What’s best for a modern american life? SUV, MPV or a Wagon?
**A**s some of you know, America loves big vehicles. From big sedans, to big SUVs, to big trucks, you name it. As to why there is not clear answer, after all, the bigger the car, the more fuel it needs and the more cumbersome it is. However after a quick research it seems Americans buy these types of cars for 4 key reasons. They want:
- Snow drivability
- Off road/outdoor capabilities
And here we have 3 very different vehicles representing each a specific niche, and we’ll see which is better suited for each test.
Our first competitor is a modern people mover from Maesima, the Levitas DTz. It came with a 2.5L in-line 4 DOHC with 236hp and 258ft-lbs. Although it might seem like a traditional MPV, this is actually quite special. Maesima is one of the few car manufacturers still producing high revving NA engines, and the one in the Levitas is not an exception.
The second competitor is a traditional SUV, from Germany; we have the Monolith M-X. When we asked for a SUV to review, Monolith send us a specimen of each trim, and although we we’re thinking in comparing the top of the line (M-X 400T) when we saw a diesel, we couldn’t help ourselves and we took that one, to spice things up. The M-X 425D comes with a traditional L6 turbodiesel engine, with 365hp and a huge 573lb-ft of torque. I’m still humming the sound of that beautiful engine.
And at last but not least, the Auxuras Q-TL SpectaL. This represents the almost extinct wagon segment. This was the last model before the line of auxuras’ QTs were axed from the market. The main characteristic is the hybrid system pushing 355hp combined from a 3.5L SOHC V6 and an electric motor, paired to a 7 speed DSC transmission.
For the tests, let’s fly over to Denver Colorado, in the US, to test which car fulfills the specific 4 requirements people want in these types of cars. For the first test, let’s go to some snowy place.
TEST #1 – Snow drag race.
Many people think in buying big SUVs or simply AWD cars because they think they offer a better snow drivability. The truth is they don’t. They key factor are the tires, not the drive train layout, a FWD car with snow tires will handle better than a AWD with all season tires. However, people still thinks that when buying an AWD you don’t need winter tires. So the first test will be with the stock tires, to simulate the usual condition must buyers will face.
Since we’ll be using stock tires, breaking distances and cornering capabilities will be rubbish in every car, so there is only one thing to test… acceleration. And for that, what better than a snow drag race!
The rules are simply, each car will start in 3rd gear and it will accelerate to point just before the wheel start to spin, then it will maintain that speed and cross the line. Since all the cars uses the same tires (medium) the same friction coefficient was applied to all cars (off-road 0.25, hard-medium 0.2, soft-semi slicks 0.15).
[hide=How calcs were worked out]First thing is to calculate the amount of force the car can put in the ground through the driving tires without spinning with the next formula TOTAL WEIGHT x WEIGHT DRIVING AXLE x FRICTION COEFFICIENT (in Lbs). The next bit is to determined the gearing. Inside the Lua file of the trim there is a string called DIFF RATIO and is the final drive ratio. With that info, the tire diameter (miles), the engine speed at which it changes gears (Revolutions per hour) and the speed at which the car changes gears (mph) is easy to determine the gearing for each gear with the next formula:
(RPH x TIRE CIRCUMFERENCE) / FINAL DRIVE / SPEED
Next thing, to calculate the torque at wheels. Inside the LUA trim’s file there is a string called powertransmission, which I use as the total power transferred minus the drivetrain losses. Also, inside the engine’s lua file there is data for the torque curve at a given rpm. The formula goes:
((TORQUE(lbft) x POWERTRANSMISSION) x POWERSPLIT[awd only] x (FINAL DRIVE x 3GEAR RATIO)) / TIRE RADIUS[ft]
The result is given in ft.
In the case of LSD, the torque extra torque is sended to the Front axle when it hits the maximum torque for the rear axle.
After finding the right amount of torque, it’s time to calculate what speed the car will do at that RPH (RPM x 60).
(RPH x TIRE CIRCUMFERENCE [km]) / (FINAL DRIVE x 3GEAR RATIO)
The result is given in km/h.
Next, how much time and distance it will take the car to get at that speed. For this I consider a constant torque curve with no aerodynamic effect. With need the acceleration first.
TORQUE AT WHEELS [front and rear combined in AWD. In lb] / WEIGHT OF CAR [ft]. The result is in Gs.
We now convert the speed from km/h to m/s and the acceleration from Gs to m/s square. To get the time we use this:
ACCELERATION[m/s square] / SPEED [m/s].
The result is expressed in seconds.
The distance the car traveled while getting at that speed:
1/2 x (ACCELERATION x TIME SQUARE)
The result is given in meters.
We now have the distance and the time it took to get to the maximum speed it can get without wheelspining in a determined gear. Now we need how much time it takes to travel the rest of the drag race.
RESTING DISTANCE[meters] = 400m - DISTANCE TRAVELED
RESTING TIME = RESTING DISTANCE[meters] / MAX SPEED [m/s]
And finally, we just add the 2 times.
ACCELERATING TIME + RESTING TIME
Our first contester, the Maesima Levitas. Being the only FWD car it had the initial disvantage, however, more than half the weight was in the driving wheels, supporting a total of 431.94ft-lb of thrust before the wheels could spin. Since the car revved pretty high, the gearing was somewhat special as well. 3rd gear had a ratio of 1.26 (pretty standard) but the final diff was of 4.79. To get at 431ft-lb of thrust, the engine was revved up to 1,200 rpm, reaching a speed of 22.35 km/h in 5.7s at around 17.8m, doing the rest of the 382.2m of the quarter mile in 51.63s, for a total of 67.37seconds! Not a world record tho.
Next in line, the Auxuras QTL, which featured an advanced AWD-hybrid system, where the petrol engine sends power to the front wheels and the electric motor moves the rear ones. After putting the car in 3rd gear, since it had a Dual-clutch transmission, the take-off wasn’t kind with the clutch (the other 2 had automatic transmissions). The QTL had a modern close-ratio with a standard final drive (2.11 for 3rd gear and 3.36 for the final drive). Although it had a AWD system, most of the weight was in the front, but it was hard to accelerate without the rear motors spinning and stopping the wheels. At the end, the car could take off at 1,100 rpm (19.86km/h after gear reduction) in only 4 seconds, but the rest of the travel took 70.5 seconds, giving a total of 74.5 for the Auxuras.
Finally, the turn of the Monolith M-X diesel, with physical link between the front and rear axles including a LSD with an AWD system. Being the heavy vehicle with traction in all 4 wheels, it could put down up to 2652lb of thrust. Being a diesel with a low red line, the gearing was unconventional (3rd gear 3.14 and final drive 2.0). The SUV accelerated to 1,800rpm (thanks to the LSD sending power to the front, where most of the weight was) reaching 43.12km/h! That took only 6.7 seconds and a little over 40 meters, the rest of the 359ish meters took only 30 seconds, for a total time of 36.7 seconds!
So there you go, the winner was the Monolith M-X 450D, then the Levitas DTz and in last place the QTL. Now, the thing is, the QTL has a lot of power and torque at low RPMS, (even with the turbo not being fully spooled up) and along with a traditional gearing, it made it pretty hard to launch without wheel-spin. However, being put in 4th gear, it will take more time to accelerate, but it will get to a higher speed without breaking the maximum force it can withstand without spinning, and it would have been almost 30 seconds faster. However, rules are rules and all cars had to be launched in 3rd gear.
Time to go to the second location for the second test.
TEST #2: The engineer pass!
Now, most of the buyers of big vehicles seek off-road capabilities, even if they don’t ever touch a dirt road in their life. And instead of putting the cars to a small home-made off-road track as some companies do in car shows, we decided to take them to the real world, and being in Colorado it will only mean one thing, an afternoon in the Engineer pass!
Engineer Pass is a high mountain pass located in the San Juan Mountains near Ouray, Colorado. Instead of doing the full Alpine loop tour, we just did a small 5.5 km section right in the beginning of the road (CR 18).
You can download the test track here
For this test (and the off-road lap times in general) the off-road stat value will be subtracted of the full lap time (in seconds).
The score is as it follows:
- Auxuras: 4:39.31 - 26.2 = 4:13.11
- Monolith: 4:45.68 – 29.3 = 4:16.38
- Maesima: 5:09.99 – 16.7 = 4:52.29
Now we know which is faster, but an off-road journey is not about getting faster, but the overall experience. And in this case, we need to see how easy to drive are these cars in this conditions.
The Auxuras is quite sportier, with its close gear ratio dual clutch gearbox and the AWD system you feel inside a rally car. That said the handle it’s too sporty, you can’t just relax and enjoy the ride, you’ll constantly changing gears and feeling over 1G of breaking entering every corner. The suspension set-up (progressive springs, with semi-active dampers and active sway bars) is specifically set to deliver a neutral handling, so it’s not too hard or soft. Also, it was the car that took the more damage, it had more electronics, it also had the lower ride, so the front fascia was hit hard and the undertray received a lot of hits and scratches. It is capable of doing some serious off roading, especially if you want to drive like a rally driver, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
The Monolith M-X diesel was the second to test. As it was expected, it was the best suitable car for the real off road driving, it is high and it comes with hydropneumatic springs with active sway bars, which makes wonders driving in the dirt. The big SUV it’s pretty comfortable and it has power enough to move the 2 tons vehicle around and thanks to its automatic transmission you don’t have to worry about changing gears or damaging the clutch, you just go and drive around.
Finally, the DTz from Maesima. Being a simple FWD people mover, it isn’t the first choice when doing off-roading, but that doesn’t matter, as the car completed the curse in one piece. Oddly enough, it was the most comfortable and simple car to drive. Since it has an automatic transmission you don’t have to be changing gears in every corner or uphill, it actually did most of the course in 1st gear, and for the most part, you don’t have to break hard either, permitting you to actually enjoy the scenery without fearing you might crash or ended up in the bottom of the mountain.
Well, considering the car was the second in time, and the second most easy to drive, it is easier to consider the Monolith M-X the winner of this challenge, with both the Auxuras and the Maesima coming second, one for being incredible fast but really hard to maneuver and the other quite the opposite.
#Stay tuned for the second part of the review!
First off, I want to offer an apology to @Rk38, @Awildgermanappears and @Starfish94 for the delay of the review, and also an apology for the bare review and splitting it in 2 parts, but I’ve been passing for a personal rough time and being very very busy lately, but I hope to get this thread in shape in the next days and the second part of the review next weekend!