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FIGHT ME (Market Research Gryphon Gear style)


#123

For now, I’m not going to get into any written preamble. It’s time to show you what you can expect with the first batch of reviews, so without further ado, here is:

Gryphon Gear Market Research

(Part One)


Note the colour coded values, think of them as weighted interpretations of image :wink:

Also please note, if you see missing values, particular with regards to markup and production quantity, please let me know so I can add them in!

Price units are Automation units, which is equivalent to 2010 USD.

The “how much would this sell for in the real world” is my attempt to ballpark estimate. My estimate may be skewed or wrong. Feel free to offer your own opinions.


@strop

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Car -148
Car -149

First Impressions- Strop

The hot hatch segment is always very competitive and each new model has to outdo the last significantly to even get punters to look twice. Armada have really pulled their socks up on this one, delivering an aggressive but tasteful looking package that ticks every box. Five seats, tick. Fully equipped with amenities and safety, check. Turbo four pot, check. Manual transmission, check. All of the necessities it appears to have done competently, but where it excels, as has always been the case at Armada, is delivering a real goddamn kick in the pants for those who dare give the car a poke. This is the most powerful proper mass-produced front wheel drive hot hatch on the market to date and it promises to be the fastest too.

First Impressions- Kai

Haha is that a Danish flag paintjob? Hahahahahahahaha after a few more seconds well it looks alright.

Driven Civilly

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Let’s face it, the engineers did all they could do make sure the car was tolerable and pliant enough on the road without shattering anyone’s spine, but all their passion and efforts really went into making this car faster than it had any right to be. And that’s exactly what the kind of punter who buys this car wants. Aside from being a bit jittery over the bumps, the Fore was fuss-free on the public roads. The main problem was actually the turbo, as a pretty hefty single scroll the spool comes in the mid 3k, and before that one is left with a piddling 130Nm of torque, or basically even less than the afterthought ecobox version, the Birdie, has to offer. Not surprisingly around-town economy isn’t the best, at a smidge over 9L/100km. If you can ignore that, though, you can at least enjoy the crisp short shifter, the AC and decent stereo, and the ability to smoke every family car at the lights.

Driven Hard




On the hillclimb- Strop

All that power going to the front wheels meant getting a chirp of wheelspin even in second until the TC kicked in. The active aero pushed the car’s middle to higher speed cornering beyond what initially seems possible. Get to the choppy sections and the drive gets real lairy: coming out of the apex, one cannot simply mash the throttle or the turbo kicks in, the wheels spin and the steering goes light. At lower speeds this car must be treated with respect. It rewards patience and discipline with a gut wrenching ride, as the thick tyres and powerful brakes ensure superb cornering and stopping. I suspect I have yet to see just how much this thing can pull on a good road, because I was mainly busy being caught between wondering just how much harder I could push this thing, and dancing on the pedals using every trick in the FWD book to not fly off into a ravine. A very busy drive to be sure.

On the hillclimb- Kai

VWOOOOOOOOOOAR VWOOOOOOOOOAR PSSSSCHT NEOOOOOOOOW SPACK SPACK yeah this is more car than I thought it’d be.

At the track

As suspected, the Eagle’s frantic pace continues well past Australian freeway speeds and well into ‘high speed lane on the Autobahn’ range. Well past 200 and it still pulls and pulls. On the wider track with better quality bitumen one could properly appreciate all the visceral delights the engine that had a big turbo that popped and whistled and screamed all the way past 9k had to offer. It certainly had the chops to lay waste to other offerings that looked far more dedicated to the task and had less than half the seats, and for any enthusiast who grudgingly accepts the necessity of a practical ride, this is one way to get your satisfaction back.

Pros

  • Fully equipped
  • But full fat hoon approved
  • Rather good value

Cons

  • A bit cramped, especially in the rear, and the rear door is no help either
  • Uncommonly wide tyres for a family hatch really drive up the budget, especially if tracked
  • That turbo spool can make daily driving a bit of a chore
  • Back roads are lairy but not sufficient to untap the full potential

What real car is it like:

An FK8 Civic Type R

How much would it sell for in the real world?

~35000

Verdict

The new standard for the hottest FWD hatches. Armada die-hards certainly have something to die harder about, and everybody else should watch out.


@DeusExMackia

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First Impressions- Strop

Light and nippy sport coupe with some class and it looks the part. Pop the hood and holy moly the 4 banger has got some incredible parts in there, nothing you’ll find on the shelf. It’s a downsized version of Erin’s large i4 which normally displaces 2.4L, tuned to as far as it’ll go, pretty much. Call this the modern equivalent of a cough S2000, except with six speakers. It’s light, it’s all gears and cogs and analog and traditional with the FR format and the 6 speed manual. One wouldn’t have thought the staggered tyres would have been necessary, but that doesn’t stop the car from being engaging and good slightly-faster-than-slow fun.

First Impressions- Kai

Cute, if not for the headlights being a bit weird

Driven Civilly

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It’s sport sport and upmarket sport all the way with fancy trimmings and a rather firm ride with only 1170kg. Sport low profile tyres also contribute to ride harshness and road noise. On the plus side that does mean there’s plenty of scope for sporting feel even on the road, and feeling the simple pleasures of a machine that’s direct and responsive. There’s a real analogue feel here, manual transmission, no extra frills on the suspension, and it’s nice to see some of the old sports values retained. Having fun on the road like this also comes guilt free, with relatively good fuel economy and ultra low emissions.

Driven Hard




On the hillclimb- Strop

This was a facile but engaging drive, plenty of confidence in the brakes and once the nose was past the apex one could really hammer the gas without worry, even on the poor surfaces and narrow roads. It wasn’t terrifyingly fast but the throttle response was great which made for confident fun where you could really push the car knowing you were getting everything you could. This car is at its best on the tight slow corners and hairpins. It took a bit of time to get used to the long bonnet, but after that it was all man and machine, getting squeezed against the side bolsters of the bucket seats before banging through the gears, revving all the way to 8800rpm and feeling like a hero. The main worry was the really high speed zones as after a lot of heavy braking the pedal started feeling a tad mushy.

On the hillclimb- Kai

Quite easy and fun. Pretty good balance. Got to play some nice tunes.

At the track

Just because this is one of the less powerful cars doesn’t mean it can’t go fast. With plenty of balls and determination it topped out at 220km/h around the Thunderdome, which is actually pretty fast considering the nature of this car. Naturally it’s probably going to get eaten alive by about half the cars here, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun even on the track. If anything one would encourage the weekend racer to take a car like this to the track, so they can get a feel for what it takes to drive at the limit. Again, just watch for the brakes, spearing off the Thunderdome is nobody’s idea of a great weekend.

Pros

  • Combination of everything that kind of enthusiast wants in a sports car: NA, manual, no active suspension
  • Able to have legal driving pleasure, though you’ll be tempted to push that legality

Cons

  • Relatively less actual performance for the price point
  • Slightly firm road ride, especially on shitty Australian roads
  • High speed braking gets scary after a while
  • The six speaker system adds extra weight and probably detracts from the focus of the rest of the car
  • The staggered tyres are of questionable necessity

What Real Car is it like:

An MX-5 ND Roadster GT with a hardtop

How much would it sell for in the real world?

~28000

Verdict

The sports roadster for the gentleman and lady who loves it old school and loves it B road.


@AirJordan

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First Impressions- Strop

Retro sportscar made modern, something Smooth is known to do on occasion. It’s an odd chimera of nostalgia enthusiast’s wet dream come true. Long bonnet and sleek lines with flared arches housing ridiculous wide wheels already creates an imposing profile, and is that carbon fiber? It’s all over the panels and the wheels, good god. This looks like it’s going to be an expensive affair. Same too with the muscle-sized V8 that barely squeezes into the engine bay. This looks like a kit car but has fancy parts, so it’s probably realistically going to be more than double the asking budget here, but hey, it’s here, and it looks good, so we should still drive it right?

First Impressions- Kai

AHHHH THE BUG EYES.

(It is worth noting that among other arbitrary things like Swedish products, Kai hates round headlights)

Driven Civilly

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This here is something that can definitely fight the GBF Bellua for road presence. It’s an absolute head-turner and totally not for shy drivers. Same can be said for the performance and the handling. The cabin is pretty spacious for such an old body, but it’s the road noise that really intrudes, thanks to the thick tyres. Also the interior, while definitely sporting in aspiration, are a bit bare and dated. Though that’s probably quite the minor detail in the grand scheme of things. The ride itself is actually really sorted and fuss free, thanks in no small part to the fancy and advanced suspension components: adaptive dampers, semi-active sway bars, and a setup that isn’t too stiff. Prod the gas and the car will absolutely obliterate even the most performance of sedans found locally. Do it too much though and you’ll find yourself pulling over for petrol real quick. But the burbling V8 is an absolute delight, so it’s really hard not to.

Driven Hard




On the hillclimb- Strop

It was immediately apparent that this would not be a car to be floored out of the hairpins. Full throttle was less than half the time, the braking points came much earlier, and any carelessness between second and third resulted in chirping of tyres and a lairy skip. The mid-front layout actually led to a rearward biased car which was great for acceleration but the front sometimes lacked the traction, demanding left foot braking with a bit of throttle in the middle of tighter corners. The sheer speed of this thing verged on terrifying, yet in reality due to the oodles of traction available and the superior chassis rigidity the car had a much more planted feel. It might even be the kind of car you’d want to take competitively to hillclimb events, it would be a blast.

On the hillclimb- Kai

after being coaxed into actually driving it This is pretty quick for a not-race car. Except it is a race-car, isn’t it? Is it?

At the track

With this much power on tap care had to be taken even on the banked curves of the Thunderdome. The front end getting a bit light was enough warning to back off and really feather the throttle. 550bhp is no joke, and pretty soon the Basking was brushing the far wall doing faster than the top speeds of many of the cars here. In fact it would be well faster than even the touring race cars of yesteryear that drove this course. With solid and stable dynamics, the driver was largely free to really pin it here and feel the massive shove.

Pros

  • This is fast!
  • The weight distribution suits the power
  • For essentially a retro muscle car it handles rather well
  • Some will find it sexy

Cons

  • Average punter in this segment will never be able to afford the purchase
  • Average punter in this segment will never be able to afford the upkeep either
  • Don’t ding the panels!
  • Definitely not a daily
  • Specialist looks for specialist interests

What Real Car is it like:

I dunno, a Shelby Daytona Coupe? How about the custom C5 GTO?

How much would it sell for in the real world?

It’d probably be a collector’s item or a one-off, so it’s hard to tell

Verdict

Well over budget, but a dalliance with this model is like going on a fancy date with an Italian bodybuilder in stilletos and garters (or a Versace suit and bow tie, depending on which team you bat for): hedonistic, and quite possibly could break you in two.


@conan

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First Impressions- Strop

This was described in the brief as ‘a touring car retooled for the road’. This makes a lot more sense. Otherwise what reason would there be to put a 2.3L four pot in a supercar? And that single-scroll turbo is… not small. Actually, the brief never made it clear whether this was a car designed for racing or whether it was just the engine in a car, but for sure, the interior was sparse and the wing was big and the tyres were thicc. With a sleek shape and very low ride height it certainly had a racey impression going. As advertised, however, we weren’t so sure about the ‘Classic sports car’ feel.

First Impressions- Kai

Oooh sporty, I- pops the hood hey, why is it missing half an engine?

Driven Civilly

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After about four seconds of wondering whether there was something wrong with the engine, a spirited poke with the throttle revealed the spooling point and the cliff of torque, and something far more disconcerting: a complete lack of traction control. Strangely enough when the back end threatened to plow into the nearest oncoming car, the Feroce’s E-diff stepped up and tucked it back in. So no TC but ESC… our tame racing driver had to be heavily restrained from pulling ‘semi-controlled drifts’ through every corner. The suspension was far more pliant and soft considering everything else seemed to be designed to be all balls-to-the-wall. But that was where the niceties ended, lost amongst the deafening road noise and rock hard seats and lack of A/C. In reality, this was not the kind of car anybody would want to daily, from the slightly thirsty fuel consumption to the mercurial throttle control. This was ultimately a go hard or go home car. Yet, the strangest part was the gearbox. A classic six speed manual, but the top gear appeared to have a ratio set to about 470km/h. Doing 100km/h on the Calder and we thought we’d try sixth, and the car almost stalled! Maybe it’s for cruising at 300 on the Autobahn or something.

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

Knowing the figures and the lack of TC, this was initially an exercise in caution. There was some hesitation applying the throttle in anything other than straights. On the other hand, the really thick rubber on the rear, rearward weight bias and the pliant suspension setup lent a lot of confidence to really hammer it in second and above and feel some rather brisk acceleration and bang through the gears. And boy is the shifter a delight, it’s just a shame that the gearing was so far apart, especially at the high end. I don’t think I even left third. For such a flighty engine, the chassis itself felt far more composed, probably due to a surprisingly high weight. That said, steering response was still very direct with minimal understeer, and the brakes did their job fautlessly. Overall, a car like this isn’t best suited to something so tight and technical and I was having to exercise more patience than I would have liked getting out of the tighter corners. The surprise pluses seemed more to be coincidental than by design.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

SUDDENLY POWAAAAAAA. Really just needs the other half of the engine

On the track

The same strengths and weaknesses in this car were clearly displayed on track. The four pot with the long gearing was even more flagrantly at odds with the stately handling characteristics. The steering rewarded smoothness, but trying to predict the appropriate application of throttle was forever a game of cat and mouse. We found ourselves aching to put in a closer ratio six speed for better responsiveness, more fun, and less drop-off between gears. As it were, a little too much or too early in the corners and the rear would blip and the diff would drag it back in. It turned the driving experience into more of a trial-and-error session where the car was a teacher who wouldn’t actually tell you what the lesson was about, only smack you over the knuckles with a ruler whenever you said something wrong.

Pros

  • Lovely handling characteristics
  • Fantastic gearbox and trick diff

Cons

  • Engine and gearbox don’t match
  • Interior and body don’t match
  • Why is there no traction control?

What Real Car is this Like?

I dunno, a 4-pot Venturi 400 GT?

How much would it sell for in the real world?

This isn’t the kind of car that would sell in the real world, not publicly anyway

Verdict

As quirky as the, what is this, French come? Body and gearbox of a grand tourer, engine and interior of a not grand tourer. The reciprocal twin to this Frankenstein would have been more fun.


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Car -157

First Impressions- Strop

So we just remarked that the FRE Feroce’s reciprocal twin might be a lot more fun? It seems we’re ready to put that to the test already: instead of a sports car body with the engine of a touring car, we now have a touring car body with the engine of a sports car. V8 hatches are a vanishingly small market dedicated to company showboating, but when they do appear they are usually glorious. This one blew the door down and strode in with no pretense and all business: simply but imposingly styled, with the proper CONANTECH badge on the back. The interior is up to modern standard, in fact, on the advanced side for it (drawing favourable comparisons to the Armada Fore). The 3 doors, the subtle wing and the 35 profile tyres all hinted at the trim, but betrayed nothing of the true potency of the engine.

First Impressions- Kai

Not really sporty. But real comfy. Real solid. Would also consider if I was mafioso. (Refer to Kai’s reaction to the BMMA Salmon 2.3 GT Sprint 2)

Driven Civilly

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Out of everything tested so far, this was the most everyday car of the lot. Very pleasant to drive, very easy to cruise. The clutch was light and the gearbox throws short and precise but not fussy or overly notchy. The V8 was very happy to purr along at barely above idle on the highway and the freeway. Bumps were very neatly absorbed on the rough roads, though there was quite a bit of body roll when pushing hard, not that this resulted in any understeer, a somewhat unusual feeling. One could sit at the lights in confidence that any time needed, generous throttle application would yield desired results. The only thing that detracted from the ride quality was the sports tyres in both width and profile, causing a fair bit of rumble in the cabin at speed.

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

Naturally being a hatch it was going to be compared to the Fore, though only in the same way as, say, a BMW M2 would be compared to a Civic Type R. Conan the German brought an extra 250kg and much more muscle in an FR format. It was faster in a straight line, but more geared to cruising than tight technical tracks. Barely five seconds in and the prediction was already looking to come true: I had to brake earlier and lift off before accelerating back out, not because of the rear wheel traction, but because the cornering was simply not as sharp due to the relative softness of suspension and the extra weight. Thanks to the great characteristics of the naturally aspirated V8 all the joy in this car came from how easily one could apply throttle and hear the rumble rising. But it certainly isn’t a car that’s particularly oriented to the rigours of mountain passes, so care has to be taken not to push it to be something that it isn’t.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

Like rolling around on a featherdown. Really… pillowy. But not fat, like a fat American.

On the track

Once again this was best described as a pleasantly quick rather than raw and visceral experience. In the banked Thunderdome the tyres started decidedly scrubbing, though due to the much easier control, corner speed was better maintained compared to the Feroce. For the first time it was not possible to keep full throttle through the gentle chicane of 12-13, simply because the handling wasn’t sharp enough. Nor were we all that compelled to try, it simply isn’t that kind of car.

Pros

  • Plush and comfy
  • Solid and safe
  • Genuine V8 modor, very satisfying in a straight line
  • Great drivetrain
  • Practical and can carry decent amounts of cargo

Cons

  • More plush = less actual space for occupants and cargo compared to the Fore
  • More engine is outweighed by the extra weight
  • Smoother ride means less capable handling in general

What Real Car is this like?

An E92 M3 crammed into a 3 door hatch

How much would it sell for in the real world?

~38000

Verdict

Instead of being a sports car dressed up as a daily, this is a daily dressed up as a sports car.


Right, so it appears that even a batch of 9 reviews doubles the character limit. So I’m going to go with batches of 5 :joy:


Erin Motor Company - Update from 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
#124

Moving right along, then:


@Rk38

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First Impressions- Strop

GBF are our partner company for the car that spawned this belated research project, so naturally it was not difficult to see how this car shared similar genetic source material. This one however probably belongs to a higher tier, all fancy stitched trim with lightweight materials and a dash of leather. Properly acoustic speaker system. Really fancy controls with a classic touch and lots of LED. Sculpted lines, sculpted vents, sculpted lights, this is as much artwork as you can get for the budget. However there were immediately two glaring issues: first, the safety rating was only good enough for current but not projected standards for sale in Australia and Europe past 2020, an issue explained away by the fact this car was not going to be produced then anyway as it was a strictly limited run as was everything from GBF. The other thing was the curious mismatch between power and powered tyres: this car would have easily fit the JDM Gentleman’s Agreement of the early 90s, but the rear wheels essentially come from a Lamborghini Diablo, which isn’t going to be easy to source on the go around here. It’s especially odd as the front tyres come from what you’d expect on a car of this class, more like a Lotus Elise. Chalk another one up for GBF weirdness.

First Impressions- Kai

Ooooh fancy! And in my favourite shade of red too! And if I turn the volume up I get a scalp massage!

Driven Civilly

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The absolute first thing one notices when they attempt to turn out of the driveway is an unfamiliar feeling… of there being no power steering. This car is light by modern standards, and the front even lighter still. But the lack of power steering brings a directness and a feedback on a level that cannot be substituted by the finest of assisted mechanisms. Of course, in the mostly 90 degree bends punctuated by stop start traffic, it’s just a bit of chore, however mitigated by the weight distribution and the disconcerting narrowness of the front tyres. On the plus side this merely adds to the wholly committed, involved experience of driving this particular trim, with a delightful shift action and an integrated electronic stability control and differential system that really masks the really understeery characteristic caused by the extreme stagger in the tyres. The turbo is actually very unintrusive on both counts, being such low boost, even though it spools so late, it doesn’t really rob the engine of much throttle response, though being a smaller engine, it does have to be worked harder to get to the ‘fun zone’. It’s a good thing then that first in this is short for a sporty car, and the ratios and nicely spaced for Australian conditions.

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

The aforementioned curious mismatch of choices really makes for some unique dynamics here, some good, some not so good. For something so frugal and modestly powered, it really shoots off the line, making the full use of its rear traction and trick diff. First, second and third are just a joy to blast through, espeically with this screamer of a tiny V6 revving almost all the way to 10k with a huge powerband. But then the first oddity: the front wheels are so narrow compared to the rear they just really like to understeer and it badly affects speed in the hairpins, which is an additional shame considering just how flat the car really corners. It just makes me want to shout or really chop the axle a bit and install wider tyres. I guess on the plus side it did mean I could push much more confidently as the understeer was really very progressive and predictable, so in a way, I probably went faster than I would have with something more on the edge. Just not what I expected from this kind of trim.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

The rear is all grip, the front is all slip. Having ten speakers really helps mask the sound of tortured tyres.

On the track

The sleek profile of the Exsilio helped strengthen its case in the high end, and sneakily aided by the curious active wing. Even with the lack of power this was good for about 235km/h on Thunderdome, which is not bad. The stable, flat handling was a boon, again allowing adventurous application of throttle and much sawing of the wheel with impunity. It’s barely quicker than the Conan S40, but a completely different approach. After several laps we felt we’d worked this one out: it’s the kind of car that gives you maximum driving feel but doesn’t make it stupidly hero car difficult to drive, so you get the most pleasure in something that won’t bite your head off for pushing it a bit too hard. In a way it rewards daring driving moreso than skilled driving, but not everybody has racedriver skills (shut up, Kai), and that’s possibly a lesson in relevance that GG has mostly ignored when making their cars, for better or for worse.

Pros

  • Rather easy to drive for MR sports with no power steering
  • Low end vroom is a joy in traffic and on tight roads
  • Great suspension feel
  • Quite frugal
  • Very nice interior trim and entertainment system, very premium GBF
  • Exterior is eye-catching

Cons

  • Safety not quite up to scratch
  • Ridiculous rear wheel profile a real pain for procurement
  • Heaps of front wheel understeer will frustrate skilled drivers
  • Expensive active wing adds weight and has questionable benefit considering qualified high speed credentials
  • Forget road trips, this thing can barely store a Happy Meal, let alone a suitcase.

What Real Car is this like?

An Alfa 4C dressed up like an 8C, except with actually good handling

How much would it sell for in the real world?

~65000

Verdict

Quirky and bold, if you can put up with some wallet-burning ‘character’, it’ll do wonders for your driving ego without the fishtailing into a kerb.


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First Impressions- Strop

Maesima continue to develop their reputation as masters of style with this modern, sculpted offering that draws immediate comparisons to the Erin Nardella. This is quite useful, for while they are fundamentally similar they are also fundamentally different: the use of the ActivBoost technology in the MCA block promises a broad powerband while retaining the high revving characteristics. We’ve previously had concerns about the reliability of Maesima engines, given their overstressed components, so naturally have to wonder the same here, though the material and fabrication methods also seem to have addressed this somewhat. Experience wise, it is clear that Maesima wish to showcase the extent of their abilities on the road, with ground effect undertray and an actual, real diffuser, a properly sporting interior (also with six speakers, like the Erin), and what look like race-bred brake calipers. It’s like they transplanted the components off a supercar. In essence this was classic tweaked with the full bore of modern technology.

First Impressions- Kai

This is sexy. I need a bigger garage.

Driven Civilly

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Looking at the STX-R is one thing. Actually driving it is another. You’ll understand the first thing you do after you push START, and you hear the engine sound (it sounds pretty regular like a mildly boosted i4). Then you grasp the shifter and you will never think of the car in the same way. The silky smooth action, the short and direct travel, the weight, the clutch, this is the kind of gearbox that proper supercars should have. It’s already hedonistic enough to drive slowly in traffic, but when fanging it up the on-ramp or downshifting it’s nearly enough to make one spaff their pants. You feel like a race car driver without having to break the speed limit. Not to mention the autoblip and rev matching feature matches to your skill so as to massage you into feeling one with the drivetrain. Just how much money went into this makes one wonder. In concert with this, the suspension is well balanced and sorted, absorbing the bumps but staying flat and grippy, with almost no understeer at all. The turbo kicks in quite early, mitigating many of the problems of more hardcore offerings like the Fore Eagle GTi as while it’s not great in the start-stop crawl of peak hour (what is?), it’s definitely workable in most conditions. By the end of the trip the relation to the Nardella emerged, like a younger, hipper, beefier cousin that ditched the gentleman suit for tight jeans, lifetime membership at the gym and scientifically proven protein supplements.

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

The pleasure turns to pressure somewhat under tight conditions, and depending on your skill level that can either feel like a buzz or quite scary. Physics dictates that there’s only a finite amount of frictional force between tyres and the road. Everything feels well balanced, but then there’s always the two halves in my head telling me I can go harder, and the other half saying if I lose traction the cliff is right there and there’s no guardrail. On the plus side at least one could confidently stamp on the brake any time anywhere and the bite was sharp and immediate. In the world of modern sports cars, thank God for the niceties of stability aids, although really, again the turbo here was not so sudden as to cause significant difficulty. It was difficult to appreciate what some of the technical showcase pieces, like the ground effect, actually did for the handling here, I suspect not much to be honest, and so I wasn’t sure that despite a car like this being that seat-of-your-pants fun on a road like this, whether I had seen the depth of its potential. Or, even, what it thought its own potential was to be.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

I bet I can take that corner faster! Faster! Faster! MOAR BOOOSCHT (if Kai bought this he would definitely tune it and then it’d need new internals…)

On the track

As suspected, on the track, the true handling of the STX-R comes to the fore. On the high speed corners there is little loss in the steering feel and stability, and the STX-R attacked the Thunderdome and the high speed chicane with gusto. It was in fact the power to weight ratio that held the car back, not because it was necessarily slow, but just because it was the weakest link in something that was dressed like a comfy race car. It was kind of frustrating getting passed by most of the other cars on the track despite being able to stick to them like glue on the corners, yet never quite being able to capitalise on it by passing them, which included the Conan S47.

Pros

  • Technological treasurebox in a reasonbly priced sports car
  • Orgasmic gearshifts
  • Addictive handling that rewards skill and bravery and fantastic suspension setup that soaks up bumps

Cons

  • Classic Maesima engine reliability concerns are yet to be clarified
  • Engine is relatively weak compared to the strength of the other components

What Real Car is this like?

A BMW 1M missing 2 cylinders worth of power.

How much would it sell for in the real world?

~35000

Verdict

Rip-roaring chassis, both civilised and sporty. It’s just begging for the affluent hoon to dump another 10k on it to give it the power it deserves?


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First Impressions- Strop

Here is an upscale sedan, for the market Australia largely forgot (see: demise of local manufacturers). But it’s a market that is still alive and well in the form of affluent import offerings, and bustling competition overseas. If one couldn’t quite afford (or tolerate) the Toorak tractor in favour of something sleeker, more dynamic (and better looking) then this is the place to be. The sL200 certainly looks the part, aggressive lines full of intent on a classic sedan body. The interior is proper premium (I will put aside my bias against leather for now), with all the bits of trim and extras you definitely won’t find in a truly sport-oriented car at this price point. The LCD infotainment display is bigger, the buttons are crisper, and the atmosphere stately, imposing. It’s all part of the performance art, though, naturally, with that, I suspect it also carries a statelier heft.

First Impressions- Kai

Grand, real grand. Maybe if I’m 40 with twins.

Driven Civilly

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Sachiuri have spared little expense in what is definitely the most daily liveable car yet. With the exception of, interestingly enough, an abnormally small rear door, just like with the Armada Fore, this is every bit the 2017 premium sedan the successful, upper-middle class parent would expect while dropping their kids off at their private school before purring their way to their 25th floor office in management. Actually, I lie, 25th floor management probably wouldn’t have this kind of taste, it probably is more the domain of those with more individual, marginal tastes, like, say, doctors and architects. Given this, the choice of DCT is an interesting one, particularly as it is difficult to hide the clunkiness of shifting in low gears, especially given a rather tall first. In stop-start traffic it is just slightly noticeable, but when moving along it fades away, leaving us in an insulated cocoon of cool pleasantness bathed in surround sound in which one plays Mozart or Coltrane or what have you. Another pleasant note; the engine may have a decent amount of donk to round out a certain smug superiority in which you can smoke lesser mortals at the lights, but driven as you’ll want to, it returns a decent fuel economy. Not the best, but decent, especially as NA V6es go.

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

Like your typical upmarket sedan, this was never going to be a chuckable vehicle. I also noted with a degree of trepidation that the wheels were fairly narrow, even if low-profile. The relatively comfortable suspension setup did also leave more room for body roll, yet despite this, by some sorcery the front really pitched its nose in accordance with the steering. While it wasn’t a machine that compelled hard driving, it still inspired confidence and allowed you to push its limits without fear of punishment. The obvious and necessary flipside to this was that the hard driving experience was softened, not as engaging. The limits weren’t particularly scary or extreme, and I found myself loath to turn either the A/C or the radio off while driving.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

On second thought, maybe I’ll still get it but Bianca can drive me around in it.

On the track

There was little to change the impression from the hills on the track, aside from the added confidence to throw the car at the kerbs a bit more, for it was nigh impossible to unsettle. The one exception was the odd sensation of the rear feeling a bit light on very high speed corners. It seems that the lip on the front wasn’t purely cosmetic, and there certainly wasn’t anything in the way of spoilers or wings on the rear. Else, the sL200 proved here that it was perfectly capable of cruising past 200km/h and feeling almost just as easy as it did at lower speeds, though, even as just about everybody blasted by screaming through the corners, one found it difficult to care.

Pros

  • Super comfy
  • Really classy
  • Most pleasant to daily
  • Feels nice at almost any speed

Cons

  • Pricier than most things here
  • Makes you want to feel lazy and soft, less Sport and more Touring
  • DCT with tall first a minor annoyance at very low speeds

What Real Car is this like?

A Lexus IS

How much would it sell for in the real world?

~50000

Verdict

That which makes it uncompelling to drive hard, is what makes it supreme on the road.


@Stryfe

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First Impressions- Strop

“Something hopefully different”, came the note from our long-lost partner who started out GG’s own aerodynamic journey. They’d disappeared for some years but clearly hadn’t stayed still, coming up with this surprise package in the form of a sportwagen, the kind that you’d think would go for at least twice or three times the budget as laid out here. The other way in which it was different was unfortunately the gagging it elicited as soon as we laid eyes on the front end. Hello, 2006 Subaru called and wanted its bad fascia trip back. Bundling inside as fast as possible proved the perfect salve for our burning eyes, because we were immediately swaddled in leather and woodgrain and tasteful chrome lining. This was definitely up there in the substance stakes. Dual zone climate control, big LCD, all the doodads and whizzbangs, beefy leather steering wheel full of nice firm clicky buttons. It appeared that Stryker had been paying to a lot more attention than to just aero while they were on the downlow. I just wanted to offer them some design tips, maybe afterwards.

First Impressions- Kai

It’s not all bad, after a few ram raids you’ll hardly notice the front!

Driven Civilly

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Sports wagons are a grand statement. They show you’re prepared to go your own way but you do it in style (maybe not so much here), but also comfort. You have a family, you need to bring lots of stuff on your trips, but you have all the comforts at your disposal. A proper sports wagon is the all-in-one platform but you care about your vehicle dynamics, so you refuse to get an SUV. The Sinatra does a stellar job of achieving this vision in utter comfort, with the exceptions of not being quite as spacious per passenger as the Sachiuri, and the extra thicc tyres (for better cornering and acceleration) causing extra rumble through the cabin at higher speeds. But you can rest assured that even among sports cars, your superiority in speed and significance of presence will prevail. The fuel economy isn’t so good, but I suspect if you got this car, you don’t really care about burning a hole in your wallet as much as you care about the naturally aspirated V12 that would have gone in an earlier Aston Martin. Speaking of which, goodness gracious what a raucous exhaust tone. The heady overtones fill the cabin when you put your foot down, but for some reason, you can’t turn it down even when you’re not banging the loud pedal. Great fun at first but a bit odd in a vehicle that otherwise spends so much of its time telling you to forget about the rigors of the outside world.

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

As the first AWD car of the test, it made a certain amount of sense, feeling like one was able to put the foot down hard and early and not worry about spearing into a rock face or a tree. Even more interestingly the central diff was preset to directing 2/3 the power to the rear, in an attempt to curb understeer. The nose dipped in sharply but not overly so, keeping one ever so mindful that one was driving nigh two metric tons at breakneck pace. The front suspension in particular was actually relatively soft, in particular the damping, to the point there was very little feedback or correlation through the steering wheel; one simply had to point and pray. In this sense it was less of an engaged experience, but more an abstract marvel that something so large could travel so fast, the grand surprise being that it was very nearly as quick as the hardcore Fore Eagle GTi, though undoubtedly this was more to do with the AWD and power advantage than it was to do with dynamic character.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

Point, shoot, lumber, turn up the tunes, enjoy.

On the track

The benefit of smooth roads and curves yielded some novel insights into the Sinatra. First, that it had a lot to haul around and really felt this at higher speeds, meaning that for all its power it almost felt like running out of puff in fourth, resting on the laurels of the blistering first three gears. Second, that one could really feel the full benefit of the wide tyres in the corners, for when hauling the car around them, the tyres just gripped and gripped. So we found ourselves carrying greater corner speed than many of the dedicated sportsters, but also slower around the Thunderdome. Nowhere near as sedate as the Sachiuri, it really gave many of the other cars hell, and must have been quite the imposing sight as it thundered past coming out of the corners. The Sinatra had found its second home.

Pros

  • Well stacked and super plush
  • Engine note is heavenly
  • Great low end shove
  • Heaps of grip

Cons

  • Heavier than a stack of bricks
  • Engine volume becomes intrusive and not-so-heavenly
  • Really squeezing the budget, plebs need not apply
  • Bordeline obnoxious fuel consumption
  • Front dampers are so soft there is no steering feel

What Real Car is this like?

Audi RS4 Avant

How much would it sell for in the real world?

~75000

Verdict

You feel the need to swing your well-moneyed penis around doing TRACKDAY BRO, but you have kids and you can’t stand SUVs.



#125

IIRC the STX-R was a very limited edition. And I did try to boost a Maesima, it didn’t turn out too well, reliability of 50 against 70+ stock on minimal boost… It was also a reason why the i4 lump left the engine bay as soon as drift car build commenced :smiley:


#126

Totally. My comments attempted to convey the fact I could see the reliability of even that block struggling (although you can’t really see reliability in effect on a single test drive unless the engine happens to break down)… and that indeed was on low boost, which is why I said it’d need new parts! I just think the dimensions simply didn’t support stock level parts at all.


#127

That is why v8 swaps exist :smiley:
In any case, nice writeups. I can really understand which car has what character and specifics.


#128

well then. i’ll be waiting for your reaction on what KSR did to the STX then.


#129

Gee, the poor MCA engine is getting bad reputation :joy: Let’s hope this isn’t some type of Theta II style massive recall in the waiting :stuck_out_tongue:

But these are some great reviews, expertly detailed that shall give all manufacturers involved some food for thought.

Looking forward to the rest of the reviews!


#130

I’m worried about what I’ve send in.

Oh, someone remember the Salmon 2 seat special I’ve sent…


#131

Great start to the reviews - honest, detailed and surprisingly concise. Keep up the good work!


#132

ahahahahaha you motherf***** :joy:

Well you are spot on. Actually the price mirrors just production cost, the real deal wuld be astronomical. Daytona Coupe was spot on. The story of this car is sort of a racer for street prototype to celebrate the immense success of the racing company but than customers demanded limited production… So yeah, spot on, good stuff as allways.


#133

I grow worried as well :slight_smile:


#134

Haha it seems that AirJordan always gets the short end of the stick with Kai :stuck_out_tongue:

At least it’s not a Saminda :rofl:


#135

Holy cow @strop, this is in-depth. I mean, I love it, and the writing is fantastic, but have you done anything else other than write these recently? Are you eating properly? How much sleep are you getting?


#136

Hmm, I see bad reviews coming… :frowning:


#137

This is… Wow. Normally I don’t read all of the reviews in detail, but these, I’ve held onto just about every word. Can’t wait to see what the characters of Strop and Kai think of the two machines I’ve sent in, but I’m perfectly content with the appetizers being served up from other people’s cars.


#138

Cheers guys I’ll maintain this depth all the way through. Just wait til you see the post hoc modelling on performance!

Also, Kai has a way with words dripping sarcasm. His opinions are… Arbitrary, but at least when it comes to driving consider it the extreme TL;DR.


#139

This is great, cant wait till Kai gets a hold of mine, assuming he figures out that the only thing sporty looking on it is the car next to it.


#140

Gryphon Gear Market Research

(Part Two)


I’ve decided that since I hit the character limit after about five reviews or so, every five reviews I write, I’ll post.

Also, how many people here are interested in me “reoptimising” their cars to what I think they intend to do? (Some of them are already optimised and others are far outside my specialty, so I can’t really do anything to them, but for the rest…)


@TheElt

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First Impressions- Strop

Somebody had to do it. And so here it was, a people mover. Inside is a cut above, sacrificing a couple of seats for extra cargo space (at least in this spec), in suitably plush trim. Outside, with the aerodynamic package, this thing looked aggressive in a faintly ridiculous manner, halfway between “Renault Espace F1”, and “some family guy must be having a serious crisis.” But actually, no, it’s all legit, from a wing that actually moves and flaps and all kinds of aero tricks you should find on serious sports cars. But can this be a seriously sporty people mover? On paper it has all the same credentials as, say, the really upmarket SUVs that make certain car companies a lot of money while obliterating the average IQ of vehicle buyers. It’s just this, in people mover form. So being more utilitarian than those, is it a lesser sin, or is this worse as a cynical market exercise?

First Impressions- Kai

What? Why??? It better be hilarious or I’m “accidentally” driving it off a cliff.

Driven Civilly

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Goodness gracious, is it loud in here. Not race car ear shattering loud, but you can hear all the over and undertones and all the tones in between in the engine note as it rumbles and whistles and pops. 4.3L of V8 with twin turbo, like they don’t really make them anymore. But it’s actually kind of hard to think in here, much less hear the radio. Maybe that’s why BM didn’t really bother too hard with that part. The nicest thing are the seats, in fact, which is a relief considering that like many of these aspiring sportmobiles, the tall first and the DCT does make for a bit of a jerky takeoff. Once moving however, and with some ear plugs in place, it wasn’t at all bad. Five seats is always easy for Kai sized people (hey!), but a bit squeezy for Strop sized people, and even more so ‘average American’ (which also means average Australian, and average Brit). On the other hand, it was worth noting that as far as people movers go, this one was actually more modestly sized and some attention had been paid to lightness of construction, so it was hardly as hefty as some of the vehicles it commonly shared the road with. Thanks to the severe boost capacity of the turbos, during normal town driving one started off with about 280Nm, which isn’t particularly sprightly, but certainly ok for getting the kids to school. Once you drop them off, however, just drop a couple of gears and feel the POWA OF BOOSCHT… at least you’ll definitely smoke all those motherfuckers in their Toorak tractors before you get pulled over for being a menace to society.

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

I wasn’t sure what to expect. 533hp is a lot, but so is 1743kg. On the plus side it’s AWD and has all the driving aids to keep it under control. Then on the other hand it also has these unusually small and narrow 215 wide tyres, whereas the kind of vehicles in this class seem to be sporting at least 265 if not 285s. The other thing I noticed was a lack of adjustable suspension, where, again, most vehicles in this performance class (I am extrapolating here), do seem to have active suspension modes because you have your “take the kids to school” comfort mode, and then the “now I’m pretending to be a racedriver” mode. Nothing like that here, just good old-fashioned you get what you get springs. And in this case, the suspension was stuck in “take the kids to school” mode, with heaps of body roll and soaking up the bumps, and… not a whole lot of road feel. Relying on sight and the general feel of how the forces were being vaguely transmitted through my ass, at least the presence of understeer helped things become plenty more predictable. The high driving position was hardly one for proper seat-of-my-pants driving anyway, but the extra visibility was welcome considering the relative ballistic missile levels of acceleration equipped.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

Whooooo o-KAY! Maybe if I’m 40 and have five kids then.

On the track

Time to see if the active aero makes any difference. Funnily enough after the novelty of trying to whack an MPV up a B-road wore off, throwing this van into corners actually demanded a degree of respect due to the limited contact patch. Barrelling in at excessive speeds and yanking the wheel merely resulted in the car spearing straight ahead, then the ESC kicking in hard, then the body rolling to pants-staining degrees. And as much as we love finding the limits of cars, we couldn’t afford to delay the test waiting to get checked up in the hospital simply because we rolled the van. So cautious it was. That settled, we discovered this thing could comfortably keep cornering just as well at high speeds as at low speeds, again, so long as one was careful with the throttle during. In terms of overall pace, therefore, it actually held its own against the more urbane, plush offerings on the lineup. Which would be pretty darn hilarious seeing that on a track, so maybe in that sense it acquitted itself. In Australia the culture for this oddity virtually doesn’t exist, but this would definitely be something that could get featured on “Things you see driving around the Nurburgring” compilations.

Pros

  • Much utility, so practical
  • Surprisingly drivable for a cliff of BOOSCHT twin turbo
  • Surprisingly comfortable for ditto

Cons

  • It may be ‘not inconvenient’ but damn son is the maintenance bill expensive
  • Hardcore sports car level of engine noise
  • Drivable because during daily driving most of it is done off boost which is useless
  • Needs to make up its mind a bit more about whether to go for the sporty feel or the comfy with a big engine feel

What Real Car is this like?

It’s like a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S was given the Honda Odyssey treatment. Or the other way around.

How much would it sell for in the real world?

Knowing the perverse laws of the auto market, probably around 120000

Verdict

As sickening as it is to say this, with a bit of tuning and tweaking, this could be transformed into something that technically challenges existing high-end sport SUVs.


@Vri404

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First Impressions- Strop

This is a real budget sports car which goes back to the real philosophical roots of budget sports: simple, lightweight, focused. From the design to the interior there is nothing superfluous about it, with the notable exception of the pop-out spoiler capable of generating a surprising amount of downforce at speed. And the hilariously expensive set of carbon fiber brake pads and wheels. Otherwise, the rest of it is suitably minimalistic: simple round headlights, a strip for the tail, unpretentious monocoque body, simple seats and just the knobs and dials and definitely no superfluous creature comforts, just what it takes to drive it. Just looking at it, this is a car that proves that even, maybe especially in the modern day, you don’t need complex to have purpose or presence, and that’ll definitely win it fans. I know I’m in love with the idea.

First Impressions- Kai

Mooom, why is the kitty-kat wearing braces!?

Driven Civilly

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The only point to driving the Rizun on the road, is to get to somewhere you’re going to properly wring it out. The moment you start the engine, the buzzy rasp of the i3 alerts your senses, and you notice the vibration from the lopey idle. It’s pretty rough, and the ride doesn’t get any gentler when you actually set off. The only way to get ventilation is by sliding the little inset window (since when did these stop being a thing?) because there’s no mechanism to wind the windows. Mercifully, the suspension is actually tuned to take bumps, though the ride is still a rather low one and care must be taken not to scrape humps and kerbs. Also be wary of the relatively wide front tyres (for the weight distribution, that is), for when it hits grooves, it tends to tram-line a bit. You’ll be hard pressed to accelerate smoothly, with one of the twitchiest and most direct throttles on display, but on the other hand, that’s precisely what makes it so good a sports car. It helps that the manual ratios are reasonably spaced. Also, for such a light car, forget trying to be frugal or practical or any other sensible considerations. You’ll have room for maybe a toolbox. Do bring extra gas money, though!

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

Time to shine, I thought. The performance of the Rizun is snappy, certainly enough to make it felt in the low range. This isn’t the big grunt and shove of larger engines, but it makes up for it with a certain nimbleness. Go hard and fast, then at the last minute, stab the brakes hard (you’ll be thankful for the carbon pads here), feather the balance through the corner and pile it on coming out. Unlike the Exsilio this does come with power-steering, but everything else is raw and raucous. For budget performance the fun factor is huge. It also strikes a great balance between grippy cornering and giving a hint of leeway to forewarn the mere mortals of impending loss of grip. It’s among the slower performers in the group (slower than a damn people mover!), but in terms of out and out adrenaline fun, it’s right up there at the top on a road like this.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

SHE’LL BE COMIN’ ROUND THE MOUNTAIN WHEN SHE COOOOOOMES, SHE’LL BE COMIN’ ROUND THE MOUNTAIN WHEN SHE GETS MORE POWAAAAAAAAAA…

On the track

All the skepticism and hangups had about the active wing detracting from the philosophy of simple fun vanished when the Rizun’s secret weapon came out: disconcertingly strong high speed cornering. It didn’t quite have the razor-sharp engineered focus of the Armada, but that was part of the charm. As predictable as it was struggling to keep up on the straights and at high speed, it still pounced on and thoroughly mauled several more powerful offerings, and gave a good fight to the more powerful, upmarket Exsilio. You could feel like Ricciardo, shaming superior rivals by outbraking them with best-in-class stopping performance, or slipping past on the inside on the Thunderdome banking despite being down on power and leaving them reeling: “HOW!?” The one thing to watch out for was on the hardest of cornering, sometimes the springs hit the bump stops, not enough to actually unsettle the car, but it was an odd and not particularly pleasant feeling when driving at the limit.

Pros

  • Surprising performance in surprising places
  • Budget pick in nearly every way
  • Dedicated to being sporty
  • Good handling, great brakes

Cons

  • The i3 is so rough that sitting in the car for too long will give your butt RSI
  • Feels just as cheap as it is
  • Superfluous carbon parts artificially inflate the price
  • To daily would definitely be a fresh new hell

What Real Car is this like?

A 3 cylinder entry-spec Lotus Elise

How much would it sell for in the real world?

27000, less without the CF

Verdict

Ditch the carbon parts and your production quota will have a 3 year waiting list populated by “real car” fanboys.


@one85db

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First Impressions- Strop

The 80s called, they want Giugiaro back. This was far from a bad first impression, with the odd bubble shape complemented by retro science fiction lights. It looked more concept than production at this stage, and I knew nothing about the company, so just had to take it at face value. Duck inside however, and it started feeling more unfinished than anything. It seems that the company had just enough time to put the car together to make it work, and that was about it, for there was literally nothing in the cabin. For a mid-engined AWD car with a 4L V8, where one has to go up against certain industry standards, this seemed amiss.

First Impressions- Kai

I henceforth dub thee Ladybug

Driven Civilly

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The impressions of a vehicle unfinished were amplified a thousand fold while struggling to get this thing to its tests. Struggling is not strong enough a word, for the first unpleasant surprise was a lack of powersteering, which can be fine, except not so much in an AWD 1500kg car. That’s just making things needlessly difficult. The DCT gearbox had a very tall first ratio and made for rather clunky transitions from starting and stopping. The dual turbos spooled at nearly 4000rpm, and with it came a cliff of torque which was rather not amenable to daily driving. As the day heated up so did the cabin and there was no A/C. The tyres were all very wide, but disturbingly, the front ones just as wide as the rear, and 295 at that, leading to a disconcerting amount of tramlining and wobble in the corners. And the bumps, oh my god, the bumps. I couldn’t even be sure there was suspension if I hadn’t looked, it was that rock hard. I think I sprained my back just driving to Humevale, and that wasn’t even driving hard yet.

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

I’ll be honest, I was genuinely scared. It may be AWD and took off like a rocket, but it was hard work holding onto the steering wheel let alone make it turn. Once I had fully committed to gripping the wheel like my life depended on it (because it literally did), it was pants-wettingly fast. Every movement mattered. It was absolutely crucial to keep in the powerband, because there was no traction control and therefore no way to mitigate the 4000rpm cliff of torque. The thick tyres and the big brakes pulled this hefty contraption up unbelievably quick, and, thank god for life’s mercies, the beginnings of tank slappers that would have had me soil myself shortly before being crushed into a ball of shrapnel were tucked away by the E-diff. Speaking of which, the handling was the scariest part. The suspension being too stiff but also so low the wheels repeatedly whacked the bump stops, the front end jittered and skittered and the rear kicked out and kicked hard, taking every ounce of concentration not to overcook it. E-diff or not, it was not confidence inspiring in the least. This wasn’t fun, it was dancing with death.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

NANI!? KANSEI DORIFTO!!

On the track

Mercifully, the cornering, erm, difficulties encountered on the tight twisty technical turns were not replicated at high speed. If they had been, we would have been in the obituary section of the news, and not writing this report. The active wing does its job and then some, giving supercar levels of grip and high speed handling not touched by any of the other cars here. Allowed to stretch its legs, it dominated with impunity, using its high downforce setting to pass even the ridiculously overpowered GBF Bellua on the inside and just barely hold it off to the line. Possibly the fastest car here.

Pros

  • It’s… fast?
  • Has lots of cargo room for your first aid kit, or a crate of hard liquor

Cons

  • Everything else
  • It makes no sense as a product

What Real Car is this like?

A stripped GT-R Nismo with sharp spikes that stab you in the knee every time you do anything

How much would it sell for in the real world?

~200000, but it wouldn’t sell well after the first few idiots tore their arms off trying to turn the first corner

Verdict

For a select proportion of the population with oversized balls and wallets, otherwise known as Future Darwin Award Winners.


EDIT: so apparently even 5 reviews is too much for the post. Fuck it, I’m doing 4 a day then! (But I have 5 so today it’s… 5)


#141

@phale

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Car -172
Car -173

First Impressions- Strop

Ah, the famed Adenine Misty, no longer in production for some years, but revived in kit-car form. Outwardly, not much has changed, actually nothing at all really. It’s the same miniature sports coupe with the snub nose and the short wheelbase that is lightweight and very chuckable. Except, wait, what’s this, this edition comes with a hefty V6 that belongs in a family sedan? Interesting. And it has proper seats and a radio? And modern suspension? And a high-downforce package? Well sprinkle gold dust on me and call me a fairy this sounds a bit wrong, I’m not even sure what it means, I’m not sure what to think anymore. What I do know is that Adenine are all about making the most competent at everything out of whatever they put their minds to, so it’s up to us to discover that it really wanted to do.

First Impressions- Kai

And this one I dub the Christmas Beetle!

Driven Civilly

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It is clear from the outset that this version of the Misty is designed to be easy to live with where it counts on day-to-day road driving. Sure, the ride is maybe a bit firm for an Australian road with its many irregularities and rough surfaces, and the seven speed row-your-own with the typically tall first was met with mostly bemusement from the incompetent driver, but everything else not to do with the art of driving fun passes muster. The seats are bolstered just that little extra for comfort. There’s AC and some basic connectivity (but no Bluetooth or rear parking camera, that would be too much). The modern suspension does keep the extra fuss at the wheels. They’re all the unobtrusive necessities so you can focus on enjoying the driving bit. And boy is it enjoyable, a fantastic combination of fun without being too much of a handful. The steering is light and direct, and so is the throttle. Final drive isn’t so tall as to be overdrive but it’s still tall enough that cruising along the highway in 7th isn’t a huge effort. Yes, all the basic amenities means that this is the heaviest Misty by a margin, but it’s still light by modern car standards, light and punchy so you can get your thrills in the 270 degree ramps or in the car park or off the lights or anywhere you want. If I had to explain the downside to the sheer convenience of this, it’s that it comes at the expense of this nebulous concept afficionados like to call soul. I mean, this is coming from a company that names itself after an amino acid, so you can expect they might imagine internal combustion to be the component exothermic reactions that convert thermal energy to kinetic energy, as opposed to the thundering explosions that powers the heart of your roadgoing beastee. Something like that.

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

I expected great things from this car, and it delivered. At once both predictable but sharp, this was the ideal platform where I could actually just push it all the way to the limit and just know when it might become too much. And the balance! There was virtually zero understeer right to the edge of the grip, at which point the warning lights would flash and the driver aids would step in. Even with all the blind corners and rough conditions, the Misty felt unusually safe, encouraging me to brake late with top class stopping power, and get on the throttle early with the mechanical LSD. Few sports cars in this price range would be so well suited to grip racing, at least, not where you could push the car this hard under all conditions. That was just how well balanced everything was.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

Like driving on rails. I tried, but I can’t get it loose without actually killing myself.

On the track

We predicted that this car would be a fine match for an entirely different proposition, the Fore Eagle GTi. In just about no way did they resemble each other, yet somehow they were almost stablemates in terms of performance. The Misty’s advantage was in its dedicated layout, lower weight, greater power, and superior balance. The Fore had some high speed madness up its sleeve. Off the line, the Misty pulled ahead easily. Around the slower corners, it was neck and neck. But get onto the Thunderdome, and that was where the Misty was vulnerable: by virtue of its high downforce aero pack, the moment one shifted to sixth, at around 220km/h, all the wind went out of the sails. It really killed the top end, and suddenly the Fore was directly back onto the Misty’s rear bumper, where it stayed, for the entirety of the remainder of the hot lap. I know which one I’d back in poorer conditions, but this was a striking comparison. As far as the modern production daily track day weapon went, this was the new generation and it would take serious efforts to beat them at this price point.

Pros

  • Superbly balanced for fun everywhere
  • Quite liveable
  • It has a decent boot!

Cons

  • Downforce package a bit more aggressive than the car can take advantage of
  • It may lack… soul???

What Real Car is this like?

What a modern MR2 Mk3 should be

How much would it sell for in the real world?

~37000, if only companies would start making reasonable MR sports cars again

Verdict

The quintessential modern two seater sports car for the regular enthusiast who loves fast and doesn’t need insane. It’s more real sports car than the non-kit version.

@ramthecowy

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First Impressions- Strop

Cavallera making a hot hatch? It can’t be- but then again it can and they’ve done it before (a long time before) and here it is. Though I am told that this isn’t even its final form. What it is, currently, is an FR hot hatch in a similar vein to the Conan, except with a touch on the large side i4 with a touch on the large side turbo (borrowed from a stablemate), proportionally larger than the Fore Eagle GTi. Proportionally, therefore, it makes that much more power, 425hp, which is well past any territory plumbed by the hot hatch up to now, as well as a production i4. Cavallera knows this and packaged accordingly, it seemed, from the taught sport interior with the deep buckets, the prominently marked interface including launch contro, the hefty brakes with sporty pads and four pistons up front, to the trick aero package, definitely a common feature among this increasingly sophisticated bunch. The rear wing is placed rather oddly, for a hatch, somewhat obscuring the rearward visibility, yet this is always a conundrum for the true hatch. As for the rest of the styling, it’s aggressive, easily on par with the Armada, perhaps a little more so even with the engineered vortex generators and the massive cut out ventilation. Float that power figure, flash this photo, whisper rear wheel drive, and several punters will reflexively reach for their chequebooks.

First Impressions- Kai

Frown at me like that, I’ll drive you angry. You’d like that, wouldn’t you.

Driven Civilly

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The seats are snug and the trim definitely on the edgy side of sporty, but it’s actually not half bad, not difficult to get settled in under ordinary conditions. Maybe it’s because the tyres are just slightly higher profile (and made a bit less noise than we expected given their width), maybe it’s because the suspension is softer than expected. One should not forget to treat the gas pedal with the respect it deserves, however, because there’s a sizeable difference between off-boost and on boost, going from Bruce Banner to The Hulk (maybe this is a slight exaggeration considering the cars tested today) just shy of 4k. The things you have to do to a 4 pot to make ridiculous amonts of power (something that might hinder reliability later, one may suspect). A good stomp without launch control at the lights resulted in the rears lighting up and nearly overwhelming the TC. Thank goodness for the LSD. And, in this case, having the DCT was actually a good thing for everyday use. This aside, several comparisons were already being drawn with the Conan S47, for aside from the powerplant, they ended up following a similar philosophy, but with some crucial differences.

Driven Hard




On the Hillclimb- Strop

The Kunai RS may not be the lightest contender, but it still does a good job of inviting one to really give it a good wringing and see what it can do. It’s best not to even think of this as a hot hatch, because it’s RWD, but on the other hand, it has all the modern tricks and bells and whistles that keep it on par with the fastest of the questionably defined ‘hot hatches’ in what can only be described as the new muscle arena of the decade. Boy is it fast, by the time you understand the speed you’re actually doing you have to stab the brakes hard, which is fine, since the brake feel is always confident, if a tad rear biased (which is fine by me). The ride may be slightly soft and a bit roly-poly, but the steering is still tight and well sorted, and pushing the throttle too early can result in a little bit of oversteer dynamic, just like a real FR sports car should. It’s certainly not a hardcore track machine, but it does a good job of using modern technology to deliver the good bits, and mitigate the bad bits. The ratios are all closely spaced, so at speed, your fingers will be kept busy, though not as frenetic as if you were rowing-your-own.

On the Hillclimb- Kai

See, I knew you’d like it! I’m gonna punish you good and proper.

On the track

Once again, a powerful car gets its wings trimmed by the ridiculous amounts of drag it generates. As aero specialists, GG are firm believers in appropriate amounts of downforce for the speed… and appropriate may mean many things, but the car is only as fast as it has power to take advantage of the speeds made possible by the downforce. Here was another example of a car that could take fast corners faster than it could the slow ones, only to hit the magic 200km/h barrier and run out of puff. That’s not something that should happen with 425bhp on tap! Rant aside, the Cavallera shared a balance of strengths at Calder just as it did in Humevale. It mixed it up with the likes of the Adenine and the Armada, making up for its slightly softer focus with its brutal acceleration. Where it lost out in the corners and having to brake slightly earlier, sinking the boot in had it right back on their tails. And, of course, it cannot be emphasised enough that the rear wheel drive factor is stronk here, for the other two drive like slot cars, and this one allows you to get loose, get sideways in a package with power that generally belongs to the bigger sedans, but in a far snappier, tighter chassis. You may not win the race, but you’ll feel like a winner.

Pros

  • RWD acceleration
  • RWD dynamics
  • RWD fun
  • more power than you can poke a stick at
  • facile but snappy handler
  • more comfy than it appears

Cons

  • overall comes at the expense of some reliability
  • bit of a turbo boost cliff
  • not that economical
  • aero keeps it grounded. Too grounded, let it fly!

What Real Car is this like?

More 135i than AMG45, but with much more power than both.

How much would it sell for in the real world?

~50000

Verdict

If this is how Cavallera does sport, then car makers are stupid to give up on the RWD hatch.


#142

I was aiming at a utilitarian/off road toy similar to the Jeep Trackhawk with the capability and price of a Rubicon. I think I am pretty much there.

edit: though a change of tires and rims would do wonders on the track