Small details about Carol Lee herself (you can skip it and just jump in to the review)
You may know her on the car shows this year, yes, there she is, the lead editor of Drivers.com. Born in Malaysia, 27-year old Carol Lee is a professional automobile journalist as well as a grid girl and model that sometimes can be seen on many major races. She’s one of the founders of Drivers.com. A fanatic of Ursulas she currently owns a 2014 Ursula F3 300T sedan as her daily driver. Although she’s pretty talented and outspoken she isn’t the kind of girl to talk about her dreams, since she’s more of a realist herself.
Picture of her current vehicle, an 2014 Ursula F3 300T sedan (Thanks for @Aaron.W for the original design, I just changed the colour, engine tuning and other stuff on the car to make it look much better.)
(2013 - 2018) 2005 Permata Aspire 1.4 ES (Sold in 2018)
(2016 - present) 2014 Ursula F3 300T (2016 - present)
2020 Tanaka Akuma - Blazing for the Third Time
Tanaka’s latest Akuma is finally here, but the question remains, it is the halo car of the Osaka-based firm actually the halo car that everyone wanted?
Carol Lee (@Carol_Lee), 2nd October 2019
This is Carol Lee from Drivers.com speaking, and welcome to our first ever review! If it isn’t, how am I have ended up at Tanaka’s test track in Osaka, Japan’s third largest city?
The reason why we’re here is we’re going to review the latest Akuma supercar. Yes, I’m not trying to make a bad joke here. The Akuma is still alive and kicking, and in it’s third generation, Tanaka’s prime halo car is seeking for a offense against it’s competition. So, will it be an explosion of thrill like it’s predecessors? Let’s find out.
Let’s get back to the main point. Before we start making this review, lets tell a little history of the Akuma itself. The original Akuma was launched in 2003 as the halo vehicle of Tanaka. It was pretty much a blast when it was launched. The original Akuma is really a great supercar, with excellent handling and enough performance to beat even the Italians and the Germans at the time.
Just this year in Geneva, they decided to release a new one for the third time. The new production Tanaka Akuma, shown here, is much more bolder, aggressive and sometimes frightening than it’s predecessor as well. This can be seen from the front of the car, with LED strips tracing the sides of both the headlamps and the side vents. The rear is pretty much daunting as well, with the company clearly going for a sharper look for the car itself. Both of the exhaust pipes of the vehicle are placed on top, and there’s a spoiler, with a V8S model incorporates a smaller wing than it’s much powerful V8R brother.
And If I’m going to be really honest, I’m not really a fan of the over aggressive looks of most Tanakas these days. As much I liked most of their cars their styling are pretty much OTT recently, and sadly this generation of the Akuma is pretty easy prey for other people IRL. I miss the old days of sleeker, muted Tanakas. But hey, it’s still much, much better than the pre-production version that we saw on the show, and that is a plus for it.
Handling and Drivetrain
Inside, this mid-engined AWD supercar has a carbon-fiber chassis, which is pretty much the same as the last generation. But wait, we haven’t finished yet. The all-wheel drive supercars comes with an improved chassis and of course, pushrod suspensions on all sides. This does actually improves handling on paper, but without an engine a bare chassis isn’t going to win races.
And that’s why the engine comes to take charge of the performance department. With twin-turbochargers the Earthboost Z-Series engine can generate up to 716 hp (534 kW) in it’s most potent form that can be seen in the range-topping V8R. The result is an 2.5 seconds to 100 km/h and a 344 km/h top speed. And thanks to Earthboost we somehow can see an impressive 9.1 l/100km combined fuel economy which is crazy efficient for something like this.
The V8S has the same engine, but being the entry-level model the unit on the V8S is limited to “just” 658 hp. (Which is still enough for beating most supercars OTR) However, the V8S isn’t that much inferior, with similar 0-100km/h times and just 4 km/h slower than it’s brother. This is pretty much surprising, considering the V8S is more of a GT-like car compared to the sportier V8S.
Handling of these supercars are also improved. With a stiffer body, the sophisticated E-Diff and also that pushrod suspension I mentioned before the new Akuma is much more a better handling than before. With all those tech wouldn’t say this surprising, but if it’s not happening I would be really, really worried.
Now the interior is also much, much more comfortable than the older model, Premium leather seats, aluminum trims and improved HUD on both vehicles are making this supercar more comfortable to live in. Despite all of the interior goodies and AWD the car still manages to weigh less than 1500 kgs on both trims. Impressive. Both models is equipped with 20 inch rims, with the R currently using lower profile tyres for a more sportier ride.
Talks aside, let’s see how the Akuma preforms on the road.
The entry-level model comes first in our testing. I was expecting a dumbed down ride with worse handling, but no. It didn’t. Not only it feels fast, agile and precise, the Akuma V8S is pretty much a blessing on the track. Even with the horsepower deficit compared to the V8R the V8S really is a superb performer here. Sure, the heavier weight might pose a problem but despite that the V8R is an excellent balance between handling and comfort.
The Akuma’s 7-speed DCT is pretty quick and adequate for a car like this. The steering feels heavier, but that’s probably because of the hydraulic power steering, as opposed to the electric ones that some cars have. But I’m genuinely surprised that Tanaka is using it since it feels more direct and involved while turning corners. And speaking of corners, the more subtle tuning didn’t stop the V8S from being a good handling machine, and with the help of the 3-stage aero, as the car feels more stable while cornering.
Whilst I’m glad that the V8S is pretty much an unexpected surprise to drive, the more powerful, more track-focused V8R should be letting me make the same sparks like the V8S. Between the more aggressive suspension, more powerful engine and anything else, I was sure that the V8R will be a much better handler compared to it’s cheaper brother. But…not quite.
The V8R feels pretty much the same compared to the V8S. Despite it’s got better handling characteristics, I just don’t really feel the same as the V8S did. Nope, it isn’t meant to be a bad thing at all, the V8R is much better around corners, more twitchy and much more engaging than the V8S, but honestly, the V8S is just as good as it’s brother, with a better interior and a lower price. And despite having more power, the car isn’t that much better to drive, and despite the (slightly) lower weight it still feels like the same as the V8S. Even with the bigger wing, which was supposed to improve cornering, didn’t really help that much either.
After the drive, I’m feeling that the current-gen Akuma is still a great performer like it’s older generations. Even with the days of people caring more on technology than feel of driving, the Akuma still does what it was intended to be. From the better handling and raw driving feel to the advanced chassis and improved internals, the Akuma is holding onto the spot of the greats on this decade. They cared about us petrolheads, but they also know not everyone is willing to drive a car with archaic internals and subpar handlng. And it ends up being an awesome car to drive. It’s the halo car that we defenitely wanted.
Before ending this review, I’m asking myself one question: What car should I take? The V8R is great, but honestly I still think the V8S is enough for me. No need for fancy engines or aggressive aero, what I need is a good all-around performer in every case. And with the $20K difference it isn’t worth getting the more expensive V8R if you can get the cheaper V8S that does good in most cases as well.
2020 Tanaka Akuma
Overall Rating: 9.5/10
Thanks for @Aaron.W for providing the car files and some information about the vehicle.
As always, more reviews are coming soon!
If you have a car that you want to review then send a PM to me on here or on Discord!