sized” as a cruising gear to keep engine speeds low at high road speeds. Of course, there’s a limit to how low the revolutions-per-minute (rpm) can go, because the engine has to operate at a speed where enough torque is produced to overcome resistance, especially aerodynamic drag and ascending inclines. On a deserted country road with undulating terrain and plenty of curves, where short bursts of acceleration and frequent downshifts are the norm, these 7-speed sports cars are likely to be driven with only six or maybe just the first five gears. Seventh is fi ne as a fuel-saving highway ratio, but having/managing 8 or 9 speeds in a manual gearbox can be quite tedious, which is why we may never see a manual transmission with more than seven forward ratios. In the case of Porsche’s “991” 911, a built-in gearbox lock-out ensures seventh gear can only be selected via sixth or fifth. Regardless of its gear count, the good old manual transmission will keep going for many years yet, thanks to its relative simplicity, comparative low cost, minimal maintenance requirements and almost endless service life. This article was written by Shreejit Changaroth, freelance writer for Torque.
  20. SGCM_editorial

    Vehicular Airbender

    By the time a spacecraft leaves the last layer of Earth’s atmosphere, it no longer needs to be streamlined, because out in space there is very little air to provide any resistance. In fact, there are so few air molecules way “up there” that even the sun’s rays have nothing to reflect off – which is why outer space, as we know it, perpetually appears to be night. The air down here on Planet Earth consists predominantly of nitrogen and oxygen, with an average density of 1.2kg per cubic metre. That’s enough to reflect light and, yes, enough to create “buoyancy” for aeroplanes to fly on. It’s also enough to impede motion – an effect better known as aerodynamic resistance. AIR-SSENTIALS Air, like any gas or liquid, is technically classified as a fluid because it can flow over, below or around a solid object. In extreme conditions, fast-moving air (or a “full-blown” wind) can exert a tremendous force. That it can propel a sailboat illustrates the power of air in motion. Wind resistance and the behaviour of air around a moving car are critical aspects of automotive design, because they affect fuel economy, driving stability and cruising refinement. Motor vehicles, of course, travel on terra firma, but they still have to move through air. Any object moving along is opposing forces exerted by air, which increase as the speed of movement rises. The laws of physics have defined the drag (or resistance) due to air to be proportional to the square of the speed. What this means is that if the speed is doubled, drag increases by four times (i.e. 2 x 2), and if speed is tripled, drag increases by a factor of nine (i.e. 3 x 3), and so on. Drag consumes kinetic energy and compromises the car’s efficiency. AIR-BRACADABRA There are still plenty of unknowns that surround the scientific analysis of moving air. The underlying reason is that air, though gaseous in state, is nonetheless a fluid. In its worst form, such as a hurricane or a tornado, moving air has enough power to uproot trees and devastate buildings. Even today, the physical predictability of wind remains a dark science. There are very few “magicians” who know exactly how air behaves (or misbehaves) over a moving object, and they are somehow able to manipulate said behaviour. One of them is Adrian Newey, Red Bull F1’s chief engineer and possibly the world’s top automotive aerodynamicist. That Newey’s scalp is devoid of any turbulence-inducing hair might not be a mere coincidence! AIR-FFICIENCY A smooth, uninterrupted surface is practically impossible to achieve with a vehicle body because of the need for ventilation apertures, windscreens, windows, wheels and tyres, door handles, door mirrors etc, all of which are culprits of drag. And cars need to look good, or at least presentable. Seriously, would you drive an egg-on-wheels or an Audi R8? That is the conflict between dynamic styling and aerodynamic efficiency. There is yet another aspect of automotive aerodynamics that throws a spanner in the works – “aerodynamic instability”. While it’s true that a slick, low-drag shape is ideal for cutting cleanly through the air, the aerodynamic forces underneath, overhead and along the sides of the car give rise to lift, which is destabilising. It’s actually more complicated than that. Everywhere along the airstreams, various changes in characteristics take place, resulting in forces of different magnitude and direction acting at different places on the car. This is what causes instability and drag. For instance, air that fl ows over the bonnet and roof increases in velocity, and according to the physics of fl uid dynamics, an increase in velocity causes an inverse effect on pressure. Hence, on the upper surface of the car, there will be less force per unit area than under the car, where the air takes a less deviated route and thus experiences little or no drop in velocity. The nett force acts upwards, causing “lift”. At the same time, every surface on the vehicle that protrudes perpendicular to the direction of travel (basically everything you see head-on in 2-D) is drag-inducing. There is no running away from the fact that the various protrusions have a direct effect on drag. In other words, a smaller “face” and skinnier tyres create less aerodynamic resistance. AIR COMMAND Major motor manufacturers have spent hundreds of millions on wind-tunnel tests and facilities to develop aerodynamically effi cient vehicles. However, in order to alleviate the undesirable effects of moving air on a motorcar, certain compromises to outright aerodynamic efficiency have to be made. The cleanest car shapes in the business have barely any spoilers or fi ns – at least none that are visible. They are the result of top-notch wind tunnel work and fi rst-class engineering. Of course, coupes and supercars are much easier for aerodynamicists to “tune” compared to conventional saloons and SUVs, thanks to the sporty models’ lower frontal areas, tapering extremities, and smaller gaps between the undercarriage and the tarmac. Regardless of body shape and product type, an automaker that can take command of the air, so to speak, will be able to optimise both aerodynamic efficiency and overall stability. This article was written by Shreejit Changaroth, freelance writer for Torque.
  21. SGCM_editorial

    Towards fairer car taxation

    Judging from public reaction to the drastic twin measures announced in February to cool the car market, people arent happy. It is ironic, though, since at least one move which limits the motor loan quantum to 50 per cent (or 60 per cent if the cars OMV is $20,000 or less) and halves the maximum loan tenure from 10 years to five had been suggested by many consumers in the past several months. Their reasoning: it would cool overheated COE prices. This is history repeating itself. When the Government first introduced measures to curb car loans back in 1995, it was on the back of persistent calls by the public (COE prices had breached $100,000 just weeks earlier). But when the curbs were implemented, people were unhappy. History has also shown that loan restrictions can be overcome. Before the first set of loan curbs were lifted in 2003, financial institutions and car firms were already bypassing the restrictions, and attempts by the authorities to put a stop to schemes such as balloon payment and overtrade were largely unsuccessful. In any case, the government decided to deregulate the car loans market in 2003, only to reintroduce it two months ago (February) in a more severe form. This loan restriction accompanies a tiered ARF (Additional Registration Fee) scheme that places higher taxes on higher-end cars. While this measure will put some downward pressure on COE prices, it has a Robin Hood element it makes the rich pay more, and few folks will argue against that principle. But heres the thing. The tiered ARF scheme which levies a 100 per cent tax on the fi rst $20,000 of a cars OMV (open market value), 140 per cent on the next $30,000 band and 180 per cent on values above $50,000 works best when OMVs are correct. Many OMVs do not seem correct. In the 1990s and 2000s, the authorities moved swiftly to tackle tax cheats who underdeclared their OMVs. A string of motor traders were fi ned or jailed. Of late, however, those taken to task over OMVs have been relatively small players, mainly parallel importers. Does this mean the playing fi eld is largely even? It is doubtful. The OMVs of some new cars are inordinately low when compared to similar (or even inferior) rivals, while others have fallen inexplicably when a manufacturer assumes an importers role. A car with a lower OMV offers its seller a distinct advantage, simply because car taxes are based on OMVs. A model with a lower OMV allows the seller to price it more competitively than its rivals. It also offers the seller a fatter profit margin, allowing him more muscle to outbid others for the all-important COE (certificate of entitlement). Now, with the tiered ARF scheme, the advantage of a lower OMV is amplified. For instance, the OMV of a certain popular German luxury saloon is around $49,800, while that of its close competitor is $52,200. Under the tiered scheme, the former will incur $8,500 more in ARF, while the latter will incur $13,750 more. The difference between the pair is thus $5,250 under the new tiered scheme more than double the gap in the previous flat ARF regime. In absolute terms, this gap can get frighteningly wide as you rise up the automotive totem pole in Singapore. If the authorities do not act with speed and fervour, the wide gaps in ARF between cars might erode the social equity which the tiered ARF scheme aims to re-establish. As is, the tiered ARF scheme is already expected to be fairer when it comes to bidding for a COE. The additional cost that a premium model incurs in the way of ARF should help level the playing field for such a car and a budget model in the same COE category. In recent years, theres been hardly any contest between cars like the 1.6-litre Mercedes-Benz C180 and the 1.6-litre Toyota Corolla Altis, which explains why the German make, along with its arch-rival BMW, have been dominating the top spots on the local sales charts. What will level the playing field further would be a revamp of the COE categories to align them with the tiered ARF bands This article was written by Christopher Tan, consulting editor for Torque.
  22. SGCM_editorial

    Driving Scorecard

    In March 1983, the Traffic Police replaced the PDS (Points Demerit System) with the DIPS (Driver Improvement Points System). Under the former, stricter scheme, Singaporean motorists who accumulated 12 demerit points in a year would have their driving licences revoked. Under DIPS, however, a driver would only lose his licence if he racked up 24 points within two years. New drivers who’d just passed their driving test, on the other hand, still had to abide by “PDS rules” – their licences would be revoked if they amassed more than 12 demerit points within 12 months. But the leniency of DIPS compared to PDS soon attracted criticism. The AAS (Automobile Association of Singapore), for one, was concerned that it might cause some good drivers to go bad, since they had more points to “play” around with. Singapore’s Traffic Police (TP), however, hoped that the doubling of the points and allotted time period would not only give some allowance to motorists who might have unintentionally committed traffic offences, but also persuade repeat offenders to “self-correct” before it was too late. In any case, TP made the penalties for certain offences even stiffer under DIPS – for example, beating the red light used to mean a $150 fine (for light vehicles) and six demerit points, but these were raised to $200 and 12 demerit points respectively after the DIPS was amended in 2000. The scheme had been extended to foreigners the year before, creating a fairer playing field for every motorist who uses our roads regularly. To incentivise motorists to practise good driving habits, any demerit points accumulated under the DIPS scheme will be erased if the driver stays “clean” for the 12 months following his last offence. Any suspensions, too, would be wiped off his driving record if he remains offence-free for two years from the time his licence was suspended. Speaking of which, if your driving suspension is for a year or longer, you’ll have to earn it back later on by passing the theory and practical exams all over again. The best incentive by far is the Certificate of Merit, given to every motorist who maintains a clean driving record for three years straight. This reward entitles him to a five per cent discount on his car insurance premium upon renewal, in addition to any No-Claims bonus, provided his insurer participates in this scheme and he didn’t file any policy claims during the last three years. This article was written by Jeremy Chua, writer for Torque.
  23. SGCM_editorial

    The ABCs of 'D'

    While both petrol and diesel engines are essentially reciprocating-piston, internal combustion machines, the fuels in question aren’t interchangeable because there is a fundamental difference in the way the combustion is initiated. For this reason, the two engine types are designed and constructed differently. Both, however, have powered automobiles, in one form or another, for over a century. During much of those 100-odd years, diesel was always the poorer cousin of petrol – being the preferred propellent for trucks, buses, taxis and locomotives. Diesel fuel was much cheaper than petrol, too, while diesel-fuelled engines were noisy, smoky and slow, earning them a decidedly working-class reputation. Well, the world is no longer the same, and technology has changed for the better. SAME STROKES, DIFFERENT STOKES Like a typical petrol engine, a diesel engine follows the 4-stroke principle of reciprocating pistons – intake, compression, ignition, exhaust. As such, the crankshaft, pistons, valves, camshaft and injectors are all present. Conspicuously absent, however, is the spark plug, because in a diesel engine, ignition to initiate combustion occurs when the fuel is injected into highly compressed air. This is why it is also called a compression-ignition (CI) engine. The air-fuel mixture in a petrol (or spark-ignition) engine is maintained at a fixed ratio (roughly 14:1 by mass). It is this mixture that’s ignited by the spark plug near the end of the piston’s compression stroke. In a diesel engine, however, only air is compressed inside the cylinder, but to a pressure four times higher, achieved by the high compression ratio. What results is a chamber containing air pressurised to about 80 bar (80 times the atmospheric pressure around us) and with a temperature of at least 700 deg C, both of which are conditions ideal for diesel fuel to self-ignite without the need for a spark. And this is exactly what happens when the high pressure (which creates that familiar diesel clatter). There is no throttle on the intake manifold, and power delivery is solely a function of fuel quantity injected. ALL TORQUE, ALL ACTION The biggest revelation to motorists who only “know” petrol would be the modern turbo-diesel car’s astonishing mid-range acceleration. Terrific torque at low-to- medium engine revs is the secret here, and it makes city driving surprisingly shiok. Even the most highly tuned diesel engines rarely rev past 5000rpm, with the vast majority of today’s diesel passenger cars developing their maximum energy at around 4000rpm. But with massive amounts of torque appearing very early in the engine speed range, a good turbo-diesel car doesn’t need to rev high. It’s very efficient, too, by internal combustion standards. High compression, usually more than 15:1, plays a key role in this. With turbocharging, the increased effective compression ratio in a diesel engine leads to even greater expansion of gases in the combustion chamber. In other words, more work is done, and since Newton-metre (Nm) is the measure of said work, the rotating crankshaft ultimately develops more torque thanks to the turbo (or turbos, if the engine is equipped with more than one). While the specific power output is limited by a diesel plant’s relatively low engine speeds, a typical 2-litre turbodiesel’s peak torque output easily matches or betters that of a turbo petrol 2-litre. For instance, Mercedes’ 3-litre turbo-diesel V6 generates 619Nm, which compares favourably to the 618Nm produced by the automaker’s 6.2-litre AMG V8! ALWAYS WORKING HARD All that work done by the turbo-diesel means the hardware has to be able to cope. High compression, high pressures, high temperatures and “spontaneous” ignition require a reinforced engine block, stronger valvetrains and a more robust cylinder head. The reliability and durability of diesel is also “helped” by its history of “heavy duty” use in commercial vehicles. Today, the diesel clatter continues to be heard from compression-ignition engines, but “behind” the unsophisticated noise is advanced technology such as turbocharging, ultra-high pressure injection (1700-2000 bar), high-precision fuel metering, catalytic converters, soot filters and computer controlled engine management. These devices and systems have made the modern diesel engine powerful, economical and, believe it or not, even desirable. This article was written by Shreejit Changaroth, freelance writer for Torque.
  24. SGCM_editorial

    Vehicle Dollars and Sense

    Buying a car in Singapore is both exciting and nerve-racking, for the joy of having your own set of wheels is accompanied by the toil of paying for it by instalments. Before you sign on the dotted line, think carefully about these: THE RIGHT MACHINE Buy the vehicle you need and not the one you want, because the latter usually ends up costing you more than it’s worth. It doesn’t matter if you’re a petrolhead – if you have two toddlers, for instance, it’s more practical to get a saloon instead of that sporty coupe you’ve been eyeing. BUDGET CONSTRAINTS According to a financial consultant who spoke to Torque, you should allocate no more than 35 per cent of your monthly income to servicing loans. Assuming that 20 per cent of your salary goes towards your home mortgage, you’re left with just 15 per cent for your car loan. So if you draw $3,000 a month, your monthly car instalment shouldn’t exceed $450. ‘HIDDEN’ COSTS These motoring-related expenses aren’t obvious upfront, but definitely make a big impact on your wallet. Parking, petrol, road tax and motor insurance can be a drain on your finances. For example, year-long season parking in an HDB multi-storey carpark would cost $1,080 ($90 x 12 months). That sum alone is more than the annual road tax for a 1.6-litre petrol car. TEN-YEAR TEMPTATION Although it appears more affordable, choosing a 10-year, 100 per cent car loan is actually a decision you can ill afford. Zero downpayment means a larger loan quantum that takes longer to repay, and the total interest in the long run will be higher. Car buyers should also be aware that longer loan tenures mean that their ride will be in negative equity for a longer period. This article was written by Jeremy Chua, writer for Torque.
  25. SGCM_editorial

    Electronic Eyewitness

    Accidents can happen, no matter how much effort we put into avoiding them. All it takes is for another motorist to make a careless error, and even the most skilled and careful driver can end up in a fender-bender. Minor mishaps used to be less stressful. If the incident left the vehicles in question with minor scratches or small dents, the matter could be quickly (and privately) settled if one party compensated the other. You only needed to inform your insurer if the damage was bad. But things changed. In 2008, the GIA (General Insurance Association of Singapore) introduced the MCF (Motor Claims Framework), which requires all policyholders to report every accident - no matter how minor - to their insurer. This regulation came about as a result of the growing number of drivers who would later file exaggerated claims for “grievous injuries” sustained in accidents. To cope with the higher payouts that were affecting their bottom line, insurance firms started charging steeper premiums to all motorists – even those who had never made a claim weren’t spared. For protection, drivers began installing in-car cameras in their vehicles, using the recorded footage (which is typically stored on SD or micro SD cards) to combat fraudulent claims fi led against them by unscrupulous parties. The popularity of in-car cameras also took off following that infamous Ferrari accident - which was captured by a taxi’s in-car recorder - at the junction of Victoria Street and Rochor Road last year TIP 1: Pixels Matter The first and most important consideration when it comes to choosing an in-car camera is its resolution, which is expressed in terms of the number of pixels per square inch. A device with a 1080i format is definitely better than one only capable of 720i, because having more pixels per square inch means clearer videos. It would be best, however, to opt for a HD (high-definition) camera, which has a resolution of 1080p. The difference between 1080i and 1080p lies in their playback – the “i” rating in the former refers to interlaced video, while the “p” in the latter refers to progressive scan. For non-geeks who rarely venture into the “hardware zone”, interlaced video tends to flicker when replayed in slow motion, while progressive scan delivers sharper images, especially when it comes to fast-moving or night sequences. One can imagine the advantages of HD, especially when the footage is used as evidence. HD-format cameras can cost as little as $150. TIP 2: Vantage Points Another vital feature to consider is how wide the camera’s lens angle is. Because you want to capture as much as possible, opt for a device with a field of vision of at least 120 degrees. If you mount the camera in the middle of your windscreen just in front of the rear view mirror, you should at least be able to see a bit of space on either side of your vehicle’s bonnet. Alternatively, you can position the camera higher up on the windscreen to expand the viewing angle. TIP 3: Motion Detection For car owners concerned with vehicle security, it would be wise to invest in a camera that can be activated via its motion sensor. Basically, the camera stays “asleep” and only “wakes up” and begins recording when there is continuous movement (usually for 20 seconds or more) near the car. This could prove useful in helping nab vandals keen on “sharing” their artwork with vehicle owners. The drawback to this function is that most cameras have a short battery life, and hooking them up to your car could render your vehicle’s battery flat the following day. Either way, this means limited recording times. TIP 4: Satellite Tracking Though not absolutely necessary, some firms have introduced cameras that are GPS-enabled, to help in more accurately pinpointing a vehicle’s location and even its speed when the accident occurred. You’re likely to find this function in cameras with shock sensors, which can supposedly detect when a collision has occurred. When triggered, devices with these sensors will usually save the video in a separate folder, which facilitates evidence gathering. Whichever in-car camera you choose, remember that the gadget is a double-edged sword: The recorded footage could clear you of any wrongdoing, but it could also put you This article was written by Jeremy Chua, writer for Torque.