The Ram's Eye - A Driver's Blog: June 2013



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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Got'er fixed - The Boss is all set to go!




Last time I took my car to the track, a 2012 Mustang Boss 302, I had a steering issue occur more than once, where it seemed like power steering cut off temporarily for less than a second at a time (full post: 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 - Back at the track!). I took the car to the dealership, Steele Ford, and they asked me a few questions about the issue when I went to drop it off.

As is the case with any sports cars owners, I was reluctant to say that the problem occurred on the track. There's a long track record (see what I did there?) of dealerships refusing warranty work on a car simply because the tires of it touched the asphalt of a road course, regardless of whether the cause of the problem is abusing the car on a track. Nevertheless, I decided to be honest to better help them diagnose the problem and to put trust in them in the hope of them putting trust back in me.

Well, I was not disappointed. They said they'll look at it and see if they find any codes and go from there. A few hours later, I received a call from the dealership and they said that they found 2 codes and they have to change the steering rack. It will be covered under warranty but they don't have the part so they will call me back when the parts comes in. A few days later, I got a call and scheduled an appointment.

When I bought the TracKey for my car, I was assured by Ford Racing phone reps that warranty work on the engine will never be refused because damage happened on the track. If an issue were to ever occur on the track, diagnosis would be no different compared to an issue occurring on the street on a stock car (and the same stands for Boss 302's without the TracKey calibration). Luckily, I have never had an engine or drivetrain issue on the track so I have never had to test that promise but having the steering issue fixed with no fuss is very reassuring.

Have you or someone you know ever had an issue while tracking a car with warranty left on it? How did the dealership deal with it? Sound off in the comments below!


Sunday, 23 June 2013

K-Car treasure - The ultimate 1987 Dodge Aries race car!




If you've been looking for a car but haven't been able to find the perfect opportunity, look no further! Here's an excellent 1987 Dodge Aries that also happens to have racing pedigree. Yes, this is a Kijiji K-Car race champion! Max Karpinccho piloted this car to victory against Bolt Lundgren and got his pride back. The best part is that you could be the new lucky owner because it is up for sale and for a good cause.




This performance machine isn't a one trick pony, though. Despite the excellent performance and race-tuned suspension, it has a full interior and a premium Alpine sound system so it could be a family car all week and a track warrior on the weekend. Forget the Mercedes Benz 190E Cosworth and the BMW M3 - this is genesis of the sports sedan.




The car will be on sale until July, 8th, 2013 and Kijiji will match the selected buyer's offer (up to $10,000) and donate the total sum to Habitat for Humanity. If you're interested in this gem, head to Kijiji K-Car Race winner is selling his car, a 1987 Dodge Aries! for more information and to make an offer. Kijiji will handle all shipping fees. Check out the trailer below of the Payback Movie featuring Max racing this very car and head to Mac and Bolt's Journey to find out more about the epic K-Car championship.




Source: Kijiji


Just how fast is the new Corvette Stingray?




Chevrolet released official performance numbers for the 2014 Corvette Stingray and they're nothing short of impressive. When equipped with the Z51 Performance Package, Chevrolet estimates that it will be able to get from 0 - 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and cover the 1/4 mile in 12.0 seconds at 119 mph. With braking performance of 60-0 mph in 107 ft and the ability to sustain 1.03 g in cornering, handling is just as impressive.

In the hands of Jim Mero, Corvette vehicle dynamics engineer, the Stingray is capable of lapping Virginia International Raceway's (VIR) 4.2 mile Grand Course in 2:51.78. The lap was done in a Stingray equipped with the Z51 Performance Package and Magnetic Ride Control. The only modifications made to the car were the addition safety features, such as a racing seat and harness along with a fire extinguisher system.




Luckily, VIR is the track that Car and Driver uses for their annual Lightning Lap event so a large database of lap times is available for comparison. Jim Mero is a much more experienced driver with racing experience, though, so the same lap time cannot be expected in the hands of the Car and Driver's staff. To put that into perspective, Jim Mero lapped the track in 2:45.63 when behind the wheel of a Corvette ZR1 with the standard Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires. Car and Driver staff did the same deed in 2:51.8 for a difference of about 6 seconds. The faster and more powerful a car is, though, the bigger the lap time difference (advantage) becomes in the hands of a more experienced driver - i.e. assuming the same 6 second gap for the Stingray is very conservative because wringing out the last few seconds in the 638 hp, supercharged Corvette ZR1 would be a lot more difficult than doing the same in the Corvette Stingray. Nonetheless, assuming the conservative 6 second gap would mean it's at least quicker than cars like the Porsche 911 Carrera S (2:58.9), the Corvette's long time performance rival, and the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG (2:58.0) - an elite group of cars.




A Corvette Stingray equipped with Magnetic Ride Control and the Z51 package costs $56,590, including $995 destination fee. The Z51 package gets you an electronic limited slip differential, dry sump oiling system, upgraded brakes and unique chassis tuning, differential and transmission cooling, and a unique aero package that further improves high speed stability. For more information on pricing or equipment and options, head to 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Pricing. The Corvette Stingray goes on sale in the third quarter of this year, 2013.

Source: Chevrolet


Cadillac CTS finally gets a proper price tag!




GM finally announced pricing for the new, 2014 Cadillac CTS and it was given a proper price tag to match the move upwards Cadillac made with the 2014 model year (full post: 2014 Cadillac CTS). The current and previous CTS models have been stuck between the compact and midsize luxury segments and their sizes and prices reflected that. Now that Cadillac has a proper entry into the compact segment, the ATS, the CTS can comfortably move into the midsize luxury segment.

The third generation CTS sedan grows in size and interior space. It is now five inches longer than the outgoing model and interior space reflects the increased size. Despite the increase in size, the new car is 244 lb. lighter than the previous model and sits lower which should give it handling dynamics to match the excellent ATS. The CTS is expected to be the lightest car in its segment.




The 2013 CTS standard model will start at $46,025, including $925 destination fee, which is an increase of $6,005 over the outgoing model. For that, you get more luxury, interior room, power and features with more than 20 new standard features compared to the outgoing model. A 2.0 litre turbocharged four cylinder engine or 3.6 litre naturally aspirated V6 engine will be available in rear wheel drive or all wheel drive with three collections of option packages - Luxury, Performance and Premium.

The standard engine will be the 2.0 litre turbo engine which puts out 272 hp and helps propel the car from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, which is 1.5 seconds faster than the outgoing base model with the 270 hp, 3.0 naturally aspirated V6 engine. No estimates were given for the 3.6 litre V6 but expect a mid-5 seconds run to 60 mph. Brembo brakes with ferritic-nitro carburizing (FNC), anti-corrosion rotors are standard and Cadillac expects the brakes to give the car best in class braking performance. Finally, following what Cadillac did with the ATS, Magnetic Ride control is now standard on base models with 18-inch wheels, instead of being exclusive to the CTS-V. With class leading brakes and suspension and possibly best in class weight, the new CTS should be excellent to drive.




If you want to make even better use of the chassis, a third engine option is now available for the CTS - Cadillac's new Twin-Turbo 3.6 litre V6 engine which makes an SAE-certified 420 hp (for more information, head to 2014 Cadillac CTS). The engine is comes with the Vsport model which contains the highest-performing components, such as the twin- turbo engine and an electronic limited slip differential. The Vsport model will start at $59,995, including $925 destination fee. It will be the top of the line model and the most powerful, until the CTS-V becomes available, and will come only in rear wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Every CTS will come with adjustable drive settings for touring, ice and snow, or sport driving to adjust vehicles' dynamics. The CTS Vsport model will come with an additional drive mode for the track with specific Magnetic Ride Control calibration and enhanced throttle progression for greater track performance. It's unknown whether driver assists, such as traction and stability control, can be fully defeated for the track though so we'll have to wait for a test drive to find out.




Like all other Cadillacs, the CTS will come with the CUE, Cadillac's infotainment system which is supposed to resemble tablets in interface and functionality. The CUE system features an 8 inch fully reconfigurable touch screen. An additional 5.7 inch display screen is located in the instrument cluster to allow the drive to control radio, phone and navigation functions through steering wheel controls without having to take his eyes off the road. A premium, 11-speaker Bose audio system with HD radio capability will come standard on every CTS.

The 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan arrives in dealerships this fall and should position Cadillac to better compete with German luxury automakers with two separate entries for the compact and midsize luxury segments.

Source: Cadillac


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

2014 Chevrolet SS Pricing Announced - MSRP of $44,470




Chevrolet revealed details about the flagship sedan, the Chevy SS, earlier this year (Details about the new 2014 Chevy SS) but pricing has only been announced a couple of weeks ago. When it goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2013, it will carry an MSRP of $44,470 in the US, including a $995 destination fee. Unfortunately, the SS will not be sold in Canada.




The car will come standard with a long list of features such as:
  • High intensity discharge (HID) headlamps with light emitting diode (LED) daytime running lamps (DRL)
  • Automatic Parking Assist
  • Chevrolet MyLink with a color touch screen and GPS-based navigation system
  • Bose premium audio system - including SiriusXM radio (with 12-month trial)
  • Color head-up display and color driver information centre
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Alloy pedal covers
  • Heating and ventilated front seats with memory
  • Side Blind Zone Alert and Lane Departure Warning
  • Rear-vision camera with rear park assist
  • Keyless access and push-button start

The only options available are a power-operated sunroof ($900) and full-size spare tire ($500). 

The car will come with only 1 engine option - the LS3 6.2 litre small-block V8 which makes 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Chevrolet estimates a 0-60 mph time of about 5 seconds, which is probably conservative. A sub five second 0-60 mph spring should be expected. The engine will be mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, the sole transmission option, with manual shifting available via steering wheel mounted paddles and a 3.27 rear axle ratio.




Chevy doesn't want the car to just go fast in a straight line, though, and payed a lot of attention to the suspension and chassis. The car rides on MacPherson strut front and multi-link independent rear suspension. Power steering has been optimized for sport driving and helping bring the big sedan to a stop are standard Brembo front brakes, with ventilated, 14-inch two-piece rotors and four-piston callipers.

The car will carry a nearly 50/50 weight distribution and a low centre of gravity, thanks in part to an aluminum hood and rear deck lid that are 30% lighter than traditional steel panels (although I doubt an aluminum rear deck lid shifted weight around that much compared to a steel one). Helping put the power to the ground are forged aluminum wheels, wrapped in ultra-high-performance Bridgestone tires: 245/40ZR19 tires on 19" x 8.5" wheels in the front and 275/35ZR19 tires on 19" x 9" wheels at the back.

Available colours are Mystic Green, Silver Ice Metallic, Red Hot 2, Phantom Black Metallic and Heron White (basically, green, silver, red, black and white, nothing crazy). Unfortunately, though, the car will be subject to a gas guzzler tax. 

With a price tag of $44,470, it will be over $5,000 more expensive than a base Ford Taurus SHO, but nearly $2,000 less than a Dodge Charger SRT8. Similarly equipped, though, the Taurus SHO costs only $1,280 less and the Charger SRT8 costs $6,310 more. A Charger SRT8 would probably be ahead of the SS in terms of performance, though, so perhaps a Charger R/T would be a more direct competitor.

For around $50,000, what would you choose, a Ford Taurus SHO, a Chevy SS or a Charger SRT8? Sound off in the comments below!

Source: GM

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 - Back at the track!



























A few weeks ago, I took my car - a 2012 Mustang Boss 302 - to the track for the first time this summer. Head to 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 - Doing what it does best! to find out what modifications I made and how I liked it last summer, stock, and how I like it so far this summer after modifications!

This time, I'm back at the track with the local BMW club - BMW Club Atlantic - for a high performance driving school (HPDS) that I attend annually. The school is arranged twice a year and each time, it runs for an entire weekend. Each day, there are 2 sessions of slaloms and accident avoidance exercises and 2 lapping sessions for a total of 8 sessions on the track. Classroom sessions that go for 15 to 30 minutes run between each track session where vehicle dynamics and track etiquette are discussed. It is a very comprehensive school and between the 1-on-1 instructor time and classroom sessions, there's a lot to be learned for those who are trying to improve. If you're looking to get into racing, it won't be enough because they don't teach the fastest lines or brake points but it is a very good place to start. As one of the senior instructors put it: "We don't teach you how to play hockey. We teach you how to skate." Yes, we are Canadian! Where else could you find a hockey analogy on a race track?

Now back to the car. I have made no additional modifications. The engine is still stock, with the exception of one reliability modification, an oil catch can. I swapped the stock clutch-based limited slip differential with a Ford Racing Torsen unit that has a torque bias ratio of 2.7 - the same one that comes stock on the Boss 302 Laguna Seca. The stock pan hard bar is gone in favour of a Fays2 Watt's link to better control rear axle movement. Rounding off the modifications are lightweight, rotary forged 18" x 9.5" TSW Nurburgring wheels wrapped in 285/35 rubber at all four corners that replace the stock 19" x 9" front wheels and 19" x 9.5" rear wheels (stock tire sizes are 255/40 front and 285/35 rear).

The improved agility is even more noticeable at the BMW club event because it includes some slalom exercises before track sessions. Many find the slalom exercises boring and some even consider it to be a waste of time. I actually like the slalom sessions because, over time, they helped me be more smooth and precise with my right foot and throttle application.

























Throughout the weekend, transitions became smoother and apexes were more seldom missed. That's one of the benefits of continuing to go to a school after getting the basics. I find that progress at a track day is slower than progress at a HPDS. The presence of a second set of eyes - your instructor - accelerates the learning curve, especially considering that they're more experienced than you are and often with racing experience. One thing I have been struggling with, though, is the entry of corner 2. By the end of the front straight between, corner 11 and corner 1, you're either in 3rd or 4th gear, depending on the car. Corner 1 can be taken in 4 or 3, again depending on the car. The only constant is that corner 2 is taken in 2nd gear. I don't remember talking to anyone who takes corner 2 in 1st gear or anything higher than gear 2 (unless it's a cool down lap). I knew I didn't have the smoothest heel-and-toe downshift but I couldn't quite put my finger on the reason why. My instructor could, though.

He noticed that my downshift is done in 2 steps: step 1 is clutch pedal down and throttle blip and step 2 is moving the shifter. He said I should try making it all a 1 step event. I tried that and it helped make the downshift much smoother, helping the car be more settled going into the corner. I don't know if that will work for everyone but it certainly worked for me.

One issue came up on the track, though. A few times, steering weight changed significantly as if power steering stopped working and it felt like the steering wheel was being tugged in the opposite direction. When the issue came up, it lasted for less than a second. At first I thought that stability control may not be full defeat-able, although it should be on the Boss 302. I thought it may be trying to correct my steering angle or heavily applying the brakes on one side but whenever it happened, there was no loss of traction so stability control shouldn't even intervene. Plus, I've had stability control kick in before in different cars and it did not feel that way. I was finally assured that it was a problem when "Service AdvanceTrac" came on. I will get the car checked at the dealership as soon as I'm back.

Aside from that minor hiccup, the car held itself on the track like a champ, as usual. Loads of fun and grin-inducing attitude. Hopefully, the issue will be fixed before the next lapping day on July 1st. Check back for more updates!


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 - Doing what it does best!




It was 6:30 a.m. and I was already up and getting ready to leave. It wasn't for work - I'm usually not awake until 7:30 a.m. on workdays. I also didn't need to grab or prepare lunch. I did grab a couple of items, though, my helmet and my second car key - the track key (TracKey), for the first day at the track this summer. The local track - Atlantic Motorsport Park (AMP) - is about an hour away. I filled up the car and a 10 litre gas tank and headed to the track.

I arrived shortly after 8:00. The last time I was at the track before then was the last weekend of August, 2012, and I have been counting down the weekends since then. Once I arrived at the track, saw the line up of cars and heard a few idling engines, it seemed like it was only last weekend that I had been there last.

Now let's get to the important stuff - the car. I've had the car on the track before. Initial impressions were excellent. I bought my car "used" with 230 miles on the clock, so I had no say in the options and, unfortunately, it didn't come with the Recaro seats and Torsen differential. Nonetheless, the Boss 302 is excellent on the track. It's one of those cars that shrink around you when you push it. It feels eager and willing. The car I had before was a less powerful, lighter car (under 3,000 lb). Once I strapped into the Boss, I felt the extra heft and wondered if suspension wizardry could make up for it and did it ever! Unlike my last car, which was a light car (good) and felt like it on the track and on the road, the Boss feels like a great GT car on the road, especially in the price range, but it's a different story once you take it to the track.




When I took it to the track last summer for the first time, I started slow. The first few laps, I decided to take my time to learn the car and get comfortable with it.. but the car kept asking for more at every corner, turning in and pulling out of corners with ease. The more I pushed, the lighter it felt. Lap after lap, I started getting quicker and more impressed with the car. Understeer is practically non-existent. Turn in is impressive and unless you are trying to come into a corner too fast, you won't miss an apex by going wide. When you do go wide, it's simply the momentum of the car carrying it through the corner, not the front tires losing traction and dreadfully screeching for mercy. The back end can come out but it's very easy to catch. The excellent Alcantara wrapped steering wheel gives you plenty of information about what the tires are doing, especially for a car with electric power steering. It's neutral and well balanced. It has little body movement and plenty of grip and power plus good manners at the limit. What more could you ask for?




Plenty, as it turns out. As is the case with any automotive enthusiast who likes to modify, reasons that, to you, are logical and justifiable will always pop up in your head as to why you should modify. When I bought the car, I told my wife "Honey, this is more expensive than our previous car but I won't spend any money on modifications like I did with the other car. This is set up perfectly." I was wrong. I meant it at the time, but I should have known better. This wasn't my only mistake, though. Unfortunately, I did what I always advise people not to do - I made more than one modification at a time.

Firstly, the differential. I figured I would make it as good as it could have been straight from Ford before I change anything else. The standard Traction-Lok limited slip differential (LSD) is a great unit and it comes with carbon fibre clutch plates for added durability but the performance of the Torsen is on a different level. The same stands for the seats. The standard seats have great support and comfort but they are no Recaros (I don't know how good the Recaros are on long trips, though). I haven't got to upgrading the seats because they cost nearly $3,000 new and I am willing to buy used but I haven't been able to find a good used set. I did upgrade the differential, though, and decided on the OEM Torsen - the same unit that comes standard on the Boss 302 Laguna Seca and is optional on the Boss 302. It has a torque bias ratio (TBR) of 2.7 which puts it mid-way of gear-based limited slip differentials. I picked it because:

1- I was assured by Ford Racing and Torsen that the unit was developed with the Boss in mind and durability was a huge factor (you actually can't order that unit from Torsen, only Ford Racing or Ford Racing vendors)

2- Too high a TBR, and the car would start to push/understeer and I don't want that, especially for a short, technical track like AMP. Too low a TBR would make a small difference over the standard differential. 2.7 seemed just right.




Next on the list came a Watt's link. I went with the Fays2 Watt's link because, at $650 (from Strano Parts), it was several hundred dollars less expensive than alternatives, quality was top notch and it had the widest range of rear roll centre adjustability (7-positions). I also heard great things about support from Strano with parts installation and adjustment so I figured I couldn't go wrong. Unfortunately, I did have some installation hiccups along the way but they were quick to respond and get the issue resolved.

I installed it with a lower rear roll centre position (3rd from the bottom). The closer the rear centre is to the car's centre of gravity (in this case, higher upwards), the less roll the car will have. With no change to the front roll stiffness, less rear end roll means better turn in - the same effect as going with a stiffer anti-roll bar. While that's great (and it is something that I want), I'm not a professional race car driver so I wanted to make sure the car won't be too tail happy before I move the roll centre further up. After a few trials, I ended up 2 positions higher, 3rd from the top.

Last but certainly not least came wheels and tires. They actually came first in terms of order of installation. Some of you may remember my first post (An unfortunate first post.. or is it?) where I was (happily) forced to upgrade wheels and tires earlier than I had planned. The car comes stock with 19" x 9" wheels in the front and 19" x 9.5" wheels in the back wrapped in Pirelli PZero tires - 255/40/19 in the front and 285/35/19 in the back. The wheels weigh about 32/33 lb. each. I bought 18" x 9.5" TSW Nurburgring wheels in gunmetal grey shod in 285/35/18 tires all around.

I wanted to go with lighter wheels all around and wider in the front for a little more rubber to improve (the already excellent) turn in. The new wheels weigh about 22 lb. each so they save about 10/11 lb. per corner. Additionally, the drop in wheel diameter from 19" to 18" means two things; a whole car and centre of gravity drop of 1/2" and the effect of gearing up the rear end by 3.9%. I.e. the drop in wheel size, from the drivetrain's perspective, is equivalent to going from the stock 3.73 gears to 3.87 gears. There are no gears that I know of that are available in this ratio but if there were, they would have the same effect. Now, I was told by many that there's no way I could feel the difference from the drop in weight or diameter but I actually noticed some improvement. But then again, it could all be in my head!




Track impressions this year after the modifications were even better. The Torsen provided a huge traction advantage coming out of corners. I was able to come back on the power a lot sooner and roll into the throttle more quickly than last year. It was appreciated the most at the corner exit of corner 2. As you can probably figure out from the track map, corner 2 is the slowest corner on the track. If you're in a hurry coming out of it (as you should be) in a car with any appreciable amount of power, you get nothing but spinning if you can't modulate the throttle. In a car like the Boss with the standard LSD, you can use very little throttle, which can be frustrating after a few laps. With the Torsen, speed starts to build up a lot more quickly while exiting a corner. You still can't go full throttle past the apex at every corner, but it is a whole lot better.

And thanks to the Watt's link, it takes more to upset the rear axle now. The track is on the bumpy side so it makes an even better case for itself on this track. Although you can notice and appreciate the Watt's link on the road, it's a whole other level on the track, especially on the back "straight" (between turns 6 and 7) were bumps were very unsettling at higher speeds. Between the lighter wheels and decreasing rear end roll, the car feels much lighter on its feet, even more willing and eager to slow down or change direction. I can carry more speed going in and around corners, which is even more impressive when considering what tires I ended up buying.

The tires I bought - Continental ExtremeContact DW's - are actually supposed to be slightly less sticky than the stock Pirelli PZero's. Since I daily drive my car as long as the weather allows (about 8 months out of the year), I went with the Continentals because they have much better tread rating and they are better in the wet (it rains often here) and in cooler temperatures. The Michelin Pilot Super Sports give up a little tread life and comfort to the Continentals but they are still a lot better than the Pirelli's and are supposed be best in class in terms of performance. They are a lot more expensive than the Continentals, though, so I couldn't afford to buy them at the time since I was buying wheels along with them. When it's time to replace the Continentals, I will be trying the Michelins.

Despite the slight drop in ultimate tire grip, the car had better turn in and braking, higher corner speed and more rear traction, all point to the improvements that the modifications made. Overall, I couldn't be happier with the outcome and I'm looking forward to the next weekend at the track, which will be with the local BMW club - BMW Club Atlantic. Make sure to check back for updates!

Note: The pictures were taken last year at the track so they show the stock wheels and tires. I apologize that they're low res - the gentleman who takes pictures at the track posts low res versions on his website for free and I couldn't buy the high res pictures because I had spent all my money on the car!


Saturday, 8 June 2013

Toyota Avalon TRD - A Closer Look




One of the most puzzling cars at last year's SEMA show was a boosted Toyota Avalon. Yes, boosted as in relying on more than mother nature to stuff an engine cylinder full of air. The car was sporting a TRD supercharger with an Eaton Gen 6 TVS rotor assembly along with a slew of suspension and appearance modifications. Toyota apparently decided to leave it with the guys at Motor Trend to put through the tests. A couple of days ago, Motor Trend posted their tests and the numbers were.. interesting.




Handling improvements are nothing short of impressive. 6-piston front brake callipers and 4-piston rear ones along with larger, cross drilled rotors help bring the car to a stop from 60 mph in 106 ft, which is sports car territory. Motor Trend was able to record an average lateral acceleration of 0.92 g. To put that into perspective, that puts it right in between two trims of an excellent RWD sedan, the Cadillac ATS. When tested by Motor Trend, the 2.0 litre turbo model was able to pull 0.90 g and and the 3.6 litre V6 model was able to pull 0.94 g. Although, besides the reduction in body movement and roll, driving feel probably hasn't improved much. The improvements were done in an aftermarket fashion though, with stiffer shocks, springs and bushings, not modifying suspension geometry or chassis rigidity so the ride is stiffer and jarring over bumps but that's expected from a SEMA show car.




The same can't be said for the engine department. Although the engine gets a supercharger, power is up by only 52 hp. While 52 hp is a healthy amount of power, the addition of a form of forced induction usually brings a lot more hp to the table, along with a healthy improvement in straight line performance. The Avalon TRD is not quicker than the production Avalon though. It's not even as fast.. it is actually slower. With a 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds and a 1/4 mile time of 15.0 seconds, which are 0.3 and 0.4 seconds SLOWER than the production version that does the deeds in 6.3 and 14.6 seconds respectively. Toyota says more work is needed to tune the engine and recalibrate the software and the car is also over 200 lb. heavier because of the additional show kit like stereo and rims.

The weight excuse is frankly just that, an excuse. There are several full size cars that weigh over 4,000 lb., over 300 lb. heavier than this Avalon TRD, which weighs 3,755 lb., and when equipped with naturally aspirated V6 engines with similar displacements and less hp, run the same or better acceleration times. I think Toyota simply didn't do their homework on the engine and just bolted a few bits and pieces along with a supercharger on the engine to make a show car. I checked SEMA's website for information about the car (Toyota Avalon TRD) and it lists detailed information about all modifications so I am assuming no parts are missing. Under "Engine", only the supercharger is listed which means that no changes to fuelling system, internals or other engine components that may benefit from an upgrade to take advantage of forced induction. Even worse, there may be no intercooler.

This seems like it was put-together over a few days. It doesn't seem like one of these cars where a company tells its engineers to go wild with their ideas or showcase their best performance work. It seems like no engineering went into it at all - just a bill for a few good aftermarket parts and a few hours on a hoist. I am very surprised that Toyota decided to drop this car off to be tested and confused as to why Toyota would do that.

Source: Motor Trend, SEMA

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Will the C7 Corvette Stingray gain market share?




The C6 Corvette has a great chassis and suspension setup along with a stout drivetrain to boot. However, the interior has been holding back the Corvette name from being world class on every level and it was viewed as the bargain competitor. With the upgraded interior and luxury, upscale materials and features, the Corvette is no longer a compromise of luxury in favour of performance and sales are bound to reflect that.




The Corvette already sells well, outselling luxury sports cars like the Porsche 911, Cayman and Boxter, Audi TT, BMW Z4 and Mercedes Benz SLK as well as mainstream sports cars like the Nissan 370Z, Mazda MX-5 (Miata), and Subaru BRZ (although the Scion FR-S outsells the Corvette). However, GM would like to see the Corvette do more than that. According to an Autoweek report, GM plans to extend its marketing efforts to attract customers of high end sports cars, like Porsche and other European luxury brands. GM is not planning on alienating the current and loyal Corvette fans and customers, though, a fact which is reflected in maintaining the drivetrain layout and keeping the starting price low for the class, allowing the Corvette to continue to be the people's supercar.

The starting price of the Corvette Stingray increases by $1,400 compared to the outgoing, C6 Corvette. You do get a lot more features and a much more upscale interior for that bump though (full post: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Pricing). Chevrolet announced that there will also be another Corvette model with a lower starting price but it won't share the Stingray moniker and will be available as a coupe (full post: Can't afford a Stingray? Get a Corvette Coupe!).

With the upgraded interior and performance plus a starting price which is still very competitive, sales are bound to go up. However, there is the possibility of it gaining market share from upmarket brands. Do you think the upgraded interior is enough to gain market share from these brands? Sound off in the comments below!


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

2014 Corvette Stingray makes 460 hp!




When GM revealed the 2014 Corvette Stingray, 450 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque were the estimates for engine output (full post: The Stingray is back! Details about the new 2014 C7 Corvette). It is GM tradition, though, to reveal hp numbers that are slightly lower than actual ratings and the C7 Corvette is no different. When equipped with the optional performance exhaust, it makes 460 hp (343 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 465 lb-ft (630 Nm) of torque at 4,600 rpm, as shown above on the SAE engine dyno graph. With the standard exhaust, the numbers drop by 5 hp and 5 lb-ft of torque to 455 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.

The closest competitor to the Corvette in terms of performance is the Porsche 911 Carrera and these numbers put it well ahead of the pack. The Porsche 911 Carrera makes 350 hp and 287 lb-ft of torque and the Carrera S makes 400 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, 110 hp and 60 hp lower the Corvette's numbers and even much lower torque. It doesn't just make higher gross numbers, though - with a 3,298 curb weight, the Corvette has a weight-to-power ratio of 7.17 lb./hp (power-to-weight ratio of 308 hp/ton) vs 8.68 lb./hp (254 hp/ton) for the Carrera and 7.69 lb./hp (287 hp/ton) for the Carrera S so although the Corvette weighs more, it carries less weight per hp.

Looking at peak output numbers doesn't tell the complete story about an engine though. The engine should pull strong throughout the rpm range, with 316 lb-ft of torque available at a mere 1,000 rpm and 90% of peak torque (419 lb-ft) available from 3,000 rpm to 5,500 rpm. In other words, it makes more torque at any point in the rpm range than the 911 Carrera makes at peak. The Corvette is expected to run from 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds. GM didn't design this engine around just power numbers and it continues to impress in other areas.




The engine utilizes multiple technologies, such as direct injection, Active Fuel Management, and continuously variable transmission, which optimize combustion and improve efficiency. Direct injection ensures a more complete burn of the fuel in the air-fuel mixture. That's achieved by precisely controlling the mixture motion and fuel injection spray pattern. Direct injection also keeps the combustion chamber cooler which allows for a higher compression ratio. A new cylinder head design and a new, sculpted piston design that is an integral contributor to the high-compression, mixture motion parameters enabled by direct injection.

Active Fuel Management (AFM) is a cylinder deactivation technology which saves fuel by seamlessly shutting down half of the engine's cylinders in light-load driving conditions, such as cruising on the highway. Continuously variable valve timing is refined to support the LT1 AFM and direct injection systems to further optimize performance, efficiency and emissions, which are reduced, particularly cold-start hydrocarbon emissions, by about 25%.

Additional engine features include:
  • Advanced oiling system with oil-spray piston cooling and available dry-sump oiling
  • Engine-mounted, camshaft-driven fuel pump to support the direct injection system
  • Intake manifold with "runners in a box" design that allows for high-efficiency airflow packaged beneath the Corvette's low hood line
  • high-flow, four-into-one exhaust manifolds based on the design of the LS7, 7.0-litre engine.

The Corvette Stingray coupe goes on sale this fall, with a convertible following by the end of the year. So far, every GM press release has been very promising so I highly doubt test drives will be disappointing.

Source: GM