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Article - Porsche E1, VW MAC

Another article from today's Sydney Morning Herald:

Porsche has big plans, VW has a big MAC

The Germans' billion-mark off-roader is a massive and ambitious project ... 
but don't expect a high-rise 911. Georg Kacher reports.

Later this month in the boardrooms of Porsche and Volkswagen, the makers'
jointly developed luxury 4WD project - with an optional 12-cylinder engine -
will be confirmed for production in 2001. Porsche calls the majestic off-roader
the E1 - and expects the massive vehicle to double its sales figures. At VW,
the more affordable version is known as the Multi-Activity Cruiser (MAC).

Both versions of the new upmarket wagon will be built in the same plant, yet
will differ substantially inside and out. Bespoke interiors and specific,
made-to-measure exteriors are a must at the projected price.

According to Porsche chairman Wendelin Wiedeking, the company is prepared to
invest a billion deutschmarks, or $833 million, and already has spent a couple
of hundred million on design proposals, production plans and even prototype

"There is no doubt about it: Porsche is totally committed to this project.
After all, we are not talking about an additional 5,000 vehicles here. [The E1]
must quite simply double our sales volume," Wiedeking said.

VW has finalised the design of its MAC. Porsche's "sporty sport-utility" won't
be a blown-up Porsche 911 riding on a stacked suspension. The finishing touches
are almost complete on the E1, a big off-roader with an all-new five-door body
aimed at leisure-oriented and luxury-conscious customers.

There are some 911 overtones - the wind-cheating body betters even the pace-
setting aerodynamics of the Mercedes M Class - but there is nothing coupe-like
about the vehicle's proportions and interior space.

The key to its claimed excellent hand-ling is the height-adjustable suspension.
According to one insider, the ride-height control device will be tyre-maker
Continental's pneumatic system.

On-road, the E1/MAC should handle and perform more like a sporty station wagon
than a lumbering off-roader. In the bush, however, it is designed to be every
bit as competent as the M Class or Range Rover.

As for equipment, the only limitation is the buyer's budget.

VW and Porsche will have three petrol engines each; VW is likely to have at
least one turbo diesel. After long arguments, the partners have reportedly
settled for a 2.8-litre V6, a 3.7-litre eight-cylinder and a 5.6-litre
12-cylinder. Porsche will tweak its versions for outputs of more than 180 kW,
260 kW and 330 kW respectively.

The body will be made of steel, not aluminium, and all four wheels will be
driven permanently. Traction and stability will be monitored by an advanced
"black box" system.

Chris Palmer (1995.5 S6 Avant)              "Ashes to ashes,
Data General Corporation                     dust to dust,
chris_palmer@dg.com                          If Lillee don't get yer,
                                             Thommo must!"