Teutonic top trumps

THESE THREE GERMAN ’BAHN-STORMERS ARE COMING TO OZ THIS YEAR BUT WHICH OF THIS ALL-WHEEL-DRIVE TURBO TRIO GETS YOUR V8 VOTE?

ANDY ENRIGHT

ENGINE

German power cake recipe: Take two turbos and eight cylinders, mix into a vee at skunkworks, slap into a sedan or wagon body. Enjoy!

0-100km/h

BMW has a new habit of underquoting acceleration figures, so the difference here could be even larger. Munich easily wins the war of power-to-weight,too

OUTPUTS

BMW’s turbos spool quickest, with smaller peak torque figure arriving lowest in RPM range and spread across most revs. AMG has widest peak kW band

TOP SPEED

While the ‘slowest’ of the trio, AMG E63 S is the only one capable of reaching 300km/h without aid of an option pack

WEIGHT

Wagon-bodied RS6 is heaviest of the bunch. Complex all-wheel-drive systems bring bulk kegs, but lightweight Competition pack helps BMW shed heft

ECONOMY

All three like a drink. Audi only car with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to help reduce fuel consumption but can’t escape its extra weight

Who is H2X?

AUSSIE VEHICLE START-UP BETS HOUSE ON HYDROGEN

H 2X AUSTRALIA is a small tech start-up currently employing 70 staff and based in Port Kembla, NSW.  The company’s aim is to bring the vehicle you see here, the Snowy SUV, to market in 2022. That’s right, an Aussie-designed vehicle within a couple of years, assembled locally from an imported chassis.

There are some significant hurdles to overcome, not least of which is that the Snowy utilises a hydrogen fuel cell. While that’s H2X’s core piece of intellectual property, it also relies on a fuelling network that currently consists of one station in Canberra.

CEO Brendan Norman, who has held executive positions with VW and Audi and has worked on hydrogen start-ups Grove and Riverside in the last decade, is aware of this chickenand-egg scenario. “We’re already discussing how we lay that out, but we need vehicles to be there to be able to use the hydrogen,” Norman said. He envisages a rollout of five to 15 stations by 2021 to cater for commercial customers first with a subsequent expansion into cities for private vehicle usage.

H2X claims to already have “tens of millions” of dollars of investment

Also on staff is former head of design at Fiat and Nissan Europe, Chris Reitz, and Alan Marder, a former tech solutions director at Toyota.

Indeed, H2X is looking at a range of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) applications including people movers, tractors and trains. It’s long been believed that hydrogen is better suited to these heavyweights, with battery-driven vehicles targeting private users. H2X claims that funding is already in place to expand the company and build the Snowy and another vehicle, equipped with a 300- 550kW output from its ElringKlinger fuel cell and ultra-capacitor platform resulting in a claimed range in the region of 650km. It also features a regenerative suspension that converts chassis kinetics into electrical energy. In developing a nascent hydrogen infrastructure for commercial vehicles first – much like the rollout of LPG in Australia – H2X can then piggyback consumer technology off the back of it. It’s unclear if the tech can ever be made cost-effective, but H2X has an imported prototype that it is now localising, whereupon it will be showcased as a proof of concept.

ANDY ENRIGHT

AT LAST!

Hot Mazda 3 teased

TURBO TEARAWAY INCOMING

AT THE TIME of going to press, details were sketchy but Mazda has teased the launch of a turbocharged version of its popular 3 hatch. Model designations for a six-speed auto Mazda 3 turbo hatch were leaked from a US dealer’s intranet last month, and Mazda has now confirmed the rumours by releasing a short teaser video with the strapline ‘Prepare for Launch’. Mazda’s last performance version of the 3 was the 190kW MPS, which shuffled into retirement in 2013. Don’t expect a like-for-like replacement but it’s clear that Mazda needs something punchier than the erstwhile 139kW G25 flagship if the 3’s to thrive at its current near-premium positioning.