350kW and 0-100 km/h in 4.6 seconds

Posted on March 24th, 2009 in AutoSpeed,Driving Emotion,Intercooling,Power by Julian Edgar

Today I was lucky enough to drive an interesting car.

A 2003 model AMG Mercedes Benz E55, it comes standard with a supercharged 5.4 litre, 3-valves-per-cylinder V8 boosted by a Lysholm compressor spinning at up to 23,000 rpm and pushing air through a water/air intercooler.

Lies, damned lies and statistics!

Posted on March 19th, 2009 in AutoSpeed,Driving Emotion,Opinion by Julian Edgar

From here:

Although sometimes attributed to Mark Twain – because it appears in his posthumously-published Autobiography (1924) – this should more properly be ascribed to Disraeli, as indeed Twain took trouble to do: his exact words being, ‘The remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”.’

And there are no greater ‘damned lies’ than readership or circulation figures for magazines and other publications. To give you an idea, often when a print magazine quotes ‘readership’, they triple or even quadruple their actual sales figures. Why? Because they assume each copy is read by three or four people!

In the same way – or even, come to think of, much worse ways – web sites quote all sorts of figures for their readership.

AutoSpeed’s figures are logged by Google. I can look at our daily figures, weekly figures, annual figures – or even figures for the content, section by section. Further, through internal Web Publications data, I can view readership numbers, article by article. Finally, I can also see the number of reader ratings for each article, and what those ratings are.

Wilful ignorance

Posted on February 23rd, 2009 in AutoSpeed,Driving Emotion,Opinion by Julian Edgar

As I have said in the past, AutoSpeed’s internal data generates a daily referrers’ list, where I can see discussion groups and other web pages from which readers are coming.

I read the referrers’ list (and then follow many links) at least a couple of times a day. It tells me, indirectly, which are our most popular articles for that day, and even more importantly, it also shows me how well each article is understood.

Huh – ‘how well it is understood’?

Well, the sad truth is that many AutoSpeed articles are completely misunderstood by readers. But again, that’s useful to me – if my writing hasn’t been clear enough, or the photos of sufficient quality, then I get to see the outcome expressed loud and clear.

But there’s nothing I can do about wilful ignorance.

Sorry, I have to go fix my Hippo

Posted on February 10th, 2009 in AutoSpeed,classics,Opinion by Julian Edgar

Regular readers will know that I am a voracious consumer of second hand books.

eBay, the Lifeline BookFest (no less than a million second-hand books for sale, and all proceeds benefitting charity!), bookshops (both new and used), garage sales – the sources are endless.

The other day one of the books that lobbed into my post office box was an orphan – a single volume of one of the Newnes Motor Repair sets of the 1950s – and perhaps the early 1960s. The book – Volume 3 of probably a 6 volume set – covers commercial vehicles, tractors and general car repairs (but the latter only the subject titles from ‘B’ to ‘E’).

I was browsing it, looking at the different designs of the (mostly) British vehicles when something suddenly hit me.

The names!

Reader Stories…

Posted on January 27th, 2009 in AutoSpeed,Driving Emotion,Opinion by Julian Edgar

I hate to sound negative but long experience has taught me that if a reader emails that they have a great story for us, the very high likelihood is that it will never happen.

About once every two weeks I get an email.

Hi, I’ve invented a new type of turbo. I am sure you’d like to cover it.


I’ve developed a breakthrough fuel – you make it yourself. You should do a story on it.

Or, even,

You haven’t done a new car test on my car – it’s a XYZ. Would you like to drive it?

On the off-chance that something will actually eventuate, I always email back a semi-polite reply.

But then the turbo man doesn’t want to send me any real-world test results, or the person who makes their own fuel suddenly goes very quiet, or the person with the new car lives in remote, outback Western Australia.

AutoSpeed in 2009

Posted on January 9th, 2009 in AutoSpeed,Opinion,pedal power,Reviews by Julian Edgar

It’s a new year – so what do we have coming up in AutoSpeed?

In short, it looks to be a great year.

First-up, we’ll be continuing our ‘How to Electronically Modify Your Car’ series. At this stage the series has about 15 parts – it may grow a little. By reading those stories, you can be taken from knowing literally nothing about electronically modifying a car to the stage where you can confidently make changes to analog and digital signals, and understand how car systems can be altered.

In the second half of the year we expect to cover an innovative development in DIY electronics that will put the power of making major, custom electronic modification of cars into the hands of everyone. It’s a development that has been more than 12 months of work in the making, and one that I think is enormously exciting. More on this as we get closer to launch.

Making very bad product planning decisions

Posted on December 16th, 2008 in AutoSpeed,Driving Emotion,Ford,Opinion by Julian Edgar

This is the last blog post for this year, and this week’s edition of AutoSpeed is the last until January 6.

It’s been an interesting year, not least because in response to reader requests, we’ve been again testing more new cars.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think that when testing cars, nearly all journalists are way too soft in their criticisms. I mean, to make just a simple point – by definition, half of all new cars should be rated below average and half should be above average.

But read most car tests and you’ll find that nearly all cars are said to be way above average!

I also think that journalists – and especially enthusiasts’ magazines and TV shows – need to in part be blamed for the absurd direction that some manufacturers have taken with their cars.

The car that this year amazed me the most was the Ford FG Falcon.

The model that I would think sells the best – the XR6 – was incredibly off the pace in the things that matter to most purchasers. All I can say is: what on earth was Ford thinking when they set the priorities?

I wrote about this when the car was first released – see The New Falcon – Mostly Irrelevant and the ironic The Ideal Car for the Times – but the car’s reality was even worse than I’d guessed.

What an absolutely crap car

Posted on November 13th, 2008 in AutoSpeed,Opinion,Peugeot,Reviews by Julian Edgar

Look, I’ve tried to like it. I’ve admired its quite brilliant fuel economy, and its generally excellent ride/handling compromise. I mean, I was even very positive in the new car test I did on the car when it was first released back in 2003.


And when this family bought one with our own money, it was with the (stated) intention of making it an AutoSpeed project car, in much the same way that we did with the Peugeot 405 SRDT.



But I need to be honest. I just simply hate the Peugeot 307 HDi – I think it’s a car that in many ways is just rubbish.


Now normally to support such a statement you’d have an extensive list of shortcomings in its driving performance. But in fact, the Peugeot largely drives very well.


One clear negative is its dreadful low rpm management mapping and/or turbo sizing: this is one of the deadest off-boost turbo electronic direct injected diesels you can drive, especially in hot weather.


(I just checked the date of my original new car test – published November so probably tested about September. Just on the edges of the Australian summer – but not into it.)


But otherwise, the steering is largely OK (well, it kicks back when driving really hard); the ride is good; the handling is adequate and the brakes fine.

What we’ve got coming up!

Posted on October 21st, 2008 in AutoSpeed,Opinion by Julian Edgar

I’d like to tell you about some of the AutoSpeed content we have coming up over the next three or so months. (But as always, plans may change – the following is not set in concrete!)

Firstly, we have plenty of new car tests – amongst others, the Honda Jazz, Holden Epica diesel, Holden Captiva diesel, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and no less than three hybrid Lexus cars.

In special features we look at some very interesting cars, including the forgotten 1960s Mitsubishi Colt Fastback; the cars that GM regards as their best of the last 100 years; and the amazing Messerschmitt KR200.

How can some get it so wrong?

Posted on October 6th, 2008 in AutoSpeed,Driving Emotion,Opinion,Toyota by Julian Edgar

Whenever I have nearly finished writing a new car test, I have a quick look at what other testers have had to say about the car.


Sometimes I find points that I have overlooked – and I am not too proud to re-examine the car and see if I agree with that other perspective. Other times, I find comments that I completely disagree with – and I never change the test to match what a majority might be saying.


I always wait until my test is near-complete before looking at other tests; it’s the same logic that means I usually drive a car and decide what I think it is worth before looking up its exact price.


So when I’d just about finished writing the test on the Toyota Aurion AT-X, I did a quick web browse.