Power to move

Posted on March 24th, 2007 in Opinion,Power by Julian Edgar

108228_2mg.jpgThe other day when I had Frank the EF Falcon on the ChipTorque dyno, I did something pretty interesting. But first, some background.

I’ve installed in the Falcon the trip computer that’s normally fitted to higher trim models. It displays all the usual trip computer stuff – average fuel economy, average speed, and so on. It also displays instantaneous fuel consumption.

From watching this display a lot, I know that at an indicated 110 km/h on a level freeway (actually 105 km/h when a speedo correction is applied), the instantaneous fuel consumption figure fluctuates between 7 and 8 litres/100 km. (Unfortunately, the instantaneous display doesn’t have any decimal places.) Over a long distance in these conditions, the average is 7.5 litres/100 – so that instantaneous number makes sense.

On the dyno it was easy to dial up an indicated 110 km/h and then increase the load until the instantaneous consumption figure was fluctuating between 7-8 kilometres/100. Then it was just a case of reading off the dyno screen how much power was being absorbed at the wheels. The answer was 13kW.

So, in the Falcon, it takes 13kW to propel the car along level ground at an actual speed of 105 km/h.

Going the wrong way in the ride/handling compromise

Posted on March 10th, 2007 in Handling,Opinion,Suspension by Julian Edgar

Click for larger image There are a few ways of regarding the comments I am about to write. One perspective is that they’re the ramblings of an old, out of touch man who prefers comfort to handling. Another is that I am stuck in the past, ignoring the advances that are self-evident – well, to all but apparently me.

But I think that most car manufacturers are on the wrong track with their current ride/handling compromise.

Having a car that handles competently is important. No one wants to see people spear off the road when they make a minor error; no one wants to see new cars being sold that squeal and wail and wallow their way around corners. But the opposite extreme – cars that are built to handle road conditions and driving behaviour that nearly all will simply never see – is almost as silly. Why? Well, every time you’re in a car, you’re being subjected to its ride – whether that’s good, bad or awful. And while it may be possible to produce cars that both handle and ride well, in the vast majority of production cars, better handling means a worse ride.