It’s pretty hard getting things done while constantly on the move! I’m back now, which means we can get this thing done:
Stage 5: Hillclimb
You’d think punting a car up a hill takes a lot of power. It does. But when the road is very uneven, has some bumpy sections and the whole thing is dangerously narrow, it also requires a lot of agility and nimbleness. I’d expect the more powerful cars to not have a huge advantage. It all comes down to just how much control one has over the speed.
Perenial underperformers as a class, the foibles of the cars with this drivetrain continued. This is hardly surprising and actually not so much an indictment of the cars (although I do also note that most of the unbalanced cars came from this class), because they also happened to be the mostly light less powerful ones with no LSD too.
JANXOL – 1982 Cyanide Motors 1982 Terrier - S1
If the twitchy handling was a bit exposed previously, the rough and uneven roads of Italy cracked it wide open. There just felt like there was very little leeway between “doesn’t want to rotate” and “wants to spin out”. I think this is because of high spring rates, if I recall correctly, and what feels like an overly lively rear. Every bump jostled the car and threatened to send it out of joint. And yes, can confirm, the brakes are a bit too rear-biased!
Fuel Economy: 12.9L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 165.45hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 176.547
stm316 – 1985 G&W Stamford 85
Take a quick survey with its counterparts at the bottom of the power ladder and it’s fairly clear where it stands in the order: it doesn’t have nearly as much driving traction as the TX7, it’s heavier than the Iserim and the Ishu Astrion, but it was much more dyanmically focused than the Petrov. This is one case where even if the lack of an LSD was felt here I don’t think it would have been cost-effective to install one.
Fuel Economy: 13.2L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 139.15hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 178.959
NiuYorqCiti – 1989 Ponni Pistero - RS
This track confirms everything that I’ve said before with the utmost clarity: in fact it wouldn’t be half bad a car and NYC has suffered terribly but for one fundamental issue: a crippling lack of traction. Everything else looked great on the Automation charts but for that the limit of the car’s grip was extraordinarily low. In this case I simply stuck it in 3rd and left it there because first and second were a screechy, squirrelly mess that did nothing but generate lots of smoke.
Fuel Economy: 10L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 226.94hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 183.918
SideswipeBL – 1992 Toreer Sommet 250S
Not fast, no, but responsive yes. As predicted the low ride height and suspension shenanigans meant the car really bounced and the springs did some strange things when going over the cobblestone sections and hitting other bumps. If those were navigated with due caution then I was fairly able to give it the beans for most of the rest.
Fuel Economy: 10L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 150.39hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 174.114
racer126 – 1994 Geschenk Gato
It may not be the fastest of the FR cars, but it’s one of the more entertaining for how forgiving it is even in rough conditions. There was even scope for some flambouyance while tossing it up this godforsaken hill!
Fuel Economy: 9.5L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 163.54hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 174.075
Jaimz – 1995 FM Cerberus Track
Well the cobblestones weren’t as bad for the ride as I feared. What they did do was, just like every other little imperfection and undulation in the road, dramatically alter my contact patch with the road such that the car responded wildly differently to throttle and steering input. That’s to be expected: conventional tuning wisdom states the stiffer the suspension the less traction you’ll have over bumps. This said the control of the car itself is so good that I was able to compensate for this by driving smoothly.
Fuel Economy: 10.8L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 175.54hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 168.131
JohnWaldock – 1995 JHW Lynx S5
I know with rear wheels driven, super tall gearing and not much traction this was going to be pretty hairy and I was right. But forwarned is forearmed and so with good throttle discipline I was at least able to keep it mostly neat and tidy, with a little room for the tail to skip out. It’s hardly fast, in fact, one of the slowest, and that comes as precisely zero surprise.
Fuel Economy: 8.2L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 190.57hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 178.715
yurimacs – 1997 Bradford Vector R
Just never apply more gas than necessary for too long and you should be just fine, right? Right! Maybe it’s because I was already very cautious of the balance of this car that it seemed more intuitive what to do. There was a lot of slipping and sliding so I’m sure the time isn’t very quick, but I guess I was already expecting that.
Fuel Economy: 8.7L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 181.99hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 170.807
Mad_Cat – 1998 Petrov Ferro Coupe
In yet another milestone for this amazingly mediocre shitbox, I think this may have been the only car that almost overheated the brakes on an uphill race!
Fuel Economy: 10.6L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 134.98hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 181.869
MAX_POWER – 1998 Kettenblitz 950QD
In this map where power application is key, the difference in time between here and Mount Glorious is quite telling: it implies the handling is excellent (it really is), but there’s limited traction on turning which means the inside wheel is extremely prone to spinning and since it’s an open diff there’s virtually no power going to the driving wheel. That necessitates a lot of caution on a rough track because the power delivery becomes very uneven and makes the handling slightly unpredictable, so I just had to go very easy on the throttle in general. What was the rear sway bar setting again?
Fuel Economy: 6.7L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 166.39hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 174.255
Compared to my reference car:
1995 Matteo Miglia Excelsior Rosso Corsa
If I recall correctly this was the version that didn’t have a limited slip diff. Well, it should have had one! The amount of one-wheel peel was ridiculous and that’s probably why despite having such good times elsewhere it was pretty let down here.
Fuel Economy: 10.3L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 169.2hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 166.543
I’m going to skip the tables this time and go straight for the big one, as that will be more useful overall.
If there was a time FF would truly struggle, it should be the uphill, right? With the weight shifting to the rear under acceleration exacerbated by the gradient, traction and purchase with the driving wheels would be further compromised, which means there’s even less power to play with in reality. The only way to compensate for that is with lots of traction and maneuverability under braking, which, fortunately, is something required in absolute spades on this course.
Mikonp7 – 1986 Haapala CupSport Streetlegal
It is a shame I didn’t record the replay. On the final stretch I actually clipped a rock (due to a certain over-eagerness which I’ll discuss later). The car did a perfect barrel roll and landed upright, upon which I floored it and continued to the finish line. If not for that the time would probably be a good second faster, but such a badass move should not go unmentioned. Why was I pushing too hard? Because this car has more control than it does power! It just encouraged me to do more and more and find the limits… but I frequently ran into understeer issues as a result.
Fuel Economy: 13.8L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 190.93hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 164.63 which was actually well over a second slower than the entry before it, so I didn’t feel too bad about losing time as it didn’t affect position
Ornate – 1991 Akuna Sprinter HF
Given the front sway bars, the response was very slow which also meant that it didn’t mind the bumps all that much. I just had to make sure that I didn’t try to change direction too quickly and it was mostly fine, aside from the very annoying problem of yawning gap in power between gears.
Fuel Economy: 5.7L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 182.14hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 164.709
Aaron.W – 1992 Tanaka Aventis (4th Gen) - 2.0 TR (3DR)
I was expecting more trouble from the rear sway bars. But then again the driving wheels themselves are very well set up, so it was mitigated. There was certain some odd hiccup or two in the sharpest of the hairpins, otherwise in this I was able to tackle the course with a far greater confidence than most so despite being down on power it’s one of the fastest.
Fuel Economy: 9L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 169.58hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 161.544
conan – 1992 Mitsushita Jesta Baleno TCS
Twitchy as hell, especially with the solid rear axle and stiff rear sway bars, which had me nervous given the rear tailgate was liable to clip any of the bollards just to the side of the narrow roads. But it remains also one of the most controllable cars in the lineup and so despite a little sideways jiggle in the alleyways, I was able to keep it on the narrow without too much trouble. The limited traction under power demanded caution on the throttle but a preemptive dab of left foot brake deftly corrected any problems as always.
Fuel Economy: 8.8L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 182.68hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 163.364
Xepy – 1992 Kuma SU Si Coupe (2+2)
Respect the limited turning circle of this car and everything will be okay!
Fuel Economy: 11.3L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 184.08hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 170.776
Centurion_23 – 1994 Jade-Gemin GLX
Pretty good actually. The lack of power was mitigated by the rest of the package being pretty well balanced and in this case the high profile of the tyres actually helped smooth out a lot of the bumps and travel over kerbs, which gave it an unlikely edge.
Fuel Economy: 7.8L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 152.56hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 172.607
Traviq_125 – 1994 Iserim Sol
Moral of the story: as long as it’s not going downhill, the Sol seems to drive okay for a slow car!
Fuel Economy: 8.3L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 135.55hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 176.57
Madrias – 2000 Ishu Astrion 700T
Lacking in power means a lot of gas and a lot of gas means a lot of left foot brake dabbing to limit the understeer from slippage. There are other FWD cars that aren’t as badly affected by this which contributes to how it feels a bit slower than it should. But you should see just how far this is up the table for such little power!
Fuel Economy: 6.9L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 133.6hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 170.294
Compared to my reference car:
1991 Armada Motors Fore Gen.II Eagle GTi
I’ll be extremely impressed if anything can beat this time. Anything at all. What an absolute freak of a car.
Fuel Economy: 7.5L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 200.4hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 155.699 waddafak men
Would it surprise you if I said that despite the difficulties faced by the generally larger AWD cars they were still top of the table? But of course they should be, the big power was also married to big traction!
GassTiresandOil – 1988 Armor Cricket GT4
Where this car was previously the proverbial dancer here it felt more like a clodding in-fighter. Resistant to rotate, prone to understeer, needing a gentle and early application of the brakes. This was the one track where the car actually felt larger than it really was. What a surprise!
Fuel Economy: 11L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 216.52hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 160.285
gridghost – 1995 Scarab Nova GT-X26
Note to self: big cars with lots of power are tricky on tight technical roads. This big sedan, one of the heaviest and largest, felt rather out of place on the tight roads of the Italian hillside. The surefooted handling on the open track only partially translates to the B-road. It was necessary to dial the pace back a few notches to avoid overdoing it and bouncing off a kerb into a fire hydrant. The time is more a testament to its sheer pace, but I do note that it’s not much faster than cars with significantly less power… yet since this is the uphill portion it would make sense that it still carried a significant advantage.
Fuel Economy: 10.4L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 244.01hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 157.045
NeO – 1995 Kitanishi Fleuris SP2000
I am confident that I managed to get at least 99% out of this car. Despite being on the larger side it never felt particularly claustrophobic, and telegraphed its limits well. It may not be the absolute fastest around but the confidence that I had means that it’d perform consistently well.
Fuel Economy: 9L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 218.18hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 158.774
brunator – 1999 BCT T1001S 525TS
It started out not too bad because of the compact size. Granted the lack of traction made it a bit harder but with a bit of care it was navigating things okay. But push just a little too hard and the car would pitch to the side and the lack of traction would cause serious delay in response which was fatal in the plentiful sharp S bends. If I was a cat I’d still be dead, but on the plus side, well above last place for once!
Fuel Economy: 9.7L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 283.34hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 173.337
ELBruno – 2000 Marquez CDD SWS 270i6
This is down on power and heavier than the other AWD cars but it actually felt the nicest of the lot to drive, perhaps because it was so predictable and facile. The softness that held it back on an all-out track test lent itself well to floating over all the imperfections and the front-bias of the drivetrain allowed it to power through everything while even nosing in. Nobody would expect a big wagon like this to handle like a much smaller car!
Fuel Economy: 11.2L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 210.56hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 160.787
Obfuscious – 2000 Rocinante
If small and punchy was going to win the day I had a surprise coming here. I just couldn’t quite match the sheer power of the Scarab Nova, but it wasn’t the power that was the issue. It was actually the weight distribution: despite everything this car is remarkably resistant to rotating when braking or accelerating unless one gives it a damn good clutch kick out of a hairpin (then it’s liable to spin out). Also the wheels are tiny and thus it was disproportionately jostled by the bumps of the Italian road. Just couldn’t quite soak up all that instability and was a bit too tight to rotate, and that made all the difference.
Fuel Economy: 13.2L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 257.23hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 157.439
A tricky drivetrain for this application, but a romantic one when conjuring up the racing and rally heroes of yesteryear. Can it live up to hype, or with so few examples, will it be hard to find the one that finds the sweet spot?
PugeHenis – 1983 Stelvio O-56
You know how this was the worst offender when it came to giant gaps in power when shifting up? Yeah. This. I really didn’t know what gear to pick as I would literally LOSE SPEED if I shifted into third in some sections. So now you know, don’t make engines like that.
Fuel Economy: 12.6L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 197.02hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 175.592
Lava_Cake – 1987 TX7 B6
Easy enough to drive. It HATES the hairpins though: I had to take them extra slow because the front wheel threatened to lift off and that actually sharply limited the turning circle. This comes as precisely no surprise, of course.
Comfort: 15.9 sew fanceh
Fuel Economy: 11.9L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 137.13hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 173.058
DoctorNarfy – 1991 Shromet Interval GTS
Sublime smoothness was barely ruffled by even the worst of tracks. The main caution here (for once not the brakes, though they very nearly did overheat), was given its considerable bulk and neutral handling, care had to be taken on some of the slower corners in the second half. And of course, given the ride height, some awkward things happaned with the suepension geometry in the biggest of the dips which delayed me getting back on the throttle after several hair pins.
Fuel Economy: 12.5L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 214hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 161.547
CC9020 – 1992 Fuji RMS GTR Homologation
This may very well be the worst of the lowriders. I was getting air over some of those bumps.
Fuel Economy: 8.8L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 176.96hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 167.878
And compared to my reference car:
1983 Matteo Miglia Legatus
That’s a handful. The razor-sharp handling has very little give and so it was actually harder to find a proper purchase on the roads than one might have figured. A lot of crashing was done. In the end I dialled it back about 5% just to get it finished.
Fuel Economy: 13.1L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 223hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 162.272
Heaven or Hell, Let’s Rock!
Lordred – 1981 Pulsar Defiant
This was the best of several attempts which invariably included a spin, because it was simply too difficult to brake evenly on an uneven surface without completely going off the attack. If not for braking the Pulsar would have performend quite a successful French invasion of Italy, as this was the one venue where the soft front didn’t make the handling unduly difficult.
Fuel Economy: 13.9L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 217.38hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 170.932
Dorifto_Dorito – 1987 Nohda Strato (82) Super Strato Turbo (87)
Zero margin for error. Flips out on the most miniscule of provocations. No way of saving oneself. This is THE most unforgiving car of the entire lineup and it was only through dialing it back to about 70% in some segments that I was able to get it to the finish line.
Fuel Economy: 12L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 214.67hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 170.839
AirJordan – 2000 Smooth Notsomuch
The temptation to let the butt do the work in the corners was high but Italy has unforgiving bumpy narrow roads. Even the softer ride of the Smooth was not enough to temper the beast, and so a more conservative approach was necessary.
Fuel Economy: 6L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 193.41hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 161.867
Compared with my reference car:
1985 Polski Bomba Street
Wew. It may not be the most cost-effective, power to weight wise, but it gets the job done brutally effective. After all, what does it matter if one has to go 70% over the bumpy sections when it’s so damn potent?
Fuel Economy: 8.6L/100km
Power:weight ratio: 245.7hp:ton
Hillclimb Time: 159.902
In a table, then: