The specially selected jury of motoring, every month
With the launch of the acclaimed new 3-series, BMW has also revealed details of a sophisticated new electronics package that is aimed straight at the new car's core market. Dubbed Bellendtronic, the new system is fully integrated into the car's control systems and allows a range of functions including full disablement of the indicators, perilously late activation of the brakes and an adapted radar cruise control that allows the driver to sit 4mm from your back bumper in the outside lane of the M6.
Amongst other neat touches, Bellendtronic can also apply light brake pressure at all times, covering the wheels in dust, something that will be a particular benefit if your fleet manager wouldn't let you specify alloy wheels and you want to disguise ugly plastic rim covers or the fact that if you weren't such an aspirational little twat you'd have gone for a rather better equipped Honda Accord. Initially Bellendtronic will be available on the forthcoming 316i and 318i models only, but the system is expected to become standard fitment for all models in the smaller 1-series range within a year.
Other German makers are expected to follow BMW's lead, including Audi who is poised to make certain versions of the A4 available with a rival system dubbed 'Pushytwat Plus'.
How the Bellendtronic button might look, yesterday
BMW LAUNCHES BELLENDTRONIC
ASTON V8 PASSES TESTS INVOLVING LONG LEAD JOURNALISTS
With just months to go until Aston Martin's exciting V8 Vantage goes on sale, the British sports car maker is already confident that the car has passed its toughest development test to date - giving passenger rides to journalists in a variety of extreme testing locations.
"This is an important car for us," said a man who we assumed was from Aston. "Our prospective customers need to know that they can depend on the V8 to have the power, the performance and the pre-publicity to go with its name". Whilst many Aston Martins of the past may have been guilty of arriving in showrooms without having undergone a series of lengthy articles written from the perspective of someone who is in the passenger seat of the car, bosses at the company's Gaydon HQ are confident this won't be the case with the V8. "This car has been put through everything," said one engineer, although possibly not an actual car engineer. "From hot weather testing in the Dubai desert with Andrew Frankel from Autocar in the passenger seat, to the bitter cold of Northern Sweden, accompanied by Nick Trott from CAR magazine, right down to pounding the Nurburgring with Peter Grunert from Top Gear as non-driving co-pilot or covering the testing B-roads of Britain, with Evo's Richard Meaden riding shotgun, there is no extreme to which we haven't taken this car� and then put a journalist in the passenger seat to talk about what the performance and chassis might be like. I think our customers will feel reassured to know that, whatever the conditions, the V8 Vantage will be able to transport a journalist in the passenger seat making vague judgements about the car because he's not allowed to drive it yet".
A V8 Vantage development car prepares to drive across the moon, probably with Ken Gibson in it, yesterday
NEW FIAT CROMA OFFICIALLY MOST POINTLESS CAR EVER
Only days after the covers were taken off Fiat's new Croma, the unattractive range topper has won its first award after being declared The Most Pointless Car In The Entire World. This award, which is voted for by some people or other, had been tipped to be won by the new and extremely pointless SEAT Toledo, so the Croma's last minute victory will come as a surprise, especially to Fiat who usually has to buy expensive things for the Car of the Year jurors if it wants to win anything.
"We really were impressed with just how utterly pointless the new Croma is," said a Pointless Car Award spokesman. "I mean, the Toledo is basically just a slightly longer, slightly uglier Altea and that makes it pretty pointless but this, this is something else. Jesus, who on earth actually wants a sort of tallish not-quite-estate with styling that Giugiaro phoned in from a restaurant. I'm confident when I say that the new Fiat Croma really is just wasting valuable metals and plastics that could be better used to make washing machines, refrigerators or even cars that people might actually want to buy."
The new Croma goes on sale some time soon, but you probably won't actually see one unless you like going to Italy and taking pictures of the shit they're forced to use as police cars over there.
The new Croma, having no discernable reason for existing, yesterday
Sniff Petrol looks at some crazy motoring laws from around the world
1. In The Netherlands it is against the law for a dog to drive a car, unless it is over four years old!
2. In Russia it is considered an offence to be caught driving whilst performing major surgery on your pancreas!
3. In Brazil it is forbidden to stop your car in marked areas, unless you are picking up crack cocaine or hookers!
4. In Sweden it's illegal to carry a murdered tramp on the roof of your car without a permit!
5. In Chile you cannot drag someone from their car and smash their head in with an iron bar, unless you are a police officer!
Our resident used car expert talks about some things in a slightly confusing manner
February is a bad time to stroke a flap hat, but good for the pliant Gary. Saw a low stroll Tomato with light feet, cow's arse and seedy, up for five turds. That's touching cloth. Morrissey.
Up the knockers at Pimping last week, movement was greasy, no fingers for a handsome Slightly at five under the eyes. Grunted into a bucket for three strawberrys, grasped the basket, leaky knees, is this your Field Marshall? Pasty.
Rubbing the Cheese Grater, got tickled by a stout Miriam, 99 on the five, looked smooth for a hamster under two bhuna. Bingo biscuits, ex-william, no spaff hatch. Suits a moist Gary. Smelly.
Stuff my nudgers, it's Helmut outside and that means placing is dirty. Even so, a firm Gary came into the hammock the other day, licking the gristle on a study Greek. Wrestled a bear, held my legs, drenched in cheese. Punched my gran for a lazlo under six geese. Minty.
Having successfully beaten Antonio Pizzonia to the second Williams seat, German driver Nick Heidfeld is to be re-branded as a Brazilian before the start of the 2005 F1 season. The radical plan is designed to appease the team's South American sponsors who were hoping that the seat might be taken by someone less neat and efficient.
"This is the perfect solution," said one senior PR advisor. "All the fiery passion of a South American driver, but neatly integrated into someone who turns up on time and doesn't keep shouting at stuff".
Williams sources say Heidfeld's 'Brazilianess' will be kept topped up throughout the season using hair dye, sunbeds, thongs and rhythmic samba music and, since the not-German-anymore driver rarely speaks anyway, potential accent-related mishaps can be kept in check by ordering him to answer every question with a simple, "Ayayay!"
"I think we might get away with this," said one Williams insider. "It's certainly more convincing than slapping a Chevrolet badge on some old Daewoos".
HEIDFELD GETS RE-BRANDED
Nick Heidfeld, trying to be Brazilian, yesterday
� 2005. Sniff Petrol every month. Next issue 4 March
Written by Sniff Petrol, with thanks to grandprixdiary.com for the Heidfeld thing