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16/05/2011
More attention to consumption

New cars, new tyres


Automotive technological development is moving towards stabilizing rim sizes

by Duilio Damiani

A limit seems to have been reached. After the rush in recent years for super-low profiles, which were increasingly popular even for city cars, the tendency dictated by technological progress seems to be oriented towards stabilizing sizes, with now consolidated rim sizes that are generally 15" for small class B saloons and 16" for the class immediately above, with oversizes offered only on request or for more expensive vehicles. A necessity imposed by the economy but also by structural demands from car manufacturers, which have never been so united in the general run up to industrial rationalization. Exceptions apart, obviously. And instead of the standard or compact spare wheel (almost always an optional) in the boot, we now find mastic and compressors.

 

 

ASTON MARTIN RAPIDE
We've opened this overview, partly because of alphabetical order and partly because it's so aristocratic, with a vehicle that is decidedly unique and very few examples will stop at traditional tyre specialists. It is the epitome of the exclusive tendency of big names in élite cars to offer highly prestigious GT saloons alongside the more coveted high-performance coupés. Aimed at a particularly refined clientele, the Rapide is unrivalled for nobility and performance. Poles apart from massed produced vehicles, this is the first four-door Aston Martin of the modern era, an almost 5-metre-long pureblood with a powerful 6 litre V12 engine delivering almost 500 HP, that will comfortably carry four people at its top speed of 300 km/h. After this, the Porsche Panamera and the Maserati Quattroporte, who knows when we'll see the first Ferrari with handles at the back.

 

Tyres:
Front 245/40 R19
Rear 295/35 R19

 

Spare: repair kit

 


AUDI A6
The anti Mercedes par excellence, even when taking its Teutonic provenance into consideration. This new version, which recently made its debut on global markets, is the fourth generation of the spacious saloon with a more than consolidated strong tradition. The "almost" admiral of the four rings is in effect a slighter smaller A8. It is a span shorter than the model at the top of the range, but with a solid content impregnated with automatic devices and all the electronics that modern technology has to offer. The interior and finish of this three-box are those of a real premium car for travelling in total comfort, and it won't be long before it is joined by the Avant estate and the inevitable crossover Allroad with four wheel drive. Currently, there is a wide choice of five different engines, from the more rational diesel to the brilliant 300 HP turbo. Consequently, tyres are appropriate, measured and in no inconveniently excessive sizes.

 

Tyres:
225/60 R16
225/55 R17

 

Spare: repare kit

 


BMW SERIE 1 COUPE'
The first restyling of the sport version of the smaller BMW series, the entry range of the car with the two-colour propeller logo, confirms the Bavarian's elegance and dynamism. A series 1 in all aspects, but with a 3-box that has lost its truncated rear, gained in appeal and sportiness and is available also in an attractive cabriolet version. They're a good size for coping with traffic while offering the comfort of a real road car with various and interesting engines, the same as those in its 2-box sister. From the more moderate 143 HP 2 litre petrol or diesel to the feisty, 306 HP 6 cylinder turbo. We await the imminent arrival of the fiery M1 version with 340 HP dual turbocompressor, exciting speed performance (self-limiting at 250 km/h) and from standing to 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds. In line with expectations, especially when it comes to style, tyre sizes here go up to 19 inches, as latest trends demand.

 

Tyres:
195/55 R16
205/55 R16
205/50 R17

M1 only
Front 245/35 R19
Rear 265/35 R19

 

Spare: repair kit

 


CITROEN DS4
The stylistic exercise inaugurated by the French company with the DS3 continues with the DS4, the two-box saloon based on the first restyling of the C4, claimed to be "the most beautiful car of 2010" at the International Automobile Festival. With style and exclusiveness almost a range in itself, it has a choice of diesel and petrol engines from 92 to 156 HP. Aimed at more design- and personalization-conscious customers, its "creative tecnologique" is based on a genuine construction philosophy. As can be seen from its quasi-coupé crossover silhouette, svelte body raised by 4 cm, a wealth of refined solutions, like the rear doors with hidden handles, a slanting rear window, a highly characterizing front and, obviously, extremely refined wheels, which even come in 19 inch versions (but for the moment only available up to 18").

 

Tyres:
205/55 R16
225/45 R17
225/40 R18

 

Spare: repair kit

 


MERCEDES C CLASS
The star of Stuttgart is always synonymous with soundness, especially in the intermediate range that includes the most popular saloon that embodies the philosophical spirit of Mercedes: comfortable, spacious, technologically-advanced and qualitatively appreciable. Equipped to the same technological levels as the higher-end classes, the design of the new C Class is dynamic and sporty for both the saloon and the station wagon, and even more so for the coupé from which it derives, a personal line with wide wheel arches designed to take 16 and 17 inch rims. The exclusive equipment includes new fewer than 10 new driving assists. Standing out among them is Attention Assist, which detects the driver's tiredness level and signals involuntary steering errors. The efficiency of the multiple engines, offered also with 7G-Tronic Plus 7-gear automatic transmission, delivers interesting performance with lower consumption. Tyres are limited, 16 and 17 inches.

 

Tyres:
195/60 R16
205/55 R16
225/45 R17


Spare: repair kit

 


OPEL CORSA
The hatchback of the re-launch, it excels in roominess and low running costs, which are the characteristics dictated by a public that is increasingly aware about space optimization, even in saloons in the mid-small range. The attractive appeal is not underestimated, thanks to style inherited from the Astra experience, and made more tempting by "Linea", a personalization package that includes 17" wheels on request. Characterizing headlamp configurations, a front face in line with the latest family feeling of the rest of the Opel range, and low running costs thanks to various engines from 65 to 130 HP and the especially interesting ecoFLEX version with Start&Stop that gives over 28.5 km on a litre of diesel. And just to stay on the path of modernity introduced by the previous model, stepping out of the mould is the wicked 200 HP OPC version with super-low 18 inch tyres.

 

Tyres:
185/70 R14
195/55 R16
215/45 R17

OPC only
225/35 R18

 

Spare: repair kit

 


PEUGEOT 508

The replacement of the successful 407 has arrived and while we wait for the renewal of the now elderly 607, the temporary top of the saloon range will be the new 508, which certainly lacks nothing in style and technology. Both the saloon and SW versions are great touring cars and come with a choice of two petrol, one supercharged and four turbodiesel engines, at the top of which is the 240 HP 2.2 HDi offered as standard with 6-gear automatic transmission. Not just power. In the top version, strange to say, front chassis geometry as been changed with refined quadrilateral suspension instead of the MacPherson used in all the others, an industrially demanding choice that represents the intention of offering maximum handling for the more demanding driver, but without exceeding the appropriate rigidity. Three classic tyre sizes for the five versions available.

 

Tyres:
215/60 R16
215/55 R17
235/45 R18


Spare: repair kit

 


RENAULT LATITUDE
Despite its generous external length of 4.90 metres, this is not the successor of the fairly unfortunate Vel Satis. Having said that, we can immediately classify the Lattitude as a comfortable mid-size saloon with room for five, luggage included, the four-door variant of the Megane. It has great commercial ambitions, in the traditional as well as emerging markets, considering that it shares the platform with Korea's analogous (and almost identical) Samsung SM5. Spacious interior, comfort and appealing fittings are the cards being played by the new Renault. And for maximum relaxation it includes a driver's seat with four different types of massage, air conditioner with ionizer and essence diffuser, parking sensor with camera, and keyless start. Two levels of equipment and three engines, from the 140 HP 2.0 petrol to the vivacious over 240 HP 3.0 V6 turbodiesel, and appropriate tyres up to 18 inches.

 

Tyres:
205/55 R16
225/50 R17
225/45 R18

 

Spare: repair kit

 


TATA NANO
To tell the truth, we still don't know when the ultra-low cost Indian city car will be seen in western markets, having been held up by the Old Continent's strict antipollution and safety regulations. But it's worth mentioning because on the motoring scene it is a rare example exhibiting what we now know as compact wheels - only 12 inches - that until about thirty years ago were common on almost all small cars circulating at the time, from the Mini Morris to the Fiat 500. A return to small diameter wheels, at least on city cars, would in fact lead to savings in industrial costs, containment of mass and an increase in useable space inside and in the boot, without overly penalizing performance limited by the city use of similar vehicles. Its two-cylinder 620 cc and 35 HP certainly smack of lawnmowers, but for city use (and a giveaway price of about 5000 euros) it's more than enough. Will the Nano be the first to spark off the hoped for reversal in trend?

 

Tyres:
Front 135/70 R12
Rear 155/65 R12

 

Spare: n.a.

 


TOYOTA VERSO S
At the start it was an equipment variant, then it was a model in itself. Now the Verso range has been expanded with the S, a modern, very small MPV in the B segment based on the Yarise. A winner is without doubt the spacious interior, which is more than that offered by its main competitors in the category. Five comfortable seats, a 430-litre boot expandable to 1385 litres in a length of less than 4 metres. With few frills, this is definitely a rational choice: three modern, compact and frugal engines between 90 and 110 HP, alluring km/g and extremely low emissions, as befits the more modern Euro5. Equipment meets all the main requirements, without neglecting conditioning and navigator, and 16" alloy rims in the richer Style Pack version.

 

Tyres:
185/65 R15
185/60 R16

 

Spare: repair kit

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