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2016 Ford Focus RS vs. 2015 Subaru WRX STI vs 2016 VW Golf R - A Closer Look

This picture is a little misleading. Unfortunately, this isn't a post about a race on a frozen lake or a snow covered rally stage involving the three hottest AWD hot hatches (the WRX STI only a hatch in spirit). This is about the highly anticipated test recently posted by Car & Driver.

First things first, I wish C&D would stop testing 30-50 mph and 50-70 mph in top gear for manual performance cars. They are hugely (almost exclusively) influenced by gearing and are completely irrelevant. I could see them being relevant in a more mainstream class (say, comparing a base Focus manual to a base Cruze manual) because an average buyer may not want to shift. But there is no way the buyer of any of these cars is going to wait over 7 seconds to go from 30-50 or approximately 6 seconds to go from 50-70? Worse yet, why would anyone floor a small 4 cyl turbo in an overdrive gear and lug the engine outside of boost? Now with the rant out of the way, let’s look at numbers.


2016 +Ford For…

2016 BMW 328i xDrive Automatic at M3 price?

Car and Driver recently tested a 2016 BMW 328i xDrive. It has good performance numbers (posted here earlier in the ATS4 2.0T post). It seems like a good little car.. until you get to the price. I'm more dumbfounded by the proximity of price to the +BMW M3 than I am by the price alone. $59k?? One doesn't have to go far to find a much better deal. An +Audi S4 starts almost $10k under it. I just can't wrap my head around choosing this over an S4. This isn't expensive compared to a mainstream car with comparable performance/options. Both this and the S4 are German, both are AWD, and both are well established luxury brands. I personally put a lot of weight on a RWD-based chassis but this automatic 328i xDrive isn’t exactly a purist’s choice and at 3,700 lbs, it isn’t a featherweight. I would imagine discounts on it would be huge to lure someone away from an S4. That, or you have to be an absolute die-hard BMW fan to buy one.  


2016 Cadillac ATS Sedan 2.0T AWD - A Closer Look

The biggest news I found in this test is a huge improvement in power output. Looking back at one of the very early tests of the +Cadillac  ATS with this engine done by Car & Driver was a comparison test back in 2012, the ATS 2.0T was noticeably lacking in power compared to the 328i. Although the older tested cars were very different (i.e. lighter, manual equipped RWD versions) than this Cadillac, Car & Driver recently also tested a 2016 BMW 328i xDrive so we can have an apples-to-apples comparison of this AWD, 4-cyl turbo ATS and an AWD, 4-cyl turbo 328i. In the early test, the numbers were:


2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T2012 BMW 328i0-30 mph2.0 s2.0 s0-60 mph6.3 s5.6 s0-100 mph16.7 s14.5 s0-130 mph34.7 s26.4 s1/4 mile14.8 s @ 94 mph14.3 s @ 99 mph5-60 mph (street start)7.4 s6.6 s

At the time, the car made 272 hp @ 5,500 rpm and 260 lb-ft @ 1,700. Meanwhile, the 328i is rated at 240 hp @ 5,000 and 255 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm. The BMW is largely unchanged with hp rating staying the same as w…

Ideal seating position, courtesy of Porsche

Great short video on ideal seating position, courtesy of +Porsche . One of the first things I had to learn when I started high performance driving was adjusting the seating position to allow better control. It took some adjusting at first but after getting used to, I could never go back.




2016 BMW 640i Convertible Test - A Closer Look

"It pounces on corners, tracks flat through the apexes, and devours the straights with a burly snarl from the V-8. It laps up freeway kilometers at triple-digit speeds, the suspension digesting ripples and dips so thoroughly that the body remains almost inert. All the driver has to do is aim the 645 and it goes there. Fast."
Sounds great, right? Absolutely, except for the fact that it isn't about this 640i. Keen BMW fans would probably be fast to note that this 640i doesn't even come with a V8. The above is from a review of a 645Ci that was published back in January 2004, 12 years ago. This new review, though, was.. let's be kind and say less flattering.




As seems to be a pattern now for all BMW's, except the 2-series and M models, there's lots of disappointment. "Our car, equipped with BMW’s M Sport package, offered what seemed to be a slathering of faux sportiness." It only managed 0.86 g on Car and Driver's 300-ft dia. skidpad, which was …

Sabine Schmitz in a Porsche 911 GT3 R at the Nurburgring

If you're one of those people who complain about not enough action and passing in racing (I don't blame you), the video below may just restore your faith. Sabine Schmitz, famous Nurburgring taxi driver, race car driver, and now one of the new presenters of Top Gear UK (we forgive her for that), is piloting a GT3 R in the video below at the Nurburgring, in the wet. And it's awesome.





911 GT3 vs Nissan GT-R Track.. in the WET

Ever wonder how a 911 GT3 might stack up against a GT-R Track Edition.. in the wet?  The GT-R comes with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 DSST CTT tires and the GT3 comes with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2. The Dunlops are classified as Extreme Performance Summer tires on Tire Rack while the Michelins are Streetable Track & Competition so the GT-R should have the tire advantage in the wet. The GT-R obviously has the traction advantage due to being AWD but remember, no 2WD car has more traction than a 911, assuming comparable tires, due to the engine placement so don't place your bets just yet. Watch and find out who wins, but don't forget to comment below!



Ford GT Returns at Rolex 24 with Chip Ganassi Racing

A photo posted by Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (@chipganassiracing) on Jan 28, 2016 at 6:17am PST

I, unfortunately, haven't been writing in a while.. Okay, a very long while. I had been waiting until I can catch up with all the reviews and tests that I missed. The new ATS-V and CTS-V. The new Camaro SS. The new C63 AMG. The long awaited Shelby GT350.. and many more. I started watching Rolex 24 hours at Daytona today, though, and I thought what better weekend to go back to writing than the weekend Ford brought back the GT to go racing.


A photo posted by Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (@chipganassiracing) on Jan 31, 2016 at 3:37am PST

I haven't seen all of it yet, I've only watched the two hours so far but it was a great showing. *SPOILER ALERT* So far, the GT seems to be running great and very, very competitive. And man, does the new GT ever look fantastic, especially in racing livery. They've only had one issue where one of the cars was stuck in 5th gear. *SPOILER ALERT*

It typ…

6th Generation 2016 Chevy Camaro

This surprises a lot of people, considering that I have a Mustang and a Boss 302 at that, but I'm a Camaro fan. For one, I've always been a Chevy small block fan. They're compact and light (for the displacement), powerful, efficient and reliable. Secondly, without Camaro rivalry, I don't think the Mustang would be as good. Finally, I'm a domestic kind of guy so I like seeing good products from all domestics. As a result, I was looking forward to the highly anticipated 6th generation Camaro and I must say, it doesn't look like it will disappoint.

The first and most important piece of information is that the Camaro is all new. It shares nothing with the previous generation. People will no longer be able to say this is an old bloated chassis or it's just a rebadged Holden. This one is based on the Alpha chassis Cadillac developed for the Cadillac ATS. It's lightweight, compact and strong where as the previous Zeta chassis was intended for a full size seda…

JLT Oil Catch Can Review

I've had a catch can for about a couple of years. If you've been following my blog, you may know that I've had a seldom problem with power steering randomly cutting off. I thought I had it fixed several times but it kept returning. Finally, towards the end of last summer, the problem was found by a tech at one of the local dealers. After a lot of time behind the wheel on and off the track, I can confidently say the problem is gone. I hate to admit but it was my fault. The catch can that I bought was a bigger unit that came with a mounting bracket. Without checking the wiring, I mounted it where the electric power steering rack ground was. Sometimes, while turning, the can would shift so slightly but enough to move the ground cable, cut power and therefore power steering. It was terrifying, especially on the track, and really hurt with being confident behind the wheel.

After the tech found it, he put a second nut on that bolt to hold it better and it worked so much better …






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.…

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…

Michelin PSS vs Firestone Indy 500 - Track Review

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first impressions of Michelin's PSS vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires. I've run PSS's for several years on the Boss, but I'm trying the Indy 500's for the first time. In short, I was worried about the narrower tires (I was running 285/35/18 PSS but could only find the Indy 500 in 275/35/18) and tread squirm, but I was happy with them up to that point just driving on the street. I had the chance to drive on them for three track days now. So what were they like? After my first session, they made an impression that basically persisted for the rest of track sessions on them. Phenomenal, unmatched value. Now, if value is something that stands out above all else, it typically means the compromise between qualities you want and those you don't is less than ideal, but the value is attractive. This is no different. I'll start with the bad, which really boil down to two: ultimate grip and grip longevity.

Grip is noticeably lowe…