Rinspeed Splash - amphibious sportscar unveiled

Rinspeed Splash - amphibious sportscar unveiled
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The Rinspeed Splash Amphibious Hydrofoil Sportscar previewed by Gizmo in December 2003 was unveiled to the world at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show - the Splash is capable of 80 kmh (approx. 45 knots) on the water and 200 kmh on land. The design is yet another concept from Swiss creative studio Rinspeed, whose concept designs have graced the pages of Gizmo several times in our short history. In 2002 it was the Presto, a collapsible car which turned from a four seat convertible to a two-seater at the press of a button. Then, last August Rinspeed showed the Bedouin, an off-road vehicle capable of extending and retracting just like the Presto. In early January this year we showed the CAD drawings of the Splash and now the car has been unveiled, the tenth Rinspeed concept car and the most outrageous to date.

Under the ultra-light carbon-composite skin lies much more than just an agile and lively sports car. At the push of a button an hydraulic mechanism transforms the sports car into an amphibious vehicle and an integrated hydrofoil system enables the Splash to fly at an altitude of about 60 cm above the water. On land, on water, and in the air

The almost magical transformation from a street vehicle into a floating and flying all-rounder is made possible by an electronically controlled high-pressure hydraulic system with an array of sophisticated sensors. The transformation starts at the rear panel, which flips up to reveal a watercraft Z-drive in horizontal rest position. The Z-drive is fitted with a conventional 3-bladed propeller and can be lowered to its fully 'standing' position from the cockpit. The position of the drive is infinitely variable, which guarantees immediate propulsion upon entering the water.

A transfer case sends power to the rear wheels, the propeller or both, depending on the input from the pilot. Starting at a water depth of about 1.1 meters the Z-drive can be lowered all the way to its fully 'standing' position. Steering commands are entered via the steering wheel and transferred to the Z-drive. To fully understand the transformation, view these flash animations which showa three dimensional rotation of the Splash and an animation of the conversion from land to water.

At a minimum water depth of about 1.3 meters the pilot can deploy a highly complex system of hydrofoils integrated into the sleek body of the Splash. The Formula-1 type rear spoiler rotates 180 degrees down and comes to rest below the Splash. To the left and right of the high side walls of the cockpit, two hydrofoils integrated into the outside skin rotate 90 degrees to point straight down before unfolding into their lifting V shape.

The angle of each hydrofoil can be adjusted individually by the pilot to account for the various operating states. The Splash begins to lift itself out of the water at low speed and the hydrofoil can be fully extended by 30 kmh. It then travels as a true hydrofoil about 60 cm above the water and the wheels are above the water. On smooth water the Splash is capable of reaching a top speed of about 80 kmh (approx. 45 knots).

The Splash can also be operated as a 'conventional' amphibious vehicle. With retracted hydrofoils the Splash reaches a top speed of almost 50 kmh (approx. 28 knots), which is fast enough for water skiing or knee boarding. The body of the Splash is designed to be watertight and additional buoyancy chambers are fitted to provide extra lift.

Also borrowed from shipbuilding are a bulkhead design with independent chambers and bilge pumps - in case some water does find its way into the cockpit or the engine bay. Fourteen rubber bellows guarantee freedom of movement of drive train, suspension and steering.

Compact natural-gas power

The Splash is powered by an environmentally friendly bivalent turbocharged natural-gas engine. Natural gas is an extremely clean-burning fuel that consists almost entirely of methane with near-zero sulphur content. A turbocharged two-cylinder four-valve 750cc engine powers the Splash, delivering maximum power of 140 bhp/103 kW at 7000rpm and peak torque of 150Nm at 3500 rpm.

Though the Splash has only a small motor, its street performance is nothing to be ashamed of: the 825 kg quick-change artist accelerates in to 100kmh in 5.9 seconds and reaches a top speed of 200 kmh. No bounds

The sleek lines of the Splash draw attention at first glance. However, one of the basic ideas behind the Splash concept was to design an automobile whose multi-functional capabilities are not immediately apparent. Hardly anyone will realise that the 'soft-edge design' Splash can fulfill the age-old child's dream of almost boundless mobility at the push of a button.

The entire body of the 'Splash' is made of carbon fibre composite, a state-of-the-art plastic used in two wheeled exotica such as the Zonda and Formula One racing, where only yhe best will suffice. It offers exceptional stability at a low specific weight. The striking bodylines of the Splash are the expression of the fine art of engineering. The low windshield protects against drafts and its tinted Folia Tec glass contributes to the futuristic chrome look. For more information, visit the Rinspeed site

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