Friday November 24, 2006
Great little MitsWhen it comes to innovation it is hard to look past Mitsubishi's new "i" mini car and the reason is simple: Mitsubishi basically took every accepted idea and discarded it to create the little jigger. From the outside it looks like your average baby five-door hatchback. Under the skin though it's a whole different story. The engine has been moved from under the bonnet to under the back seat in a mid-rear layout that puts it ahead of the rear axle. The platform design is claimed to give the car increased multi-directional impact safety and the external changes have allowed Mitsubishi's designers more freedoms with exterior lines. Which all explains why "i" has been named Car of the Year by Japan's Automotive Researchers' and Journalists' Conference whose 62 judges last week put the tiny Mits at the head of a 25-strong field of domestic cars. Mitsubishi Australia displayed the car at this year's Melbourne Motor Show and hinted that it may be a starter here in the future. Sir Alec's legacyIf Mini designer Sir Alec Issigonis had not passed away in 1988 he would have been 100 last Saturday. Greek-born Sir Alec moved to England in 1922 and started working for the Morris Car Company before the outbreak of World War Two. While he was designing army vehicles during the war he also thought of post-war transport and designed the Morris Minor. When the Suez Crisis of 1956 highlighted the need for fuel-efficient cars he created the Mini which, while it was not the first front-wheel-drive vehicle, was certainly the most prolific, economical and affordable up to that point. Sir Alec believed hard seats kept drivers awake and apparently hated luxury items in cars including, on the first Minis at least, internal door handles and wind-down windows. Praise for PuntoFiat's Punto has been winning friends in the UK media. First the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers named it their Car of the Year ahead of Renault's Clio and Peugeot's 207, the judges deciding its keen pricing (in Scotland, note), wide range of frugal engines (ditto) and "striking sense of styling" made it a clear winner. Just days later the respected Autocar magazine gave the car its 2006 Design Award, praising the "funky interiors, decent quality, the usual excellent packaging and keen prices". What a beautyAnd sticking with the "of the year" theme, Audi's new TT coupe was awarded the title of the Most Beautiful Car in the World at German magazine Auto Bild's design awards.TT was not the only Audi to get a gong with the Q7 SUV and the Shooting Brake concept also winning tin. The sexy coupe, by the way, had a double victory, also winning the readers' choice section. Audi design chief Walter de Silva accepted the awards. New TV line-upNational motorsport changes networks (from Ten to Seven) next year and the Formula Ford championship, Australia's premier open-wheel racing category, returns to television after an absence of many years, providing a welcome change for those wishing for something other than wall-to-wall V8 Supercars. So if you need to start marking the calender here are the 2007 championship dates and venues: March 1-4, Adelaide (SA); March 23-25, Barbagallo (WA); May 18-20, Winton (Vic); June 9-11, Eastern Creek (NSW); July 19-22, Queensland Raceway; September 14-16, Sandown (Vic); November 16-18, Symmons Plains (Tas); November 30-December 2, Phillip Island (Vic).
© 2006 Illawarra Mercury