Innovative Design For Those Who Are Driven: The 2006 BMW 3 Series

By , December 9, 2017 7:53 pm


What happens when you combine a blistering fast engine, with a lightweight body, and a refined interior cabin? The car that results is weird science done right, and the very embodiment of the 2007 BMW 3 Series ?a well designed, highly engineered sports car with a soul. Although the Hybrid is coming in 2008, the 2007 BMW 3 Series is a valid antidote to the conformity of modern life.

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BMW will tell you it isn’t so, but the new 3 Series is the start of a softening of Chris Bangle’s most angular design language. The car you see is not an evolution of an existing car but a ground up model, an energetic attempt to re-invent the most popular BMW model with unarguably good looks that match its top class driving dynamics.

The first thing you notice is that the car has dropped the current teardrop headlamps and done away with the aircraft carrier trunk lid. Next to go are the cut lines and the aggressive mix of concave and convex panels. It’s still recognizably a BMW though. The big news underneath is the new multitude independent suspension (borrowed from the 5 series) is designed to combine unrivalled ride comfort, with taut handling. On top of that you can expect Dynamic Drive (that’s adjustable anti-roll bars), Active Steering? and a four wheel drive system as options. The fifth generation BMW 3 Series superstar shines brighter than the predecessor with a torque loving, direct injection, and environmentally conscious engine. (Don’t rule out a hybrid just yet ?by 2009 BMW’s partnership with DaimlerChrysler and GM will have born a fruit, enabling the Germans to catch up with Lexus.) Additionally, the new 3 Series features increased passenger room and enhanced safety features.

Step inside the cabin of the 2006 BMW 3 Series, you’ll find the interior has an instinctive feel to it; every switch and readout is ergonomically placed for a reason, where you will look for it. The surrounding materials are made from high quality wood, leather and plastics enhancing the appeal of this sports machine. The seats offer ample support to the lower back and thigh while enhancing the body’s disposition for spirited driving. And the intuitively placed center display rewards the enthusiast spirit by enabling the driver to easily read every dial and be in touch with the engine.

Turn the key and put the car in gear, you’ll find the car engineered to move. The smooth delivery of speed is exhilarating. The engine pulls like a conditioned sprinter all the way up to its 6800 redline. The real joy is experiencing the sound of the engine. The loud, visceral scream is clean and mechanical, distinct from any muffler or aftermarket accessory. Additionally, the optional Active Steering?reduces steering inputs at high speed and increases inputs at low speeds, enhancing the overall tactile responsiveness of the car. The 2006 BMW 3 Series features the first magnesium block engine to reduce engine weight. The new inline six-cylinder produces 215 horsepower in the 325; and 255 horsepower in the 330i. Linear velocity is smooth due to BMW’s revolutionary Valvetronic?system that helps the engine breathe more efficiently even at low RPMs. To experience more fully, simply find an open road and press the accelerator.

In terms of handling and cornering, the 2006 BMW 3 Series also features a perfect 50:50 front to rear weight distribution, making it extremely responsive in turns and at the limits. The rear wheels provide the thrust while the front steers the vehicle with exceptional feedback. The new suspension with double-joint aluminum control arms in front and a five-link fully independent system in the rear is borrowed from the larger 5 Series. Additionally, the new 3 Series also features BMW’s most sophisticated Dynamic Stability Control?with more sensors to monitor and enhance the ride.

For those of you who prefer the stick shift, the 2006 BMW 3 Series transmission and gears have also been refined; a six speed manual, an optional six speed automatic, or the six speed electro-hydraulic Sequential Manual Gearbox?(SMG) are three very promising choices. The SMG is a manual with no clutch pedal, a welcome relief for the enthusiast drivers who prefers sporty shifting but dislikes using the clutch in toe-to toe traffic.

Additionally, the 2006 3 Series builds on BMW’s lineage on passive and active safety by adding advanced, intelligent safety systems. The passive safety begins with BMW’s rigid “safety cage?that surrounds the occupant with deformable energy absorbing tubes. In case of an extreme crash, impact energy is absorbed and routed around the passenger cabin. Sensors throughout the car measure crash severity and deploy airbags as needed. Six airbags are on hand to shield occupants from harm, two in front and the rest as part of the side curtain that protects from the A-pillar in front to the C-pillar at rear. All BMW 3s are also equipped with Dynamic Brake Control?which is designed to help you stop more quickly during emergency braking. Brake sensors determine how forcefully you step on the brake pedal and apply maximum braking power to stop the car if needed.

As BMW’s most successful model, the 3 Series was first introduced in 1977, and now accounts for 40 percent of all sales worldwide. Gradually, the car has formed a loyal following. To meet enthusiast driver’s individualistic needs, the 2006 3 Series is available in nine iterations: 325i sedan, 325xi sedan, 325Ci coupe, 325Ci convertible, 325xi sports wagon, 330i sedan, 330xi sedan, 330Ci coupe and the 330Ci convertible, with MSRP ranging from $30,900 to $44,900. Although not available as a Hybrid yet, the 2006 BMW 3 Series averages 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway to successfully reinvent a top automotive performer.

Porsche Before Porsche: Ferdinand’s First Fifty Years

By , December 5, 2017 3:19 am


Ferdinand Porsche was around 72 years old when the first hand-made, hand-beaten Porsche 356 rolled down the road at Gmund. It was 1948 but Porsche had started his career before the turn of the century. Just what was he doing for his first fifty years?
The answer is, designing some of the top motoring icons and fastest cars of the twentieth century, and these were cars most people would never associate with the name Porsche.

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Ferdinand Porsche was around 72 years old when the first hand-made, hand-beaten Porsche 356 rolled down the road at Gmund. It was 1948 but Porsche had started his career before the turn of the century.

Just what was he doing for his first fifty years?

The one word answer is “plenty? A slightly longer answer is designing some of the top motoring icons and fastest cars of the twentieth century. Or, getting all the experience, knowledge and skills needed to produce one of the hottest and most charismatic lines of sports cars in the world.

It all started in the late nineteenth century. Porsche’s father was a tinsmith, but young Ferdinand preferred the new-fangled electricity. He worked for an electrical equipment manufacturer before designing electric automobiles for Lohner. The Lohner-Porsche, with electric motors in the front wheel hubs, (one of the first front-wheel drives), was exhibited at the Paris exhibition in 1900 and won a Grand Prize for 25 year old Porsche.

Porsche kept developing the Lohner. Motors in all four hubs made it one of the earliest four-wheel drives and a petrol engine and generator instead of batteries made it one of the first mixed drive vehicles. Porsche himself raced one of the petrol-electric cars.

In 1905, Porsche moved from Lohner to Austro-Daimler where he became technical Director, and later Managing Director. His first petrol car there was developed into the sports model that won the 1910 Prince Henry Trial.

Cars weren’t the only mechanical designs of the self-taught automotive genius. In 1912 he designed a four-cylinder aero engine. Its layout was a flattened X, almost a flat four.

World War I had Porsche working for the military, designing gun tractors, motorized artillery pieces and an enormous road train carrying an 81-ton gun and pulling four trailers each with eight-wheel drive. Total weight was 150 tons! It used the Lohner-Porsche method of electric motors in the hubs with a 20 liter, 150 hp traction engine providing the power.

In 1917 he received an honorary doctorate from Vienna Technical University.

Porsche turned to small cars after WWI, designing the Sascha, which could hit 89 mph with a tiny 1100 cc engine. These cars came first and second in their class in the 1921 Targa Florio. However, differences of opinion with other directors of Austro-Daimler led to a move to Daimler in Stuttgart, as Technical Director with a seat on the board.

Here Porsche fixed the poor performance of Daimler’s new two-liter supercharged race car, which went on to take the first three places in its class in the 1924 Targa Florio, including first place overall. Porsche was awarded another honorary doctorate, this time from Stuttgart University for his achievements.

At Daimler he designed one of the most famous cars of all time, the seven-liter six-cylinder supercharged Mercedes which progressed through the K and S series to the SS, SSK and SSKL. These cars dominated racing in 1928-30. As well, he worked on diesel engines for trucks and airplane engines.

Daimler merged with Benz in 1926, and the combined board rejected Porsche’s push for small and light Daimler-Benz cars. Porsche quit and moved to Steyr where he designed a large luxury car with a 5.3-liter straight-eight.

Steyr collapsed in the great depression though, and in 1930 Porsche was unemployed.

At the age of 55, when many people these days are taking early retirement, Porsche opened his own design bureau with a select group of engineers that he had previously worked with, including his own son Ferdinand “Ferry?Porsche.

His first job was the Wander W.17, a small medium-priced six-cylinder car. A small car for Zundapp followed. Named the Volksauto, it was an early ancestor of the Beetle, with a rear-mounted radial engine and fully independent suspension. It didn’t go into production because of an upturn in Zundapp’s normal market of motorcycles.

In 1932 Russia offered Porsche the job of State Designer. It was an attractive offer, but he turned it down.

Another tilt at a small car came from NSU. The Zundapp was dusted of to give the basic ideas, but this time a flat-four air-cooled engine was used at the rear, along with torsion bar suspension and swing axles at the back. Three prototypes were built before the project was abandoned, but the VW Beetle was getting closer.

Hot racing cars were still on the drawing board, with the Porsche team building a real monster for Auto-Union. It had a 4.4 liter supercharged V16 mounted at the back. With the weight at the back, swing axles, skinny tires and tremendous power, (it’s reported they could spin the wheels at 100 mph) these cars were a handful to drive, but they won races!

Meanwhile, Hitler was also gaining tremendous power, and one of his ideas was for a “people’s car? Porsche got the job of designing it, and all his previous experience went into the best selling car ever, the Volkswagen Beetle. Three Beetles were turned into lightweight sports coupes for the proposed 1939 Berlin-Rome road race.

The race never took place because the Second World War started.

During WWII the Beetle was turned into the Kubelwagen, the German equivalent of the Jeep. Porsche designed the Tiger, Ferdinand and Maus Tanks, which all used the mixed drive with an internal combustion engine driving hub-mounted electric motors.

The war ended and the French threw Professor Porsche, son Ferry, and son-in-law Anton Piech in prison as war criminals. (Totally unfounded). Ferry was released after a few months but the Professor was kept with France demanding 1 million Francs for his release.

Ferry and the design bureau took on new projects to pay the money. When the Professor was released, the design of the very first Porsche branded sports car was well under way. This car was the 356, the start of a line of exciting thoroughbreds which are some of the most desirable sports cars in the world today.

Ferdinand Porsche may have had a humble start in life but he was an automotive genius and for half a century he designed some of the most magnificent machinery ever. The Porsche cars of today continue his legacy.

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