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Drive Life : January 14th 2011
1HERSA1 0009 *3 year free ser vice based on standard scheduled servicing (normal operating conditions) until first of 3 years or 40,000kms. ^Drive away price for the Koleos Expression manual 4x2 non-metallic paint. ol rawford Motors 497 Pittwater Road, Brookvale 2100. Tel: 99 41 1200 DL 6342. Northshore Motors 60 Pacific Highway, Waitara 2077. Tel: 9 473 7122 DL11646. Overs ity 573 Gardeners Road, Mascot 2020. Tel: 9317 2111 DL 11226. Peter Warren Renault Hume Highway, Warwick Farm (Liverpool) 2170. Tel: 9828 8844 DL5411. Rick amelian Renault Cnr Elswick Street & Parramatta Road, Leichhardt 2040. Tel: 9560 1000 MD18402. REN1811/SMH www.renault.com.au 5-Star EURO NCAP Safety Rating ABS with EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) ESP (Electronic Stability Program) 6 Airbags 17" Alloy Wheels Cruise control with speed limiter Fog lights Bluetooth® Hands Free system KOLEOS EXPRESSION Free Service or 40,000kms*. Unlimited Warranty. Unlimited Roadside Assist. YEAR ADULT OCCUPANT RIVE THE HANGE ROSSOVER WITH ONFI EN E For a limited time, with free 3 year scheduled services* RIVE AWAY $29,990^ The Sydney Morning Herald Friday, January 14, 2011 9 DriveLIFE cover story Improvements . . . (clockwise from above left) intermittent windscreen wipers; testing for refinements; boiling engines a thing of the past; disc brakes don't fade. Photos: Getty Images, Joshua Dowling from a repairer. In the event of minor chips, it was also possible to fix the windscreen without the need for a new one. ''The worst part of the early cars was crashing through the windscreen in the event of a collision,'' Davis says. ''If you went through the early type of windscreen, you were in big trouble.'' 3. WINDSCREEN WIPERS It wasn't just stones that played havoc with early windscreens; rain and bugs were a daily hazard. The first wipers were invented at the beginning of the 20th century to cope with these problems and were in regular use by the '20s. At their most basic, wipers could operate at one speed; the flashier ones had low and high speeds. But it was not until the '70s that the intermittent wiper, a particularly useful device in light rain when drivers otherwise had to keep turning the wipers on and off, started to appear. American engineer Robert Kearns invented and patented the mechanism but fought long legal battles with Ford and Chrysler over infringement of the patent, both of which he won, and which were retold in the 2008 film Flash of Genius. 4. FUEL INJECTION Starting a car on a cold morning used to mean pulling the choke valve and then adjusting it as the engine warmed up. In many older cars, this also meant waiting until the engine was warm before it could be driven. But fuel-injection systems that replaced carburettors as a way of mixing fuel and air, and which were added to most new cars during the '80s and '90s, made this a thing of the past. They work by forcing fuel through a valve at high pressure, which, as well as making engines easier and quicker to start, makes them more fuel-efficient and responsive during acceleration. In the '50s, four of these valves for each cylinder was considered revolutionary on Ferraris and Maseratis, Hagon says. Today, the cheapest cars have them. 5. DISC BRAKES Hagon says the introduction of disc brakes had an enormous impact because they stopped ''brake fade'' -- when old drum brakes failed if too hot. ''If you came down a steep hill and were on the brakes too long they got too hot and they didn't work.'' 6. ANTI-LOCK BRAKES A further improvement was anti- lock braking systems (ABS), which were progressively introduced on new cars from the '70s. These stop the wheels from locking up when a driver brakes suddenly and allow the car to be steered at the same time. This gives the driver more control over the vehicle and, in most cases, reduces the braking distance. Davis reckons it's one of the biggest advances in vehicle safety. ''You can now brake very fiercely in very poor conditions.'' 7. COMPUTER DESIGN Vibrations that would shake the whole car were a hallmark of early motoring but they are largely a thing of the past. Computer modelling has allowed engineers and designers to make vehicle bodies extremely rigid and stop them from twisting and shaking, while more sophisticated suspension systems are much better at soaking up bumps and keeping the car stable. Better aerodynamics and improved seals around doors have helped cut noise. 8. AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS Automatic transmissions and synchromesh on manual gearboxes have both made changing gears a thoughtless task. It wasn't so easy in the early cars, however, when unsynchronised gearboxes meant the driver had to match the speed of the engine with that of the spinning gear, a tricky process that involved a process called ''double clutching''. If it wasn't done properly, the gears would grind noisily and not engage. The synchromesh solved that by bringing the gear and the output shaft to the same speed before the two engaged. The most recent advance in transmission technology is dual-clutch autos, which combine the best of traditional autos and manuals. 9. FUEL-SAVING TECHNOLOGY Both Davis and Hagon agree that one of the biggest improvements has been in fuel economy. Despite heavier cars (with more safety and comfort features) and worse traffic snarls, your petrol dollar goes a lot further these days. ''Fuel-economy improvements are coming from everywhere: the engine, transmission, wheel bearings and tyres and the road surface,'' Hagon says. 10. ELECTRONICS The computer power on board a modern car would ''run rings around a lot of what we've got in our houses and businesses'', Hagon says. ''If you took electronics out of a car today, the thing would be stuffed.'' He adds that these systems are particularly reliable, controlling everything from the brakes to fuel injection and high- tech accident-avoidance technology that can react to an emergency in a millisecond. In more expensive cars, computers control when the wipers come on or the personalised settings for each driver, including seat adjustment, height of the steering wheel and music he or she likes to listen to. For all these improvements, however, the experience of driving today is not nearly as enjoyable as it was, Davis says. Modern cars might be easier and more pleasant to drive but there is a sameness about them. ''They're much less fun,'' he says. Where are they now? Not every automotive invention has taken off. For example, gearsticks mounted through the dashboard to the gearbox behind were popular in some French vehicles during the 1970s, such as the Renault 5, which had its gearbox in front of the engine. It didn't last long, however, and Renault soon replaced it with a gearstick mounted on the floor. Another one was pop-up headlights, which were popular but haven't been seen on a new car for years. Often used because of a car's design, these lights were more complex and expensive to build than standard lights and often more unreliable. In older cars, it was common for one light to remain up while the other was closed. Four-wheel steering, of the type used in the Mazda MX-6 and the Honda Prelude, has never been popular, either, despite the fact it can reduce the turning circle at low speed and make the car more stable to drive at high speed. Another innovation that has remained on the sidelines is the single windscreen wiper, made popular by Mercedes-Benz's ''monoblade'', which can reach more of the window than standard dual wipers.
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