How fat is your car?

The Peugeot 207 GTI might be hot, but it's not hot enough. Why? Because it's a fatso. So we at TopGear decided to ‘add lightness'...

This was meant to be a straightforward test. Take a notoriously chubby hot hatch for a lap of the TopGear test track, rip out all the unnecessary weight, lap it again, crow about how much quicker it went the second time and make a sweeping generalisation about how all modern cars are far too fat and wasn't it better when your Austin Allegro tipped the scales at seven kilos and...

Because this is TopGear, things didn’t quite work out like that. Firstly, just before we pitched up at the TG test track on a cold, grey winter morning, rain occurred. A lot of rain. We arrive at Dunsfold to find the track entirely under water, Beluga whales gambolling gracefully through Hammerhead, and a man with a wooden leg and a West Country accent claiming Gambon in the name of Kernow. In the parlance of the TG Lap Time Board it is VW. Very Wetness is our first problem.

Our second problem is the Stig. Or, rather, lack thereof. Our tame racing driver is nowhere to be found. Maybe our choice of car simply hasn't triggered his radar: yes, the Peugeot 207 GTI is, technically, a hot hatch, but it's not a very Stiggish hot hatch. Too wallowy, too soft, too... fat. Not that the 207 GTI is in any way unique for being a bit of a porker. It's indicative of a general trend towards portliness, but thanks to its nimble ancestor the 205 GTI, the weight gain here seems more heinous than it does in its many blubby rivals. According to official figures, the old 205 GTI tips the scales at 900kg with a power-to-weight ratio of 149bhp/tonne. The 207 GTI is just over 1,300kg with a power-to-weight ratio of 133bhp/tonne. Oh dear. This is why we've chosen the 207 as the guinea pig for our quickfire diet strategy.

In the absence of Dr Stiggian McKeith, and in order to best accentuate the merits of weight loss, we set about converting the TopGear Power Lap Test Track into the Patented TopGear Handling Circuit through the highly technical addition of a dozen cones scattered at strategic intervals.

As we drop the final cone into place, he appears, stalking out from behind a Nissen hut with a half a dozen stray cats in tow. If the Stig did expressions, this would be one of disdain. He eyes the 207, parked up on the start line, for a few seconds. Satisfied that it is, at least, a car, he slides into the driver's seat, guns the throttle and just... goes. Cats scatter. Blasting along the sopping track, he crunches the brakes into the first chicane and the hazard warnings flash on.

He exits the chicane on three wheels, the 207 scrabbling for grip as it splashes up the main straight. Using every inch of the track, and a little of the grass too, Stig is up for this one. His first lap is clocked at 1:47.8. The second is a 1:46.6. The third, fourth and fifth are all within a tenth of each other, culminating in an immaculate 1:46.4. Typically awesome consistency from Stig, and that's as fast as this car is going. Remember that these times can't be compared with those on the telly show's Power Laps board: Stig has an extra trio of chicanes to manoeuvre around. 1:46.4 looks like a mighty good marker, though.

Stiggie hauls the 207 to a slithering stop on the start line, steps from the car and stands there, arms folded. If poses could say ‘rip some of the heavy crap out of this lardy hot hatch', it'd be this one.

Before we set about the 207, we drop it onto our borrowed set of Highly Technical Race Scales. With no driver and half a tank of fuel, it clocks 1,273kg. What are we aiming to lose here? 100kg sounds like a decent target. A nice round number, the weight of a prop forward. We grab spanners and screwdrivers and several large hammers and get to work.

Forget actually racing the damn thing: ripping the innards from a hatchback may be the most fun you can have on a circuit. We are Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, vanquishing carefully created bits of Peugeot 207 with relish. With surprising ease, out comes the front passenger seat, wires trailing as the airbag sensors are torn from their moorings, and then the glass sunroof, replaced by, er, a piece of cardboard, good for weight if not weather-hardiness. Or aesthetics.

The rear seats are next to be dispatched, shortly followed by the piece de resistance, the entire carpet set, ripped in a single swathe from the 207 like a snake shedding its skin from within. Though, in the interests of simplicity, we've opted against lightweight brakes or plexiglass windows, we decide to fit a set of lighter alloys and fresh Pirelli P-Zero tyres: a sure-fire way to knock a few seconds off our lap time and prove our weight-saving point.

We proffer a spanner to the Stig, but he simply strides past us, straps himself into the driver's seat - the one remaining chair - and grips the steering wheel purposefully, leaving us to try to extricate the centre console from around him. As we rip out the door cards with a satisfying crack, Stig twists the key and revs the engine with menace. He is ready.

There is more that we could do, but Stig waits for no man. We decide to forego removing the door speakers, dash switches and grab handles because, well, that way madness lies: where do you stop? Saving two grams by removing a two gram screw from the seatbelt catch? Stig is impatient, and time is of the essence. With a plate of jam-slathered offal, we coax him, and the 207, onto the scales. Factoring out the weight of the white-suited one - like Bruce Forsyth's real age and the Queen's bra size, the kerbweight of our racing driver is subject to the International Secrets Act - the 207 tips the scales at 1,149kg. We've saved 124kg, almost exactly 10 per cent of the 207's kerbweight. That's a significant amount. Were it not for the sport's stringent weight regulations, F1 teams would kill - actually, physically kill human beings - for a 10 per cent weight reduction.

We finish by liberally applying gaffer tape to the 207's shut lines, because... well, we're not sure quite why, but it feels like a suitably DIY and motorsporty thing to do, and shepherd Stig to the start line again. Before he sets off for a lightweight lap of the TGPHC, we take a second to admire our mighty efforts.

We are masters of engineering. We have created a 207 touring car, an uncompromised, raw monster deserving of a place in TG's Lightweights Edition. It is snappily christened the 207 TG GTI Superleggera Sport RS, and we ready the stopwatch for Stig's timed lap and the subsequent celebrations of our modifying genius. Before you start complaining that conditions might have changed, they haven't: the track is still sopping wet and strewn with deep puddles.

He is off. Piling round our handling circuit, the 207 Superleggera looks far livelier now, twitchier under braking and much looser at the back. On the approach to Bacharach, Stig hangs the tail out in a languid slide, a plume of spray roostering from the back as he goes. This looks fast. He crosses the line and...

Er, right. This is a bit difficult to admit. It's a 1:46.4. Exactly the same time. Convinced that something must have gone askew in Stiggie's programming, we send him out for another lap. 1:46.5 this time. Then another 1:46.5 and two 1:46.4s on the spin, the second of which sees the cardboard sunroof detach itself unceremoniously from the 207 as Stig wrestles through Gambon. No blame attached to Stig: he is driving that car as fast as it will possibly go, and it is going no faster than before. Bugger. We have removed many Fairly Important Bits from Peugeot's nice 207 and made it exactly no more fast.

After Stig slams the 207's lightweight door shut and stomps off in the direction of Chiddingfold, seemingly disgusted by our failed attempts to prove Colin Chapman's principles, I set off for a couple of laps in our 207 Superleggera. It feels quite different, sharper on turn-in, more prone to oversteer, less stable. It is also monstrously loud, every cough and parp from the exhaust buzzing viciously through the cabin. In my inexpert hands, as in the expert paws of the Stig, it is absolutely no faster. Ah.

So what have we proved here? It has been bemoaned a million times before that all the stuff in cars is too heavy and we should just get rid of most of it, but seats are useful for sitting on, airbags are useful for stopping you dying horribly, and parcel shelves are useful for shelving parcels (actually, has anyone ever actually put a parcel on a parcel shelf?). TG's 207 Superleggera is, essentially, useless as an everyday car, and not any quicker around a track. No question that many components could, and should, be made lighter - seats, particularly, are reaching a worrying level of heft - but that's a job for manufacturers, for suppliers, for people with computers and qualifications. Not idiots with hammers.

Stig's analysis suggested the problem was two-fold: first, that by tearing so much weight out of the back, we unbalanced the 207, losing a bit of grip, a problem exacerbated by the slippery conditions. Second, and more importantly, he didn't rate the wet performance of the tyres on our lightweight wheels - P-Zeroes, remember, which should have been better, grippier. Properly set-up, Stig reckoned, our 207 Superleggera could have saved three seconds a lap. But it wasn't set up properly. It wasn't set up at all. Just as power is nothing without control, so lightweightness is nothing without finesse. Motorsport is an exact science and we are amateurs. Crash diets don't work, kids.

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车迷小王子 Email
2010/05/09 14:47
学习了
yuangs Email
2010/05/06 22:13
BiG
2010/05/05 18:08
为什么不尝试+尾翼..
M3 GTS轻量化后需要+尾翼了,因为轻量化会严重影响前置引擎车的前后比重,尾翼是必需的
=====================================
对于前驱车来说,加尾翼的意义远远无法比上加车头下分流器或者扰流翼的作用来的大,毕竟前驱。这也是TG很早以前在雷诺风景上证明过的。
小飞哥
2010/05/06 21:44
调教固然重要,虽然没看过视频,但这样头重尾轻的车貌似不能以常规的方式开,刹车带到弯心的话后轮会严重失去抓地力(重心向前转移),over steering也就难免了,何况普通胎+湿滑路面。只能在进弯前完成减速,弯中不能减速,加油门像火车一样拖着后轮跑,这车还能做一个改进,像DTM那样让Stig坐在后排开会好一点。期待视频~grin
单戈
2010/05/06 18:39
恩,欧洲车我只喜欢法国和意大利小钢炮至少以后努努力买得起吧。。。。
阿c
2010/05/06 15:46
很多人就是认为轻最重要,往往忘了调教才是最根本的!
RNC
2010/05/06 00:44
很有意思的测试。
不过TG总是喜欢搞这种不清不楚的测试,一次改变太多因素,得不出多少有价值的结论。
要么只单独减重,测试一下。
要么只单独换轮胎,测试一下。
要么干燥路面再测试一下。
又是重量变化,又是轮胎变化,又是湿地,有意搞得大家头晕。
复杂系统的调试也是一步一步来的,一个因素一个因素的调。
积累了足够多经验的,可以用计算仿真。但是测试结果和仿真结果不一致的时候,还是得一个因素一个因素调。一次动那么多,想说明啥问题,TG作风真是一贯的顽皮。
22222
2010/05/05 23:41
话说.改车实在是一门很大的学问.国内那些所谓改车.真的只是强化了某一方面.基本是动力...其余的全都忽略了.一台真正落场的赛车.那个改装和调教是非常的麻烦和有深度的...不然那些专业的赛车工程师凭啥调校一辆车能跟你要好几十万的钱?
Mephisto
2010/05/05 22:45
再次说明调教才是根本
阿Dic
2010/05/05 22:40
再次证明了GTR虽然重,但快得有道理grin
speed
2010/05/05 22:34
的确,“平衡”就是精髓
Alphonse Email
2010/05/05 22:09
学习完毕...
yuangs Email
2010/05/05 22:07
这就是为何GT-R那么重却凭借着合理的设定以及优异的调教跑得那么快的原因。也是为何Spec-V到现在也没有一个官方Nur成绩的原因。肯定水野觉得没有调到车子最完美的那种状态。恩。。。希望是因为这类原因,而不是为了其他车型让路。
Andy Lee Email
2010/05/05 21:42
0-400加速至少快一点吧
NICKEY
2010/05/05 20:37
最新TOP Gear 在那可以看得到?
小猪
2010/05/05 20:14
赞!!!
喜欢stig
lol
2010/05/05 18:10
轮胎不行啦,下雨天用p-zero 开玩笑
BiG
2010/05/05 18:08
为什么不尝试+尾翼..
M3 GTS轻量化后需要+尾翼了,因为轻量化会严重影响前置引擎车的前后比重,尾翼是必需的
INFINITY Email
2010/05/05 17:45
这个貌似昨天在TOP GEAR杂志中文版上看到....
Fisher
2010/05/05 15:55
TG有一集是轻量化一辆箱式雷诺,减重后重新调教了。速度才快一点,单独减重作用不大。
唐龙御
2010/05/05 13:21
赛车是高科技的产物。
想要“快”
得钱铺路。科技做后盾。
我个人作为超级业余爱好者。
已经在前几天正式回归理性。
“赛车”我自己偶尔娱乐下就好。
主要是要感谢山内。感谢GT5P。感谢至强。

线位。油门。刹车。方向。角度等等。还真得一生下来就学。
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