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The new 2014 Jeep Cherokee - A Closer Look

I thought I had seen a design team screw up when I saw the Aston Martin Rapide S (full post: Aston Martin Rapide S - What were they thinking?) but this is something else.. besides the grille, this looks nothing like a Jeep should look.




The profile looks far better. I can easily see resemblance to the Grand Cherokee, which is a very good thing since it looks great, but those headlights just ruin the front for me. Apparently it was designed to look contemporary in 2019, when it becomes due for a redesign. Why? Shouldn't it look contemporary now? It WILL be redesigned in 2019. People's tastes evolve along with car design. If we've learned anything from the history of car design, if a design is too far ahead of people's tastes, it is usually not very well received.




The interior looks good and a definite upgrade over the current Compass and Patriot. It will still be offered in front-wheel drive and all wheel drive configurations and with two engine choices - a 2.4 litre Ti…

Aston Martin Rapide S - What were they thinking? - A Closer Look

That gaping grille.. I can hardly notice any other detail about the car in any picture showing the front, which is just wrong for an Aston Martin. Besides the fact that it's ugly, Aston Martin's designs always flow without being "fluid" and busy. At first glance, you see the car as a whole - a beautiful piece of design. This just isn't the case here. The rest of the car flows very nicely, as it should for an Aston. I wish I could talk to an Aston Martin design engineer. What were they thinking? Performance isn't very strong either, for what it is.



Many people are upset about the numbers. 4.7 s 0-60 mph and 13.1 s @ 111 mph isn't slow (full post: Aston Martin Rapide S Test) but it is far from impressive these days, especially for a $200,000+ exotic super sedan.. with a 5.9 litre V12 engine.. but it doesn't really bother me. This is not the point of an Aston Martin, especially a sedan. Let's face it, owners of this car are not going to track it or …

Details about the U.S.- spec 2015 VW Golf GTI (Mk VII)

The first detail about the 2015 Golf GTI (Mk VII/Mk 7) that caught my attention was the available torque sensing limited slip differential. The differential will be offered as part of a performance package that adds horsepower and bigger brakes along with the upgraded differential. The brake-based limited slip differential has been an area of criticism with the current GTI so this should be a great upgrade. However, torque has increased significantly to 258 lb-ft (although power gets only a small bump to 210 hp).



Although the Golf GTI has been low on power compared to turbocharged FWD hot hatches and compact sedans, it always has been well balanced and composed. Will the extra torque spoil the balance of the GTI? The Mazda Mazdaspeed3 uses a torque sensing limited slip differential but the front end is still nervous and torque steer is just about the worst in the class. I doubt the GTI will be that bad but will it be worse than the outgoing model? Will this move force Ford to offer a…

Ticket for Driving 2 MPH Under The Limit

There are some people on the road who don't take too well to being passed, even if they're driving under the limit. Sometimes when I pass a driver and get back in the right lane, he or she floors the accelerator, changes lanes and drives in the left/passing lane next to a slow vehicle at the same speed that vehicle to block me for a while. Needless to say, it is VERY frustrating and it seems like people like that may have something to worry about in the future.

According to Jalopnik, a lady in Maryland was pulled over and ticketed for driving 2 mph under the limit (full post: You'll Love The Police For Giving A Woman A Ticket For 2 MPH Under The Limit). I don't know if she was blocking someone in particular, as I have seen happen several times on the highway, or she simply didn't think it was a big deal to drive under the limit in a passing lane. There is usually a law that states you can only drive in the left lane while passing. I don't know if that's the…

2013 Ford Focus ST Lap Times - A Closer Look

A few weeks ago, Car and Driver posted their annual new and updated performance cars test - Lightning Lap 2013 (Car and Driver's Lightning Lap 2013 - A Closer Look). While the Focus ST has yet to disappoint a reviewer in terms of driving balance and handling, especially for a front-wheel drive, performance numbers and lap times were a little lower than expected.

The Lightning Lap is held at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), where the Focus ST posted a lap time of 3:21.4. In case you are not familiar with the track and the lap times, this time puts it behind competitors like the Golf GTI MkVI, the Subaru BRZ, the Mini Cooper John Cooper Works, the Subaru Impreza WRX and the Mazda Mazdaspeed 3. One thing to note, though, is that it wasn't all smooth sailing for the Focus ST during Lightning Lap 2013.

The Lightning Lap test is simple in that cars are ranked based only on their lap times over 3 days of tests. They usually record the fastest lap times on the second day, which …

Can't afford a Stingray? Get a Corvette Coupe!

Chevrolet has released plenty of information about the C7 Corvette - the Stingray. There are many improvements such as a more aerodynamics body, a stiffer and lighter aluminum chassis and standard carbon fibre roof and hood to lower weight further and bring the centre of gravity lower. All of this sounds great for performance but not so much for the price. To make sure the Corvette stays affordable, Chevrolet is planning a base Corvette coupe that won't share the Stingray moniker.

The Corvette coupe is expected to have a smaller version of the new all-aluminum direct injection small block V8. The displacement is expected to be around 5.3 litres and should have around or just under 400 hp. Chevrolet considered a twin-turbo V6 but didn't use it because it delivered on power goals but not fuel economy. I expect carbon fibre bits to be replaced with lower-cost aluminum or fibreglass ones and the 7-speed manual to be replaced with a 6-speed unit. Chevrolet said during the release …

Mods That Make People Think You're A Dirtbag

Ever wonder what mods make you look like a dirtbag to people? Jalopnik put together a top-10 list of worst mods according to its readers (full post: Ten Car Mods That Make People Think You're An A--hole). I agree with the majority of them and I am actually (pleasantly) surprised that stance is number 1 on the list. However, I wouldn't put stance as number one. My number one is very low on the offence list - sitting comfortable at number 9.




HID Kits In Stock Housings: As Jalopnik wrote, wanting better and brighter headlights is just fine. Getting a cheap set isn't a problem for me either - it's your car and it's up to you to take care of it - and putting them in stock housings isn't necessarily the problem. The problem is HIDs in reflector/non-projector housings. Nothing says you're dirtbag more than blinding oncoming traffic, increasing the risk of a crash, because you're too cheap to properly modify your car.

HIDs in reflector housings are not only bad …

SRT Viper ACR is coming!

Unsurprisingly, a more track focused Viper ACR has been confirmed for production (Viper GTS-R shown). SRT CEO Ralph Gilles has previously hinted at a Viper ACR but a high-level at Chrysler has confirmed to Motor Trend that a faster snake is already under development. Apparently, the reason for the delay is not budget or technical difficulties facing the SRT team. Rather, it's a problem with the tires.

The SRT team would like some of the sticky goodness wrapping the Corvette ZR1's wheels - the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires. However, Michelin wouldn't sell the tires to SRT. The Corvette team may have had something to do with it but that would be difficult to confirm. Either way, they are now pressing their supplier, Pirelli, to develop something comparable to the Pilot Sport Cup tires to be used on the Viper ACR. The development for the car and tires are expected to be done for the 2014 calendar year.

Along with upgraded tires, the ACR should receive a bunch of performance…

700 hp C7 Corvette Stingray ZR1 may be in the works!

The C7 Chevy Corvette - the Stingray - was revealed last month and the details are very promising (full post: The Stingray is back! Details about the new 2014 C7 Corvette). If we're to learn anything from the changes from C5 to the C6 Corvette, the C7 base and Grand Sport Corvettes will approach the performance of the current Z06. Carbon fibre bits and an all aluminum frame are now standard across all models. As a result the new car is 99 lbs lighter but the chassis 57% stiffer than the outgoing model. With the added help of 50/50 weight distribution and increased power, GM says the base model Stingray will be quicker than the current Grand Sport Corvette. That means the Z06 will have to move up a lot in performance and so will the ZR1.

The next ZR1 is expect to use a supercharged version of the new LT-1 V8 in the new base Corvette, much like the current Corvette ZR1 formula, with about 700 hp. The Z06 may keep its massive naturally aspirated 7.0 litre V8 but with more power. Fuel …

2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club vs. 2013 Scion FR-S - A Closer Look

When Jeremy Clarkson presented the Toyota GT-86 (Scion FR-S over here) and Subaru BRZ on Top Gear (Season 19 - Episode 3), he praised them for offering affordable RWD fun. With a balanced lightweight chassis, fuel economy tires (little grip) and RWD, the car offers the same sort of fun you can have in German RWD sports sedans, but with two exceptions - lack of power and a luxury car price tag. It sounds like a good formula but the case changes in North America because the domestics have that area covered - affordable, fun RWD cars and they've even got power to boot so marketing them that way won't work. What's the selling point then? The only advantage cars like the Mazda MX-5 offer over here is lightweight handling.

Motor Trend's comparison of $28k high performance two door cars that they had last year (full post: Comparison: $28K High-Performance Two-Door) used that advantage to choose the winner. I personally would buy the Mustang V6 if I were in the market with tha…






Does An Aftermarket Grille Really Increase Airflow?
I put a Saleen S281 grille to the test to answer that question.

Stock Suspension S197 Mustang With Square 305/30/19's
What you need to fit a proper size square tire setup.

How Limited Slip Diffs Make You Faster on Track
What you need to know about how they put power down and pros and cons.

Can Telemetry Explain Schumacher's Talent?
A comparison between Schumacher's and then team mate Herbert's data.






Cayman GT4 Track Review
The first Cayman with proper (911-challenging) power.

Is an EcoBoost Mustang any good on Track?
Two days at the track in a Mustang short 4 cylinders.

2016 BMW M4 DCT Track Review
It's quick (properly quick). But is it fun?

Can a stock Golf Diesel handle a Track Day?
Not your every day track beater.




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Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. Although not a true "R-comp" tire on paper, it performs like one by the account of every single test and review I've read (down to wear rates...). They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track loads.…

Stock Suspension S197 Mustang With Square 305/30/19's

If you've had any doubts about whether or not they will fit, fear not! You absolutely can run square 305/30/19's. I had a lot of doubts before pulling the trigger, even more so when the wheels where on the car. The tires do poke out a bit and I figured rubbing is all but guaranteed at full compression but I couldn't be happier I trusted APEX and those on here who have run it.

Here's what you need:

1. Camber plates: I have MM C/C plates and they are maxed out at -2.3 deg with the stock struts. I have been running them for years with many track days without issue.

2. 1"/25 mm spacer: I have Motorsport-tech 1" spacers and they look like high quality units. There is maybe a 1/4 inch clearance in the back so you can't go any narrower than 25 mm. http://www.motorsport-tech.com/adaptec/car/ford_s and you want Design 2.


3. Elongated studs: your best bet is to get the FPP hubs with elongated studs instead of reusing the old one. Bearings are consumables anyway so…

Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R Track Review

For better or for worse, I have heard and read so much about RE-71R's. Everyone swears by the grip but complains about the wear. Generally speaking, the pros are:

1. They grip as well or better than most R comps.
2. They don't wear as quickly as R comps if driven occasionally on the street.
3. They work better in the rain than R comps.

The cons were limited to overheating quickly when used on track (being an autocross tire) and wearing too fast on heavy cars like mine.

In the popular 200 TW category, they are faster than the popular Hankook RS-4's and BFGoodrich Rival S's according to published Tire Rack Tests. According to plenty of reviews, they are also faster than well established R comps like R888R's (which don't seem to work too well on heavy cars anyway) and the venerable NT01's. But I was still hesitant for a while until I talked to a tire tech support gentleman at Tire Rack who has gone faster on RE-71R's than NT01s. In a Mustang (his own, not…

GTR vs Evo X vs STI: which has the best AWD system?

A few weeks ago, I made a post explaining mainstream AWD system types and how they compare, pros and cons, etc. including some simple diagrams to show where the power goes and how much. As promised, this post will focus on specific cars and what AWD systems they use, especially ones that that have more or less been defined by their AWD systems, and the best place to start may be with a bombshell; the Nissan GT-R.


Nissan GT-R (R35)

The GT-R has built a reputation around having monster traction and very approachable performance, thanks to its AWD system - Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain (ATTESA) - and what it can do for you. But the GT-R doesn't actually use the most mechanically sophisticated type of AWD systems discussed in the previous article, namely a "true" AWD with a centre differential. Instead, it uses a clutch pack to transfer power.


The R32, R33, and R34 Skyline GT-R's used a system that looked basically identical to the traditiona…