The Ram's Eye - A Driver's Blog: July 2015



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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

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 sedan and heavy. This has been known for a while though, what's new is just how little this car will share with the current Camaro and the answer is just two parts: the rear bowtie and the SS badge. That's it. Chevy was serious when it said an all new Camaro.




Performance

As with the new Mustang, Chevy added a turbocharged engine to the Camaro lineup. Unlike Ford, though, Chevy made the engine the base, entry level engine which I think is great. Firstly, it would be the cheapest model so it should prove more popular in the tuner market. Secondly, naturally aspirated engines are becoming rarer and rarer in favour of turbocharging so it's always nice to see another one improving and living to see a new model. As a result, the lineup (for now) has three engine options:

  • 2.0 litre 4 cyl turbo making 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque
  • 3.6 litre V6 making 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque
  • 6.2 litre LT1 Small Block V8 making 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque
In true GM fashion, all numbers are SAE certified. The 2.0 turbo provides a wide torque band, with 90 percent of peak torque available from 2,100 rpm to 4,500 rpm and peak torque from as low as 3,000 and all the way to 4,500 rpm. The 3.6 litre V6 is new and still features direct injection and continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) but now brings cylinder deactivation that disables two cylinders under light load. Helping the newfound hp in the V6 and V8 engines will be a drop of weight of at least 200 lbs. Savings will be higher, depending on the model, so lightly optioned cars will probably come in the 3,500's lbs. range and the SS will be in the 3,600's lbs. Maybe an option free turbo model could be in the 3,400 range? One can hope! GM estimates 0-60 mph time in "well under 6 seconds" so the weakest engine will still be quick.

As for the V8, about 20% of the components will be unique to the Camaro SS, including new, tubular “tri-Y”-type exhaust manifolds. It will also feature the same technologies first introduced on the Corvette Stingray such as variable valve timing, direct injection and Active Fuel Management (on automatic-equipped models) to help fuel economy. 

All engines will be offered with either an 8-speed auto and or a 6-speed manual. An all new Hydra-Matic 8L45 paddle-shift 8-speed automatic transmission will be offered with the 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder engines. The transmission is based on the Hydra-Matic 8L90 8-speed, but scaled for the performance envelope of the smaller engines. The LT1 engine will be paired with the Hydra-Matic 8L90 8 speed auto with paddle shifts if you want an automatic or a 6-speed manual with Active Rev Match to "blip" the throttle for downshifts.

As is now the norm, all engines will feature sound enhancers. The 2.0L turbo models will feature engine noise enhancement if equipped with the available Bose audio system. It will amplify actual (presumably prerecorded) sounds of the 2.0L turbo engine but can be disabled based on the driver’s preference.




The 3.6L V-6 and 6.2L V-8, on the other hand, will feature mechanical sound enhancers instead of electronic. Resonators that direct induction noise from the engine bay into the cabin will be used as well as dual-mode exhausts, which feature electronically controlled valves that bypass the mufflers under acceleration, delivering improved performance and greater sound levels. The bypass valves will have different modes that are adjustable that can be changed from a “stealth” quiet mode to the most aggressive “track” mode.

Suspension

For the first time, Magnetic Ride Control will be available on the Camaro SS instead of being reserved for the ZL1. I think this will be great value as I suspect you'll be able to get a Camaro SS with all the performance options and magnetic shocks for under $40,000 USD. Chevy says the new Camaro SS will be quicker than the outgoing SS 1LE which would be put it in very good company.

When designing the suspension, Chevy didn't rely too much on Cadillac's work. Instead, they made changes to suit the Camaro's purpose with approximately 70% of the architectural components being unique to Camaro. Chevy says structural rigidity was increased by 28 percent, while the body-in-white mass was reduced by 133 lbs, presumably compared to the last Camaro not the Cadillac ATS.

An aluminum instrument panel frame was used instead of steel to drop 9.2 lbs. More weight savings were achieved using lightweight components, including aluminum front suspension links and optimized steel rear suspension links in the new five-link rear suspension system which took out another 26 lbs.

Up front, a new multi-link MacPherson strut front suspension with Camaro-specific geometry and double-pivot design provide a more precise feeling of control. The electric power steering system will provide more linear and communicative feel. At the rear, a new five-link independent suspension provides better wheel control during articulation and reduces “squat” during acceleration.

For the first time, Brembo brakes will be available on all models. On the LT models, the Brembo brakes option will bring 12.6 in. front rotors with four piston callipers and 12.4 in. rear rotors with single piston callipers. The SS models will come standard with Brembo brakes which means 13.6 in. front rotors with four piston callipers and 13.3 in rear rotors with four-piston callipers.




Aerodynamics

To round up the upgrades, Chevy spent more than 350 hours testing the Camaro in the wind tunnel to improve cooling and reduce aero lift and drag. I have no idea if 350 hours is a lot for a wind tunnel testing but it must be if Chevy is bragging about it! The front fascia is designed to guide the air around the wheels rather than into the wheelhouses which should reduce drag. The Camaro SS will also get a unique front fascia with integrated brake cooling ducts and a unique hood with functional air vents which improve cooling and reduce front end lift. The roof is sculpted to improve the structural rigidity for greater refinement, according to Chevy. It is also assembled using a process called laser brazing which eliminates traditional spot welding saving a little over 2 lbs and eliminating unsightly "ditch channel" seams and cover trim. The entire car shrinks slightly in every direction, which should help aerodynamics by reducing frontal area:

2016 Camaro
2015 Camaro
Length (in /mm):
188.3/ 4784
190.6 / 4841
Width (in / mm):
74.7 / 1897
75.5 / 1917
Height (in / mm):
53.1 / 1348
54.2 / 1376
Wheelbase (in / mm):
110.7/ 2811
112.3 / 2852
Front track (in/mm):
63 / 1601 (SS)
63.6 / 1616 (SS)
Rear track (in/mm):
62.9 / 1598 (SS)
63.9 / 1622 (SS)




More Corvette Tech

Once again, the Camaro will get Corvette hand-me-downs in the form of an all-new Drive Mode Selector, which tailors up to eight vehicle attributes for four modes: Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport and – on SS models – Track settings. I assume that the system is based on the Corvette's excellent Performance Traction Management (PTM), although it may be less sophisticated to preserve the status of the Corvette at the top of the foodchain. The different modes will adjust many settings as follows:
DRIVER MODE SELECTOR SETTINGS
Snow/Ice
Tour
Sport
Track 
(SS only)
Electronic throttle progression
SNOW/ICE
NORMAL
NORMAL
TRACK
Automatic trans.shift map
NORMAL
NORMAL
SPORT
TRACK
Automatic trans. Performance Algorithm Shift
N/A
N/A
AVAIL.
AVAIL.
Engine sound management (if equipped with dual-mode exhaust)
STEALTH
TOUR
SPORT
TRACK
Electric power steering calibration
TOUR
TOUR
SPORT
TRACK
StabiliTrak – Competitive Driving and Launch Control
N/A
N/A
AVAIL.
AVAIL.
Magnetic Ride Control calibration (if equipped)
TOUR
TOUR
SPORT
TRACK
Ambient lighting (if equipped)
ICE BLUE
BLUE
RED
ORANGE

I think this Camaro will prove a very tough competitor for the Mustang. I'm a sucker for big displacement, naturally aspirated, high revving V8's so I don't think Chevy will have something that would steal the GT350's thunder for me. However, I think the Camaro has a better looking front end and a much better base, V6 and entry V8 models. I do believe that they will be more different than ever, with the Mustang feeling more comfortable and mature and the Camaro more agile and fun to drive. I hope I get a chance to drive one once it goes on sale! For more information on technology and interior, visit GM's press release: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro

Sunday, 5 July 2015

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 that power steering never cut off again, but I found that it still shifted enough to cause a slight change in voltage and stability control activated unnecessarily. I tried to find another spot to mount the can but it was hard to find a spot that fits due to its large size so I decided that it was time to get a new, smaller can that does not need to be supported and the JLT unit (JLT Oil Separator) seemed like a great fit. It's small, light and had good reviews. It has OEM connections so I figured it should have a very clean and easy installation.

Actually, saying "easy installation" might be a big understatement. I installed it in less than five minutes and if I didn't have another aftermarket unit, it would take less than one minute. You unclip the stock connections, pull the tube out, and clip the OEM connectors on the JLT can. That's it. I have no idea why other manufacturers don't use the same connectors. They're easier to use and cleaner looking. With the installation out of the way, the other concern is effectiveness.

I've had it for only two track events. The first event was a High Performance Driving School (HPDS) arranged by the local BMW Club. It's a two day, all weekend event. I was there for two slalom exercise sessions and six lapping session, all about 20 mins long. After the event, I drained the catch can and took a couple of pictures.






I unfortunately didn't do any testing with my previous catch can so I can't compare. I also don't have any fine measuring tools I used the smallest measuring cup I found to measure. As you can see in the above picture, it looked like about 3 ml of oil was caught, maybe 5 ml at best. I was disappointed at first as I was expecting it to catch more based on other people's results I found online. I decided to hold my judgement, though, until another track outing. The second time was a regular lapping day, where I was out for three track sessions, each about 20 minutes long. 




As you can see in the picture below, it looks like about 10 ml of oil was caught this time. Remember, this time I was out for one day, not two, half the track sessions and no exercise sessions. That's less than half the length of time and less than half the driven miles, yet there was more than 3 times the amount of oil. After seeing that, I was very happy with the results. I felt that the unit works well as I can't imagine there being much more than 10 ml of oil going back after about half a day at the track. More importantly, it also confirmed that just because someone else caught more in a different can doesn't mean this one isn't effective. The results here are so vastly different that it renders any comparison on different days obsolete. This isn't only the exact same catch can but the exact same car and same driver on the same track and within the same month. Nevertheless, the difference in conditions yielded hugely different results. 




I wish someone would set up a test bench in a controlled environment to actually rate the effectiveness of different cans on sale now. In my opinion, for the results to be valid, they would have to set up an air loop with a known amount of continuous oil supply in it, connect different catch cans to that loop and measure the amount of oil that collects in each can after a certain run time. This should be repeated with different loop air pressures to simulate the different pressures that would be seen in the PCV line at different engine loads and RPMs for both naturally aspirated and supercharged engines. Then the runs should be repeated again at different temperatures and humidity levels. A test such as that would be conclusive as to which catch can is more effective at catching oil. Otherwise, the results would be meaningless and until then, I'll be happy with my current setup knowing it's keeping all that oil out of the engine cylinders. I hope this helps someone make a decision if they are hesitant about getting one.


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Ford Focus RS Makes Big Power!




Just remember, you heard it (or read it) here first. Ford said that this will be the most powerful Focus ever with "well in excess of 315 hp". Back in February when I posted about it (2016 Focus RS), I brought up the extremely limited edition RS500 which made 345 hp so I expected this one to make close to 350 hp. Sure enough, Ford officially revealed that the Focus RS will make 345 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque from its 2.3 litre EcoBoost engine. This time, though, it won't be a very limited edition to get all that power. All RS's will make that power, at least until Ford makes a performance package or special edition with even more.




As Ford said when it debuted the RS, the engine has been significantly upgraded to handle the added power compared to the 310 hp unit found in the Mustang EcoBoost. The 2.3 litre engine shares the block with the Mustang but significant upgrades support the increased power. The radiator and intercooler are both much bigger units. A new twin-scroll turbo with a larger compressor wheel increases airflow, which is also aided by less restrictive intake and exhaust systems. The exhaust also features an electronically controlled valve that "helps optimize the balance of back pressure and noise output." Typically, such exhaust valves stay closed for quiet operation under light load and open at a certain rpm. To handle the added power, an upgraded alloy is used for the cylinder head to withstand higher temperatures which is also mounted on a head gasket with improved thermal capability. Inside, the cylinder block features stronger high-tensile cast iron liners.

The engine will have a redline of 6,800 rpm and peak torque is available from 2,000 pm to 4,500 rpm and an overboost feature will allow up to 346 lb-ft of torque for 15 seconds at a time. All this power will be routed exclusively through a six speed manual and a torque vectoring AWD system will help put all the power to the pavement. All of this adds up to a very capable package that, on paper, should be vastly superior in performance to its closest competitors, the Golf R and Subaru WRX STi. I'm really looking forward to the first comparison test between all three.

Mustang Shelby GT350 - Legendary Name Brings Legendary Power




It's old news by now but I can't see my blog not having a post about this.. I'm a big Mustang fun. It's the highest revving, most powerful and most power dense production engine in Ford's history. Need more superlatives? It's also Ford's first flat-plane crankshaft and the world's largest flat-plane crankshaft V8. It also has another achievement to add to its portfolio. At 526 hp, it makes over 100 hp/litre.




It will make its peak power, 526 hp, at 7,500 rpm and a peak torque value of 429 lb-ft at 4,750 rpm which gives it a healthy hp and torque peaks spread of 2,750 rpms. Moreover, 90% of peak torque is available from approximately 3,450 rpm and 7,000 rpm. Optimizations have been made everywhere to ensure the engine is always happy to go around a track.

As everyone now knows, the engine will feature a plat-plane crankshaft to improve engine breathing. It does so by separating cylinder banks exhaust pulses (i.e. you can't have two cylinders on opposite banks in the exhaust stroke and pushing exhaust through the exhaust pipes). The engine will be mated only to a Tremec TR-3160 six speed manual (as it should be). The transmission is specifically engineered for low mass and the high rpm application of the GT350 and GT350R Mustangs. It features a lightweight aluminum case and clutch housing and optimized gear cross-sections, dual mass flywheel and dual-disc clutches, all in the name of reducing weight and inertia.

Other unique features of the new 5.2 litre V8 include a slightly oversquare bore and stroke of 94 x 93 mm and a high 12.0:1 compression ratio. The cylinder heads are CNC machined, the intake valves are hollow stemmed and the exhaust valves are sodium filled. Both valves can be lifted a significant 14 mm. Feeding air to the engine is an 87-mm throttle body, the largest Ford has ever fitted to a production engine.

A unique new aluminum engine block featuring Ford’s "patented plasma transferred wire arc cylinder-liner technology" is lighter. This process allows Ford to eliminate heavy iron cylinder liners with a deposition process. The flat-plane crankshaft is forged and is “gun drilled” to reduce total engine weight. A lightweight, high-capacity baffled oil pan is designed to sustain high g-forces in high-speed cornering and hard braking. Ford says even the intake is simpler and lighter. Everything has been optimized. Can't wait to see it in person? Me neither. Here's something that should help; some sibling rivalry between a GT350 and a GT350R out on the track.






Dodge Viper ACR is back!




If you've just bought the most hardcore version of any car that's currently on sale, it will very soon be rendered pedestrian. That's because the Viper ACR is back and it's even more capable. In fact, it's a lot more capable.






Upgraded suspension? Check. The brakes are carbon-ceramic Brembo units with six piston callipers in the front clamping on 15.4 inches rotors and four piston callipers in the back clamping on 14.2 in rotors. Adjustable Bilstein coil-overs replace the stock units and the springs now are stiffer at 600 lb/in in the front and an eye water 1,300 lb/in in the back. Unlike many aftermarket adjustable dampers, those shocks feature 10 settings to adjust both rebound and compression. The coil-overs also allow for ride height adjustment of up to 3 inches! The tires? Oh, they're big. 295/25/19 in the front and 355/30/19 in the rear. If all of this adjustability isn't enough, consider the adjustable aero bits.






An optional Extreme Aero package will feature a detachable front splitter extension, an adjustable dual-element carbon fibre rear wing, four dive planes, six removable diffuser strakes, removable brake ducts, and hood louvers that can be popped out to decrease air pressure in the wheel wells. There are race cars that would have to change body parts to change airflow in the wheel wells, not pop out louvers. Ready for some numbers? Better be sitting down for this. All of this adjustability can be tuned to deliver 2,000 lbs at 177 mph. Two thousand pounds. Some press releases of high performance cars mention aerodynamic improvements to deliver zero lift at lower speeds. Some brag about a few hundred pounds of downforce. The brand spankin' new Porsche 911 GT3 RS has 761 lbs at 125 mph. less than half at over 50 mph lower. It also has 80% of the downforce that a GT3 Cup racing car has which would put a GT3 Cup racing car at 951 lbs at 125 mph. This street legal car will get 2,000 lbs at 177 mph. Let that sink in.






Inside, the ACR is surprisingly a lot more friendly than the last one. Dodge reduced the speaker count to only three. The Uconnect infotainment system is still available as well as A/C and there's still carpeting and plenty of sound insulation. Faux suede is used on the interior surfaces along with lightweight carpeting and a unique steering wheel and an ACR badge is placed on the dashboard.




As with the previous ACR version, power stays the same so the magic happens everywhere else. That means you still get the same 8.4 litre V10 making 645 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque through the same Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual. Dodge will probably be happy to tell you that that torque figure is still the highest of any production naturally aspirated engine. That's why Dodge likes to use big cubes although I have no doubt that the engine could easily make over 700 hp if it wouldn't step on Ferrari's toes. Actually, scratch that. It would absolutely make minced meat of Ferrari's toes.




At the end of the day, though, I don't think there's anything to complain about it if you can afford it. You'll be more comfortable inside while piloting a vastly more beastly machine. Bring it on!




Cadillac ATS-V+ with LS7 Power




Once I learned that the ATS-V will come with a twin-turbo V6, I was a little disappointed but thought that that it actually needs a TT V6 to compete with the M3. If it didn't have one, the ATS-V would have been looked down upon by German brand loyalists as being "old tech" and "inefficient". Cadillac still has to build brand credibility in that market so it's smart to offer the same type of technology so that the brand is the only thing they have to work hard to sell, not what's under the hood. Still, I (and many other fans) wanted a V8 but I never thought I'd see the day. A few weeks ago, though, a rumour has been going around that a higher version of the ATS-V will come and be called ATS-V+. It won't get the new LT1 V8, though, found in the Stingray and upcoming Camaro. No, it will come with the monster LS7 7.0 litre V8 that was in the C6 Corvette Z06 and the current Camaro Z/28. AWESOME.

I read that this was just that, a rumour. The fact that Cadillac CEO promised higher performance V-series cars, though, to combat cars like the Black Series for AMG and that the ATS was designed with an engine bay that can accept V8 makes me think it's a possibility. So here's hoping for a naturally aspirated, V8 powered, 7.0 litre ATS-V.


Dad's Supercar - A great mid-engine build

I came across this home build on a forum (Cobaltss.net) and thought it was really cool. It's a mid-engine build with an engine out of a Cobalt SS (appears to be an LSJ) with a dry sump oiling system. The goal, according to the page, is to have 450 hp on gas to drive to the strip and switch to methanol, change injectors and tune and run with ~ 1,000 hp.






Rear suspension:



Front suspension:



Check it out the (little) details on the build here: Dad's Home-built mid-engine Supercar


Formula race car driver reflexes in the rain


Super fast reflexes, great situational awareness and excellent car control. Watching that save was so impressive that I had to watch it a couple of times. My favourite part is staying focused, in control and continuing the race after avoiding the situation.





Can a fuel additive add hp? Dyno with Video!


Have you ever wondered if fuel additives really make a difference in how the car runs? Better yet, have you ever got in an argument with someone about whether or not it makes a difference? I have. This should settle it (assuming you trust the results of course).