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back to article Axon takes 100mpg wonder car for a spin

It's just a car. it's called Axon, and it's just a car. It has a petrol engine, four wheels. So why is it supposed to be the greenest breakthrough in the automotive sector? "Because it can do 100 miles to the gallon with less than half the CO2 emissions of an average car," said Steven Cousins, the founder of Axon. Axon …

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Happy

Sounds familiar...

A 500cc twin engined, light, aerodynamic vehicle that can theoretically reach 100mpg? Sounds familiar... now what do you call it... umm.... oh yes! A motorcycle.

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100mpg?

I initially read that as 100mph. Imagine my disappointment!

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So what?

I have a production VW Polo Bluemotion II that is rated at 88 mpg on the standard system. As a result I pay no tax (VED Band A). I actually get better than 70 mpg on a long run, and instantaneous consumption is often around 150 mpg. So I don't see 100mpg as all that amazing; if I really drove very carefully I could probably do that on the Polo. If it was 150 mpg or 200 mpg I'd think it was worth making a fuss about!

Why are people so limited in their imagination? 100mpg is clearly within the realm achievable with very standard technology. If you're going for all this whizzy stuff, you ought to be aiming a LOT higher.

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Photos?

Anyone?

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Linux

Could be nice, but...

if this new design is so light weight what will it be like if you do a lot of motorway miles. I drive about 50-60 miles each day to and from work. I would not want to be on the motorway in a car that will feel everybit of wind. That would end up causing issues especially in the winter when it is really windy on parts of the M4.

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Paris Hilton

Pics?

Ultimately I don't care if a car is green or not, and i dare say other are like me. The things that are important are price/usage costs, 0-60, top speed. MPG under sane usage conditions and whether or not you look like a prick driving it about.

Paris as we all look like a prick in her.

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Boffin

Note to Americans

That'll be 80mpg to you guys.

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Anonymous Coward

how

how would it hold up if it were to be hit by a ka doing 30mph?

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Re: Picuters

http://www.axonautomotive.com/

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Playing with carbon fiber bodies?

I'm not sure how novel the technology is.

I've seen some shows on the science channel which showed some innovative ways of pressing carbon fiber sheets in to shaped body parts.

I've always wondered how they joined these parts together.

(Imagine trying to duplicate the spot/seam welding of the metal parts.)

I do think that its an interesting technology, I wonder how it will perform in crash tests and how they plan on recycling the carbon fiber/resin panels.

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ian
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Is this my long-anticipated flying car?

Made of jet fighter wings, aerodynamic, light! Couldn't ask for more. Move aside Toyota, Britain is striding ahead.

I am left wondering about one detail: Guy, what does St. John have to do with innovation? Was he an innovator? Was the event held on St. John's Day?

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Go

Pick up the engine

So you can lift the engine out of this car and drop in a new one with your hands? Screw the milage. THAT is the revolutionary design. You could drop in an electric set for your daily commute or put in the gasoline motor for a long weekend trip. If another new kind of engine is invented, you're ready for that too. Axon can make good money for themselves by selling upgrade kits.

I want my modular car!

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pic

http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2008/07/28/094685.1-lg.jpg < is big

Looks like a Citron mounting an Astra, zoom in and you can see the wonderful fit, a hallmark of both British automobile manufacturing of old and Halford specials spinning doughnuts in MacDonald's car parks the length and breath of Essex.

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Easy

Im sure that this can be done now (~100 mpg), by every car company. The problem is safety standards.

The gov's need to come out with a low safety standard vehicle. Something between a car and a motor cycle.

If someone told me that their son got into a motor cycle accident while going 62.14 Mph, I would wonder "are they dead?". If someone told me that their son got into a car accident while going 62.14 Mph, I would wonder "are they hurt?".

If people were willing to accept any car accident above 20 Mph as "are they dead?", we could have all the 100 Mpg cars we wanted (assuming people would want them).

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Anonymous Coward

A nice thought, but...

... they've made the same mistake as almost every company involved in the small/eco/electro car business, which is to ignore consumer preferences.

The majority of buyers don't want to shift to something small, slow, compromised and gawky-looking in order to save on fuel costs and/or save the planet. If they did, a typical car park would be full of base-specification Kas and Aygos rather than lifestyle estates and offroad vehicles with premium German badgework, and in that case then offering further economy improvements would be an instant route to sales success and we'd see mainstream manufacturers launching ever-shrinking two-seaters, roofed quads and lightweight devices all over the shop to capture that demand.

In the real world, most people are "happy with" something on the order of 35mpg, and indeed have used improvements in efficiency from automotive manufacturers not to save money, but instead to upsize and upclass the vehicle they drive while maintaining equivalent running costs. Despite years of stern environmental messages, it took a large increase in fuel costs before consumer preferences showed a significant shift towards smaller and more economical vehicles.

If you're holding out on seeing your peers driving around in a "car of the future", it's not going to happen until someone launches something in the Focus and/or Mondeo classes that looks good, drives well, goes an appreciable margin faster than what speed limits and traffic conditions would suggest is prudent, and doesn't cost anything other than negligibly more over a typical 3-4 year ownership period. I'm certainly interested in the Chevy Volt, because while it's not perfect on all of those counts, it's a hell of a lot closer than this sort of vehicle, which is destined to be a niche product at best.

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Anonymous Coward

Carbon fibre

Not so sure that a carbon structure could be considered green, given the processes involved in the manufacture of the fibre and the structures.

And the recycling process consists of chopping the carbon scrap up and (basically) burning it, leaving a mix of short fibre strands that can be cleaned & reused. Not sure that this is particularly green either, though it does at least provide a route to (limited) reuse and might be better/more cost effective than landfill.

In any case you can get a conventional vehicle to get close enough to this performance without doing anything particularly clever, which is inevitably a cheaper and more friendly prospect than some radical redesign with composites.

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@Ian Ferguson

Motorcycles are not aerodynamic - they are a disaster area in that respect. The reason they can go fast is a small frontal area, very high power to weight ratio, but that advantage increasingly gets lost at higher speeds due to all the turbulence from those the anything-but-smooth shape of the damned thing. Maybe if you could produce a fully-enclosed motorcycle, but then we are talking something rather close to a two wheeled car.

Add to that motorcycles have very limited load carrying capability, aren't good at keeping the weather off you, provide virtually no crash protection, are inherently more difficult to see, cope with bad road conditions appalingly and have a scandaloulsy bad safety record, then they are no answer to moving lots of people around at any speed at all.

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re: Photos?

It's really hard to find photos.

/sarcasm

try here - www.axonautomotive.com/cars.html

Anyone else get a flashback to the mid 70's bubblecars?

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bbc video

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7620875.stm item 4

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Re: Easy

The safety issue is not in the weight of the vehicle, it is in the weight of the other vehicles. Motorcyles are dangerous because they have no contained passenger safety area, that is your leathers, not because they are light weight. Light weight cars offer far more potential for impact safety than the lardy barges that mundano and vectra man yawn about in (we won't even mention the 'I have a tiny penis' barges that are sold in America). The weight actually makes it more difficult to ensure that energy is dissipated in a controlled fashion without compromising the passengers. The problem is the heavy vehicles on the road which offers us a very simple solution, ban everything over 1500kg from all cities during daylight hours. This will do wonders for fuel economy (the Polo is good primarily because it has been on a diet), pedestrian and cyclist safety, emissions, in fact almost all vehicle related problems. Even better it will permanently rid us of the sort of inbreed who thinks they need a 4x4 to do the supermarket and school run.

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Safety Issues

I've always had a few qualms about super-lightweight vehicles. It goes to simple collision physics. When a massive object collides with a not-massive object, the results can get pretty messy--the faster the collision, the messier. So I have to ask how an Axon will fare in crash testing for starters, and then proceed to the worst-case scenario--getting broadsided by a fully-loaded lorry/truck.

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re: Ian Ferguson

one major difference between a motorcycle and the Axom... you get wet one a motorcycle in the rain. oh yeah... and that bit about 4 wheels... and none of them for training.

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Gates Halo

I'd drive it

Make it available across the pond in Canukistan and I'd seriously consider buying one. It even looks pretty good.

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The other Axon car

They also make (made?) a version of the Caterham 7 that gets 131 mpg!

Presumably, it's the cross-sectional frontal area that's to blame. I bet if they shelled that Caterham chassis like a "proper" car, they'd get less than 100mpg. Probably half that.

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Why 4 Wheels

This thing is just plain ugly.

Take off a (front) wheel and we could pretend it was a Bond Bug ... I seem to remember these being quite cool at the time (but I was <10 yrs old so my idea of 'cool' might have changed a little) ..

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IT Angle

Axon?

Is in medium-size Kiwi IT supplier?

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@Safety Issues

Regarding the "massive" vs "modern design", Fifth Gear did a head-on crash test between a big old Volvo and a newer Renault Modus (small people-carrier thing) a while back. Both cars would be write-offs, but the occupants of the Modus would be in much better shape than those in the Volvo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBDyeWofcLY

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The Future?

I had an E Type in the 60's that got 25 mpg and went like a rocket. It's still the best looking car ever made and when I stupidly drove through a red light and got T-boned I walked away unhurt.

Seems that in almost 50 years, we haven't progressed much if this Axon is the best we can come up with. Go nukes/hydrogen and quit with this junk.

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@Paul Cooper

Quote:

"I have a production VW Polo Bluemotion II that is rated at 88 mpg on the standard system"

1) This is a diesel. Diesels have been capable of 60mpg+ for many years. Therefore 88mpg is not a big leap. Petrol cars have struggled to get 40mpg, and even the Pri(ck)us only gets 45. Therefore a 100mpg PETROL car is definately something to shout about.

2) Diesels produce more of other harmful substances, and the Blue Motion is no different. The Polo gets around this, and lowers it's emmisions figgures, by installing a filter on the exhaust. This is not much different to the carbon capture schemes (or storing nuclear waste for that matter) as it just stores the crap to be dealt with later.

All in all I would be fascinated to see how they have done it. I suppose weight and aero changes will have made a large difference, but I would love to take the engine to bits :)

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Paris Hilton

@Easy

What if they were travelling at 62.137106 mph?

Paris - 'cos she knows the difference between access & position - oops, sorry, that should be 'acccuracy and precision'.

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No mass listed

Nowhere in any press (or on the Axon website) is the kerb weight mentioned.

Since the whole premise of this car is light weight, this gives me zero confidence in their claims.

I have owned a sub-400kg caged road car, with a 85kg 130bhp bike engine/gearbox and steel chassis. 350kg is easily achievable, if you don't care about performance, comfort, refinement, crash safety, pedestrian safety, production and repair costs, ...

..but everyone does, so this concept proves little that we didn't know already.

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Crash safety

Remember the Citroen AX? It had plastic body panels and as a result was pretty light and therefore economical for its day: the diesel AX got 75mpg ISTR. Nowadays that isn't allowed because the law insists on far better crash safety than it did in the 80s.

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@Safety Issues

The most critical safety issue is due to the use of carbon fibre, it is very strong but not deformable. A more relevant Fifth gear test was when they crashed a Smart 42 (another very small, very light, very rigid car) in to a concert motorway block at 70mph. A few of the plastic panels popped off, but there was very little damage to the car, the structure remained intact, and the crash test dummies didn't experience a scratch. The only trouble being that because there was no deformation to reduce the huge g-forces experienced on impact, any human occupants would have died from massive internal injuries.

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@Steve Foster

The issue about the Fifth Gear test is that it addressed the issue of changes affecting structural integrity of different generations of vehicle, the survivability of the passenger compartment and the way the vehicles deformed in collision. However, there is one basic point of physics which cannot be overcome on a collision between two objects of very different masses.

In a collision between two very different masses, then the smaller one will be subject to a much larger change in speed (which will correspond to a very much larger rate of deceleration of the centre of mass). Collide head on in a car with a heavy truck and there will be a relatively small change to the speed of the latter. However, the car will be brought to a violent halt, very fast, and then be pushed backwards. Even if the car's survival cell is incredibly rigid, then the resulting deceleration forces can be very dangerous to the individuals in that vehicle. The only thing that can be done to reduce this effect is to increase the length of the crushable part of the smaller vehicle, thereby spreading the speed change over a greater distances (reducing the rate of deceleration). There's obviously a limit to this dictated by the dimesions of the car.

So for a collision between a heavy and much lighter car, the occupants of the latter could still come off a lot worse, even if the structural integrity of their vehicle's passenger compartment is not compromised. The ability of human beings to survive extreme deceleration depends on all sorts of things like weight, fitness, age and so on. Such things as the Aorta being torn out of the heart are not survivable and the older you are, the more vulnerable.

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particulates vs CO2

Dr. Mouse: "The Polo gets around this, and lowers it's emmisions figgures, by installing a filter on the exhaust. This is not much different to the carbon capture schemes (or storing nuclear waste for that matter) as it just stores the crap to be dealt with later."

Don't be daft. It's somewhat easier to deal with a cupful of soot than thousands of cubic metres of gas! And it's not radioactive either!

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IT Angle

weight and impacts

This whole thing about big heavy objects hitting little light objects reminds me... I've always wondered how F1 drivers survive 200KPH impacts into walls. They are in Carbon Fibre tubs and the structure around them weighs maybe 30 KG. Yet they can hit a hard barrier and escape unharmed (relatively).

My postulation is that is has to do with angles of impact. If you hit someting heavy absolutely dead-on then I can see the whole mass thing coming in to play, but on an angle, however small, the lines of inertia would mean that the light vehicle will be deflected (or bounce off) rather than totally impacted. But I am only guessing. I'd like to see fifth gear do something real world, as I haven't seen many people hit giant concrete blocks head on at 70 MPH in reality.

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@The Cube

By The Cube-"The problem is the heavy vehicles on the road which offers us a very simple solution, ban everything over 1500kg from all cities during daylight hours. This will do wonders for fuel economy (the Polo is good primarily because it has been on a diet), pedestrian and cyclist safety, emissions, in fact almost all vehicle related problems. Even better it will permanently rid us of the sort of inbreed who thinks they need a 4x4 to do the supermarket and school run."

So no commercial vehicles would be allowed on the roads during daylight hours either? Great thinking! Cities aren't a fucking playground. They run on commerce. Banning everything over 1500kg means nobody can do any work and your city grinds to a halt.

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Re: weight and impacts

F1 cars use an incredibly strong carbon fibre tub to protect the driver, but there are big differences with a road car. The F1 car has wheels on long suspension arms and side pods, all of which are designed to deform and rip off reducing the impact, the nose cone although made of carbon fibre is a long structure designed to progressively unpeel like a banana, reducing forces. The most vulnerable orientation is a rear impact as the engine doesn't have any give.

The other difference is an F1 driver is incredibly fit, very tightly strapped in with a multipoint harness, and with a HANS device preventing neck damage, all of which will greatly increase his chances of surviving a high G impact, than you or I in a road car with a lap and shoulder belt.

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@Steve Foster and that 5th Gear Test

There are many things they never told you in that test...

The Volvo was 10+ years old and hence won't be as strong due to various wear and tear forces

The Volvo was designed in the 70's and still did pretty well considering

The "big heavy Volvo" is less than 200Kgs heavier than the Modus (all that steel for strength comes at a price with weight)

So please don't say big cars are inherently more danerous...

This thing would be great for a town run about (where my Volvo struggles for more than 20mpg - which is why I cycle when possible) but uselss for driving 1500KM from Amsterdam to Venice (where my Volvo averages nearly 40+ in with more saftey, comfort and luxury...)

Maybe in the UK you just need more cycle paths... (I wouldn't have cycled half as much when I lived in the UK as now).

Oh and yes it is Fugly!

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What's in a name?

Axon... Hmm... Doesn't that sound EXACTLY like Exxon, as in Valdez? Perpetrator of one of the biggest environmental disasters in human history?

Not the best association really, given the entire reason for this vehicles intent.

FAIL. Massively.

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@AC (10:20)

"It's somewhat easier to deal with a cupful of soot than thousands of cubic metres of gas! And it's not radioactive either!"

OK, I appologise for a poor analogy, but I was just drawing a comparison to illustrate that the emmisions figures are artificialy lowered.

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Alien

This is not the answer to 'green' issues

I have the perfect solution to saving the planet and it is much simpler than inventing a 'green' car. If the Government gave me permission to kill anybody who pisses me off on the road then we'd reduce our carbon footprint and reduce traffic congestion at the same time. Plus savings to be made on reducing how much food the population needs, NHS waiting lists would be cut and many other things would immediately improve.

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Paris Hilton

Don't trust them. They want to destroy the world !

The Axons are aspects of a nasty alien monster that tried to suck the Earth dry back in the 70's. That time they used friendly looking golden people to lull us into a false sense of security. This time it looks like they're trying to use 'green' cars in the same way.

Back in the 70's The Doctor and U.N.I.T. saved us by locking them in a time loop. If they've escaped, who will save us this time ?

Paris ? Perhaps she could save us by using her womanly charms on them.

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Title

My Citroen - bought specifically for its high mpg figure - often tops 70mpg on long trips and has less challenging styling than this 'car' (quadricycle?). OK so mine is a diesel but since I'm running it on biodiesel the exhaust is cleaner and carbon neutral. In fact, as the veg oil would've gone to landfill it is arguably greener even than this Axon.

I'm convinced that with stop/start technology and *diesel* hybrids 100mpg would be achievable on an ordinary car without any loss of crash-protection, performance or equipment. Conventional cars these days are also much more readily recycled than most other complex equipment whereas carbon fibre is an environmental disaster to produce and dispose of.

But I do agree that the drop-in engine idea is inspired and would make breakdowns and roadside repair less of a lottery.

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Anonymous Coward

@Paul Cooper

The official mpg figure of your car is 88mpg, fine that's close to 100mpg. Except you reckon that on a long run, when cars are generally at their most efficient, you can only achieve 70mpg. So effectively your exemption from VED is under false pretentions. Surely VAG are commiting something akin to fraud here?

Manufacturer's official mpg figures are notorious for being somewhere on the high side. Things are supposed to have improved recently but I've seen no evidence of this. There are notable exceptions, I used to run a little Daihatsu with official mpg figures of about 60mpg and when driving gently I could get almost 70mpg out of a full tank, not a single long journey but a full weeks mixed driving. Diesel Daihatsu's tend to make those figures look pretty silly.

Instantaneous MPG means nothing, after all many modern cars cut fuelling completely on the overrun so will be achieving infinite mpg at those times. So the instantaneous mpg for your Polo are pretty poor by the standards of, say, a perfectly ordinary Nissan Micra.

My concern about this car is nothing to do with it's fueld efficiency, more to do with the environmental impact of the car itself. What is the environmental impact of manufacturing all that carbon fibre and what is the environmental impact of recycling it?

It always concerns me that recycling itself is assumed to be environmentally friendly, yet there is no consideration of the environmental impact of the recycling process. Take for example the process of recycling glass. These days bottles are smashed up and melted down to make new bottles. In the old days you returned your bottle, got 2p for your troubles, and it was checked, cleaned and reused. The old process was much better for the environment, but the modern system probably makes more money for big business. Too much of our supposedly green society is about political spin and making money for business and actually has little consideration for the environment.

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Polo part 2

"The Polo gets around this, and lowers it's emmisions figgures, by installing a filter on the exhaust. This is not much different to the carbon capture schemes (or storing nuclear waste for that matter) as it just stores the crap to be dealt with later."

This is rubbish. The 'crap' that is removed by a particulate filter is soot particles which are a health hazard in the air because of their small size. Trapped in a filter they're no hazard whatever - if the filter doesn't actually burn them off to a tiny bit of extra CO2 during operation, which many types do. The filter does not lower CO2 emissions, it actually increases them slightly. You make it sound as if the Polo is somehow cheating to achieve its MPG figure.

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Bigger is usually not better

Safety is a real concern, given the unorthodox design and materials. Still, the folks saying small cars are less safe are simply misinformed. Here in the US at least, most Honda & Saturn sedans had safety records rivalling the big, heavy gas-hogs from Volvo, last time I checked. And of course, no SUV comes close.

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Re: Photos and wheel arch covers

The wheel arch cover is nothing new, they had those on the old Citroën CX more than 30 years ago. But they had the advantage of having a removable section so it wasn't completely impossible to change a tyre/wheel on the back. Except it was really tricky if the car's hydro-pneumatic suspension had depressurised either due to failure or just settling after parking, which made the car 'hunker down' on it's haunches. Try changing the tyre on one when that happened.

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Wheel covers

The Citroën ID and DS also had covered wheels. It's not unique to Citroën and not a recent development - spats for rear wheels were a popular design element in the 1930s. The HP suspension also helped with wheel changing.

Every point you can imagine has been made above, but the one I always make is:

Mk II Golf GTi 8v. 1980s (70s, really) tech. Seats 5. 0-60 in 8.5 seconds, 115-121mph top speed.

46mpg. Not "quoted", not "best", but the average I got in my 1989 model. I got 52mpg driving it for economy. And that's not the most aerodynamic car, or particularly light for the time (though it seems positively flyweight now).

I'd like to see a Citroën BX with a suitable diesel; perhaps the new 1.6 110 HDi - and MORE use of plastics, perhaps front wings, aluminium doorskins, and the like. Correctly geared that would probably come close to 80mpg, and unlike the Axon would be capable of seating 5 people and delivering reasonable performance.

One of our cars is an A-class, and I can never understand why Mercedes didn't make that final jump, using the sandwich floor for batteries, and perhaps using more lightweight panels (the front wings, and perhaps the tailgate, are plastic. I'm not sure about the tailgate, but it's a common part to be made of materials other than metal. The packaging is brilliant, the concept sound, but they seem reluctant to do the last bit to make it a genuinely useful city car (quite aside from the fact that a hybrid drive, with CVT and electric motor, would be infinitely better than their automatic gearbox options).

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