President's Report - March 2000

Greetings All,

The picnic at Clonakilla a winery last month was a great success, with a fine lunch being enjoyed by club members on the verandah of the tasting shed. At $36 per bottle the 1998 Clonakilla Reserve Shiraz is not cheap, but shared among the assembled multitude it was the perfect picnic accompaniment. Peter Rees and partner, Sue, took the opportunity to display a new 306, recently purchased from Melrose Peugeot. Good to see some of the newer models infiltrating the club ranks!

Speaking of Melrose Peugeot, I recently dropped in to introduce myself as club president. While there I was shown around by friendly salesperson, Jamie Wells. Plenty of new and used Pugs on hand, including the gorgeous 406 coupe and 306 cabriolet. Not a 206 GTi in sight, of course, with waiting lists extending to several months. It's worth reminding club members that Melrose carries a limited stock of Peugeot merchandise, but can also order in a much greater range of items overnight from Sydney. So if you fancy a Prost F1 baseball cap (I'll be waiting until Prost gets a podium finish - which could be a while, judging by results in Melbourne), or a Pug umbrella, polo shirt or whatever, then Melrose is the place. Jamie also said he would be happy to keep a copy of the club magazine on his desk at Melrose, so I've arranged for him to receive a complimentary copy each month.

Just before Christmas, in preparation for holiday touring, I needed to replace the rear tyres on my 505. With two near new Michelin Club tyres already on the front I decided to go for two more on the back. A couple of phone calls quickly established a good deal to be had at Boral Tyres in Fyshwick, and they would order them in overnight - not the Club, but its replacement the Vivace.

When I presented myself at Boral the next afternoon, their computer said they had my tyres, but they were nowhere to be found in the warehouse. Hmm, virtual tyres! The manager did a wider search of his computer database and discovered four Vivaces in Orange, which, he said, could be in Canberra the next day. Alas a phone call to Orange revealed they were already sold. Another database search, only to discover the next nearest Vivaces were in Queensland! By this stage I was not pleased, but the manager didn't even blink. He picked up the phone and rang Woden Tyre & Exhaust in Phillip, and yep, if I went straight out they'd fit two Vivaces for me immediately. An hour later it was done.

Boral might have lost a sale, but they sure won my praise for acting to keep the customer happy. Woden Tyre & Exhaust also did a great job in speedily fitting the tyres on a busy pre-Christmas afternoon. In my opinion both firms offer pretty competitive prices - Woden Tyre & Exhaust are a key Michelin dealer, which appears to mean they are supplied at lower prices, but Boral offers a 5% discount to club members, so it more or less evens out in the end. As Bill McNamee will always tell you, "it pays to shop around".

Next club meeting is at the Italo-Australian Club on Tuesday 28 March at 8 pm. See you all there.

Keep on Pugging,

Brad Pillans

Picture of Brad

Lionising

With a nice picture of a 206 on the front cover of the latest issue of the NRMA Open Road Magazine with the caption underneath saying:

Hatch Bucks - The best deals under $25,000

you could be forgiven for looking inside with an air of expectation. Alas, the 206 was summed up as beautiful to look at, fine handling, but of patchy quality, with a poor driving position and lack of rear space. Recommended ahead of the 206 in the $15,000 to $20,000 category were VW Polo, Honda Civic and Nissan Pulsar, with the overall winner being the Holden Astra. Makes you wonder why they bothered with the cover picture doesn't it? But that's the froth and bubble Open Road these days. On the question of the "best deals under $25,000", do Peugeotphiles really agree with this summation? Let's hear from club members on the 206.

Not a promising start to the F1 season for Prost Peugeot in Melbourne. Jean Alesi completed only 27 out of 59 laps, while Nick Heidfeld, who at least crossed the finish line, was a distant 9th, 2 laps behind the winning Ferrari of Michael Schumacher. So, the Lionising Trivia question of the month is:

When did Peugeot last win a Grand Prix race? Answer in next months column.

PEUGEOT Oz chief Shane Priest has stepped down to return to Melbourne for family reasons, leaving car importer Inchcape with the task of finding a replacement for its Peugeot arm. He left last month.

Gronholm Holds Off Makinen's Late Charge

MARCUS Gronholm in a Peugeot 206 WRC won the Swedish Rally on February 14, having led the three-day, 399 km event from the second stage. It was Peugeot's first win in the World Rally Championship. The Finn maintains the 100% winning record for Scandinavian drivers on this traditional "snow" rally, although the only snow to appear fell on the final leg.

During the third and final leg defending world champion Tommi Makinen in the Mitsubishi Ralliart Team-entered Lancer mounted a major challenge to Gronholm in an attempt to take a third consecutive win here, but Gronholm ran out the victor by just under seven seconds.

There was just a touch of apprehension in the air during the first special stage of the third leg. Grönholm clipped a rock, which might not have caused any serious damage but it did cost him 10 seconds. On the following stage Marcus ceded a couple of seconds to Mäkinen. But Marcus remained a model of controlled confidence and retained the lead he had held from the second stage of the opening day to secure victory on the 49th Swedish Rally.

Makinen said:

It was some mistakes which we made yesterday which made the difference. I have a lot of experience here but still made mistakes, so second is good. I'm happy for Marcus; he was so fast on the first two days there was not much we could do today.

The final leg, which included five stages totalling some 100 km, produced an unusual - for this year - surface, snow. Although not heavy it offered the potential for drivers running later on the road to benefit on surfaces cleaned by the early cars. This did not hamper Gronholm who maintained his consistency to give Peugeot its first victory on this rally. It is also the Finn's first victory on a World Championship rally.

Francois Delecour experienced transmission problems in his version of the Peugeot 206, and was also loud in his criticism of the restricted reconnaissance rules as favouring the recently experienced drivers.

Delecour was delayed by the same rock Marcus hit and also had a few differential problems that caused his car to understeer significantly. François said:

Despite our difficulties, the 206 WRC is a great car. When the differential is working properly, it's an absolute joy to drive.

Peugeot Sport director Corrado Provera said:

This victory confirms the outstanding potential of the 206 WRC. We dedicate this success to Jean-Pierre Nicolas and all our colleagues at Peugeot. The World Rally Championship is the toughest arena in the automotive field and this success proves Peugeot's ability to respond to the ultimate high-technology challenge. The 206 WRC has mobilised all of Peugeot's energy around a single project and this success will enhance the feeling of cohesion and ambition amongst everyone who contributes to the design, manufacture and retail of Peugeot cars.

In the Drivers Championship race Makinen leads on 19 points from Gronholm, 10. In the Manufacturers Championship, Mitsubishi leads with 18 points, from Peugeot - 11, Ford 10 and Subaru - 9.

Rally Heritage

More than a decade ago Peugeot's legendary 205 Turbo 16 took the World Rally Championship by storm, capturing Constructor and Driver titles in 1985 and 1986. And in four years of long-distance "Rally Raid" competition Peugeot won all of the 11 events it entered, including four Paris-Dakars.

In the late 1980s Peugeot was part of a European invasion of the previously all-American Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado. The 1988 combination of rally ace Ari Vatanen and the four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer, turbo-charged Peugeot 405 Turbo 16 Coupe rewrote the record book for the snaking, 4,300 metre "Race to the Clouds" - a feat Peugeot repeated the following year.

The 206 WRC has been developed from existing components of the road-going 206 such as the body structure and materials, engine block and cylinder head, whilst retaining its wheelbase dimensions. The overall length is increased from 3.83 m to 4.0 m - 70 percent of this increase due to a new front moulding. The overall width is increased by 12 cm to 1.77 m and the wheel housings accommodate 18 inch wheels (fitted with tyres whose diameter must not exceed 650 mm). The engine is a 2.0-litre, turbo-intercooled four cylinder featuring double overhead camshafts, 16-valves and developing 224 kW. The diameter of the air intake is fixed by WRC rules to 34 mm. The vehicle has four-wheel drive, a six-speed sequential (X-Trac) gearbox and three controlled differentials.

Peugeot 607 Handling Problems Revealed

The French car weekly Auto-Plus recently slammed the handling of the soon-to-be released (in Europe) Peugeot 607 following recent trials outside of Paris. The 607 is to be launched in May as the replacement for the recently discontinued luxury 605, a car that was also beset by initial design faults but became an automotive press favourite in France. Auto-Plus trialed the new sedan on the Montlhéry road circuit near Paris and discovered major handling problems with the vehicle's rear end. Deceleration in curves or minor bumps caused the rear wheels to lose adhesion. Peugeot immediately went into damage control, claiming that the test vehicles were pre-production models and that the handling problems would be rectified before the car's release.

A spokesman for Peugeot admitted that "we are still working on the car with particular attention to matching the tyres to the chassis and finding a balance between ride quality and road holding". Jean-Martin Folz, chairman of Peugeot, in an open letter published in the French Press, stated that:

Pre-release testing of the 607 is designed to perfect the model, and with the resulting refinements, its handling will be the best in its class.

The release date remains 15th May, and will only be changed if the handling problems cannot be rectified.

Peugeot's Geneva Concepts

PEUGEOT has unveiled two striking, yet dramatically different concept cars, the Feline roadster and the Paladine limousine, at this month's Geneva Motor Show. Peugeot used the show to showcase two very different, one-off, concept vehicles, based on the new 607 luxury sedan, on sale in Europe in May this year.

The Feline, created by The Peugeot Style Centre, to be "a car which is always a pleasure", features long, shark like flanks and a heat insulated, bubble roof design which allows the turret and rear windscreen to retract into the body at the flick of a switch.

On entry to the deliberately rear positioned cabin, small door sections slide longitudinally into the rear wings. A roll hoop sits under the curved glasshouse to enhance rigidity and passive safety. Strictly a two-seater, the Feline is laid out with a longitudinal power pack. Its 60°, 3 litre, 24 valve, quad cam, V6 engine is mated to a five speed manual gearbox, mounted forward of the engine for a close to perfect front to rear weight distribution.

And at just over four metres long, the car's design is characterised by a long wheelbase and extremely short overhangs, reinforcing its dynamic shape Weighing less than 900 kg, thanks largely to the use of carbon fibre in its single piece body and major chassis sections, the Feline boasts an F1 inspired, double wishbone front suspension, featuring rocking levers at the front and a flexible cross member at the rear. As well, the compact front spring/damper units are mounted longitudinally and flat, in combination with the steering rack, ahead of the upper wishbones.

The unique 18 inch central bolt alloy wheels are fitted with Michelin PAX run flat tyres. And stopping power is awesome with 355 mm carbon discs fitted with four piston Brembo callipers fitted all round. Among the Feline's technical features is an innovative headlight design, patented by the PSA Group. The dipping function is actuated by nine, moving, fibre optic prisms which vary according to steering inputs and road speed. The indicator lights each consist of three optical bars, lit at the ends, and additional lamps emit "black" light to better illuminate road markings.

The Paladine luxury limousine is developed from the 607 sedan and equipped with every possible refinement. A discreet lengthening of the central section stretches the 607 Paladine to over five metres. The long glass and steel roof retains the production 607's clean lines. And at the touch of a button, a central, half moon, tinted glass section quietly slides towards the front, while the rear roof and D pillar sections fold and vanish into the boot, turning this limousine into a convertible.

The 3 litre, V6 powered Paladine sits on 18 inch seven spoke alloy wheels, also shod with Michelin PAX "anti-puncture" tyres. The interior environment has two "service" seats in the front, and two "luxury" places in the rear, with an occasional seat face to face with the right hand passenger. By using a hand held console, the two rear occupants have total control over the temperature of their environment, assisted by the laminated and sound and heat proof windows. Right and left hand sides of the cabin are individually adjustable, as are the communication and sound systems.

The right hand passenger has access to high tech support for leisure or business including a 17 inch colour display screen with a retractable keyboard, which is connected to a micro computer and DVD player. The other passenger can leisurely browse through the library section built into the left hand side of the car, or listen to music over the Paladine's high quality, multi-speaker audio system. A refrigerated bar compartment between the backs of the seats completes the facilities.