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2016 Focus RS vs 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350R - Track Video

While testing a 2016 Focus RS for the comparison test (link: Ford Focus RS vs Subaru WRX STI vs Mitsubishi Evo X MR), I caught up to a 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350R and had a friendly head-to-head battle. Both cars were completely stock. The video doesn't capture just how good that car sounds. We had a chat afterwords and the owner was very cool about it. His rear tires were starting to look old and he told me it felt a little less grippy than he was used to, so they could have been heat cycled out. Our track is also short and technical, so high hp cars don't get much room to stretch their legs, robbing them of some of the advantage they'd have at a power and/or longer track. The Focus had the optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Check out the video below for a couple of laps.





Ford Focus RS vs Subaru WRX STI vs Mitsubishi Evo X MR

All these cars have one common Achilles' heel. The engines sit entirely ahead of the front axles; a great family recipe for understeer. Then tell the front tires - already taxed from trying to keep that front engine sitting outside the wheelbase from going straight - to put some power down and you can only make matters worse. There are ways to mitigate the understeer with suspension tuning, of course, but the toughest part is power-on understeer. I don't want to get much into tires, but the thing to remember is that because tires have a certain "grip budget" - how much total grip they can hold/generate before they let go - when you get on the power in a car that sends power to the front wheels (FWD or AWD), you will rob some of the precious grip you were relying on to turn the car in order to put all or some power down. You'll run out of front lateral grip sooner than you would have otherwise, as a result. Worse yet, because of the unideal engine pla…

2017 Camaro ZL1 Beats Previous Generation’s Nürburgring Lap Time

The new 2017 +Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, expected in showrooms by the end of this year, just beat the benchmark set by the last generation ZL1. With a lap time of 7:29.60, it is 11.67 faster faster than the last generation and even beat the last generation Z/28's time of 7:37.9 - which was done on Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, far grippier than the Eagle F1 Supercar used on the ZL1. The car used is unchanged from the one you'll be able to buy, aside from the installation of data acquisition equipment, a roll hoop, and Sparco racing seats with six-point harnesses. Otherwise, the car was production stock and included the following:

6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V-8 making 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torqueAll-new 10R90 10-speed automatic transmission (set to Track mode to enable Performance Algorithm Shift calibration, providing optimal gear selection without the need to manually select gears)FE4 Suspension with Magnetic Ride ControlPerformance Traction ManagementForged 20-in…

Limited Slip Differentials - The Basics

I'm finishing up a comparison post (link to introduction:Intro: Focus RS vs Golf R vs WRX STI vs Evo X) and, throughout the post, I realized that I have to go off topic a lot to talk about how each type of differential changes the way the car drives. As a result, I thought I'd write a separate post to go into more detail before I post the comparison to keep it more focused on the cars and avoid veering off topic too much.

By saying "Limited Slip Differentials" in the title, I am including torque vectoring diffs because, although current conventional terminology treats them differently, a torque vectoring differential is, in essence, a very sophisticated limited slip diff (LSD) that can be manipulated to actively help the car handle better. And while none of the cars in the comparison use open (without help from the brakes) or non-gear mechanical LSD’s, I’ll briefly discuss them so that the post is more inclusive. I’ll only focus on using power to help the handlin…

Chevrolet 1LE & Grand Sport - How do they do it? Part 1

Recently, Chevrolets seem to have been punching far above their weights and a lot of people (myself included) are impressed. Sure, Corvettes have always been formidable track cars, but they're low, light, purpose-built, and didn't blow expectations - just provided excellent value. Now, all +Chevrolet  track cars, especially Camaros, seem to be overreaching and, combined with excellent chassis tuning, have been doing wonders for GM's chassis engineers' image. I decided to take the time and do some research to try and figure out what GM is doing that others aren't (or can't). Before I start, I'd like to point out that this is based only on my own understanding and research, not an interview or publication by GM, so take that for what it's worth.

Since I haven't posted about the latest of Chevy's track-focused models/trim packages, I thought I'd first take this opportunity and talk about what you get. Whether you're looking at a Camaro V6…

Car and Driver Lightning Lap 2016 - A Closer Look

Where did the time go? I unfortunately missed last year's feature. I did intend to post about it this year but haven't had the chance and it's already time for this year's feature. I thought I'd get this one done first and then go back to last year's (hopefully). The full article for this year's LL is here: Car and Driver - Lightning Lap 2016. As always, my car picks aren't necessarily very quick or slow. They simply did much better or much worse than I excepted them to. 
The Highs


BMW M2 - 3:01.9: Last year, a BMW M4 did 3:00.7. 1.2 seconds is all that separate the iconic M4 (an M3 coupe, really.. doesn't that sound better?) from this M2. And that one had the dual clutch transmission and carbon ceramic brakes. Opt for the manual, and you could very well be neck and neck. But you save *ahem* about $30,000 in the process, a little more if you're in Canada. That's what you need to get an M4 with the competition package, dual clutch auto, and car…






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…