Really nice writing! Keep up the great work!
Thanks, I had less time that I wanted the last week and a bit. I’ve got four cars for larger articles lined up now though.
2002 Rocco Ruffian LT 4WD 3.5L - Retro Review 3
Car by @micz233
We are a fan of how the new Ruffian by Rocco Industries looks. This is very good looking for a first venture of a brand into this market. And with larger utility vehicles becoming more and more popular as family vehicles, it might just prove to be a good move by Rocco.
Rocco Industries used to be big on the utility market until the 80s recession caused a downscale of their production. Mainly know for heavy duty material, they are a new player on the offroad and family SUV market. A bold move from the company that is still in bad papers after a massive pullout of investors in 1999. Join The Exhaust Note to see if the Ruffian might just prove to be Rocco’s saving grace.
Styling and Utility
The Ruffian looks modern and even playful while at the same time rugged and reliable with those round lights and the interplay of metal and heavy duty plastics. Rocco really nailed the balanced between innovative and recognizable design with this offroader.
In terms of utility, the Ruffian we drove has 6 comfortable seats in three rows. This does take away some of the cargo space. We feel that in this market segment, the extra seating is of added value. That rear row can be removed, though not folded down, relatively easily. This easily doubles the cargo space available.
The Ruffian is not designed as a true-bred offroader, but it remains capable on all surfaces. This adds to its utility as a family car in cold, snowy areas; or where dirt tracks are common.
The 175 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 is not the most modern engine unit on the market, but it gives the Ruffian more power than the 2.2 four cylinder base model engine. As with most larger displacement V6 engines, it rumbles quite a bit. We didn’t find it too loud, and appreciated its responsiveness however.
The automatic gearbox works well, but the short gears can be a nuisance in daily traffic. On the highway and in general out-of-city cruising the Ruffian runs quite high in the revs. This has its impact on the engine noise and on fuel consumption.
Interior, Comfort, Safety, and Price
Safety is another reason why many families, despite living in the suburbs or even city centres, are buying utility vehicles more and more often. The well styled Ruffian will most likely appeal to this crowd, if they get around the relatively high fuel consumption (11.3 l/100km - 20.9 mpg mixed).
Comfort is decent for a vehicle in this class. The seats and interior quality are decent without being luxurious. The seats give sufficient support on long drives - where the only downside is road and engine noise.
Price is certainly a selling point for the Ruffian, with the base model starting as low as $12.300. It is quite amazing how Rocco Industries managed to keep production and development costs so low for what is in our views a quality vehicle.
Driving and conclusions
We took the Rocco Ruffian out on a very demanding offroad course, and it performed admirably for an offroader without proper 4x4 and manual lockers. The Ruffian has permanent all-wheel drive, yes. But it cannot lock the front or rear axle, and the limited slip differential is of the rather basic viscous type, which will need to be replaced after about 75000 km.
In everyday traffic the Ruffian is surprisingly mundane and comfortable, although as mentioned earlier, the gearbox does not appreciate highway cruising all that much. Our test drive that featured more than its share of it ended up with a fuel consumption of near 16.3 l/100 km (14.4 mpg), which we rank as very high.
The Ruffian has its downsides, mainly in terms of fuel economy, but with its cheap price, alluring looks and high reliability, this might be your car of choice, if you want an all-wheel driven vehicle and the fuel prices near you aren’t too high.
2020 Legore Bisango Bi-Turbo Twelve - Modern Market 5
car by @Mythrin
Legore puts the bar very high for themselves when they claim their new Bisango trim is "built with the intention of being the most opulent SUV in the world”. We had the opportunity drive one of the press cars close to the final product of this aggressive big SUV.
The Bisango Bi-Turbo Twelve is powered by a six liter twin-turbo charged V12 putting out a massive 720 horsepower and a road-churning 1300Nm of torque. Set low on its massive 23 inch wheels (285 front and 325 rear), and with only 4 proper places, this is a luxury-sports car in an SUV package. Utility and offroad capabilities rank low on Legore’s priority list.
Legore is an Italian brand that has always focused on luxury and performance. Born from the legendary Scagliati brand, a rogue offshoot as it were, its commercial history has been rickety, with only the last decade turning Legore into a serious player on the market under the ownership of Ceder Automotive Groupe, who also entered into a joint venture with the Apollo Motor Company, the engine developer of, among others, the Legore engines.
The Bisango was first introduced in 2017 with two 4.0 liter V8 engine options, a twin-turbo charged petrol engine, and a turbo-diesel variant. 2020 is seeing the introduction of this V12 option. The turbo-diesel variant - which was very popular on the European market, and which the Exhaust Note also drove - is currently being faded out and will be replaced by a new 3.0 V6 hybrid power plant.
The question that Legore itself obviously invites: is this the most opulent SUV in the world? Our testing can confirm that the Bisango Bi-Turbo Twelve is certainly luxurious. Our Bahia Green test car featured all top trim options. The four seats are bathed in luxury, with rear privacy glass, extreme quality seating, ample leg room and high level infotainment, with personalization possible per seat.
The interior is leather (Punalu Black with Cirrus Grey highlights and double stitching in our case), has a ‘twelve’ signature embroidered on the seats, features deep pile lambswool carpets - slightly too fluffy for our tastes - and has dark stained burr walnut inserts along the dash and doors. The inserts in particular create a nice contrast between old world luxury, and the hyper modern infotainment screens along the dash, in the back of the front seats and on the front and rear center consoles.
If there is any critique from our side, it is that the seats can be quite a tight fit. Comfortable, but shaped somewhat like a racing seat to keep you in place under heavy cornering. And with that we come to the issues we at The Exhaust Note find that this new behemoth Bisango has.
This Bi-Turbo Twelve has massive amounts of power, will accelerate the 2.5 ton (despite all aluminium construction) SUV to 100km in well under 3.5 seconds to a top speed of around 315 km/h (unlimited on the special Pirelli compound tyres), but it is not a sports car. The suspension set up is quite loose, favouring dampening road feel over handling. The brakes are remarkable in normal traffic, but overheat and dangerously lose effectiveness when put on the track.
As mentioned before, we also drove a 2019 V8 turbo-diesel Bisango, and while certainly less powerful and slower (430 HP, 892Nm - under 5 seconds 0-100 and a top speed of 265 km/h) with less aggressive 22 inch 275mm wheels all around, this trim offers much of the same opulence on the inside. The price of this 2019 Bisango: $250.000. Price of the new Bi-Turbo Twelve: $480.000. That is double the price for far less than double the car.
Sure, the ride in the Bi-Turbo Twelve is extremely smooth - you don’t hear the engine or the 9-speed gearbox unless you put your foot down properly. In the V8TD you notice you are driving a diesel (although in higher revs and with the turbo engaging, we are actually a fan of the sound). Sure the interior contains more hand-made components and an updated infotainment system. Sure the tyres are specially made and the drivetrain now contains a limited slip differential. But those changes are still quite minimal to warrant the huge price increase.
As mentioned earlier, the Bi-Turbo Twelve adds in terms of drivability and luxury, but despite those special tyres and that LSD, we had the feeling the Turbo-Diesel actually was more fun in the corners and on braking. Weighing almost half a ton lighter helps here, we presume. The Bisango is a fantastic top level SUV, and we are looking forward to the Hybrid version coming out next year. The Bi-Turbo Twelve on the other hand, looks to be more a prestige buy rather than a sensible buy. But then again, this might be the point with Italian luxury brands.
(+) beautiful on the outside, beautiful on the inside
(+) smooth and silent cruising
(+) extreme luxury and comfort
(+) top level infotainment
(-) tight squeeze in the seats if you aren’t 100% fit
(-) implies sportiness but fails to deliver
(-) money for value compared to other Bisango trims
Final score: 15/20 (opulent, but also a bit of a try-hard - not the prefect well-rounded package)
Excellent! I think you hit it on the head, the Bisango is more of a continent cruising limosine wearing an SUV suit rather than the super SUV that it appears to be.
1912 Zephorus 2000 - The strange, the odd, and the remarkable 3
cars by @Sky-High
"No need for the hand crank. It has an electric starter."
We at The Exhaust Note are not that familiar with pre-war vehicles, but if we were certain about one thing, it would be the stereotypical cranking the engine to start it. But nothing is at it seems in this 1912 Zephorus 2000; probably the first car produced by the somewhat elusive design house.
As a result, we actually do not know that much about this particular vehicle. We do know it has one of the first electric starter mechanisms for a car. There is a crank just in case, but you start the Zephorus by putting your key into the ignition lock, turning the ignition lever, manually priming the fuel pump, opening the throttle (more on that later), and finally pressing the true ignition button.
"Yes, two pedals. No, it's not an automatic. It's the brake and your clutch."
Suffice to say driving without a gas pedal is a quite an alien experience. It’s not that you cannot regulate the throttle. There is a switch on the dashboard next to the ignition that has 4 settings, basically: off, some, more, and full throttle. You should start in “more” or with full throttle in first gear not to stall, and then can cruise in low, more or full in second - being also your top - gear.
It’s difficult to wrap your head around at first, but you get used to it. We don’t actually know the specifics of this particular vehicle, but we guess the engine has a power output of about 35 horsepower. The sense of speed is enormous, but the Zephorus 2000 cannot really go much faster than 80 km/h (50mph). So in reality, the unusual throttle control does not make it that difficult to drive safely. Well, sensibly, rather. Let’s not talk abut safety when you are sitting on a rickety, smoking 105 plus year old machine without seat belts and with sponges for brakes.
"Feels like a Great War fighter plane, doesn't it? You can see why he loved it."
The “he” is Lieutenant Jan Olieslagers, one of the Belgian Great War Flying Aces, and general dare devil and speed maniac and lover of cars. He and his brother Jules were the last known owners of this car. He is said to have bought it in 1921 after being retired from the army. Remaining involved with mechanics and flying, he died during the Second World War a national hero. His Zephorus 2000 then ended up in the hands of the Belgian State.
Now restored and shared between the War Museum and the Autoworld, it is a part of history. But its early years are unclear. We know the Zephorus was not cheap when new, with hand made light-weighed panels and hand made interior; an exciting engine and new-fangled accesories such as the electric starter, it was a luxury tourer, costing probably one to two average year incomes.
"It's a bit of a star in the collection. It sees more action that most of the pieces."
Driving the Zephorus was a truly unique and sometimes scary experience. This is not the only dark red 2000 out there. A number of surviving examples from 1912 to 1914 are in the hands of private collectors, all in the Zephorus dark red, because that was the only option. This is the only model currently in public ownership and exhibited for public viewing. This makes it all the more remarkable that this vehicle is still in working order. Olieslagers himself is claimed to have praised the reliability of the Zephorus - rare for hand-made low volume old cars - compared to his other, newer vehicles at multiple occasions.
The museum staff is proud of this old gem in perfect working order. Sure it’s not fully original with its engine completely restored, the tires changed, and the rear seats replaced by replicas. But this also means it sees more activity than the average exhibit. The Zephorus has featured in historical movie shoots, in Great War re-enactment and remembrance events, and even in a historical rally or two. Keep an eye out for it, should you visit Brussels or Flanders Fields. The poppies might not be the only red thing that catches your eyes.
Zephorus Autos [Stories + Formatting] WIP
1963 Alfrezza Potenza GT - Cars in History 4
car by @BF94387
A Sicilian design studio, BF9 Design, was responsible for the 1963 Potenza GT by Alfrezza. It is not a well known car but it oozes that raw sixties Italian flair. It’s big double headlights and the floating thin-pillared roof are the most eye-catching. Produced in limited numbers for only two years, we at The Exhaust Note are grateful to be able to drive the car and give your our impressions.
Created in 1932 - with a hiatus during the war - Alfrezza produced in small quantities a number of rather unremarkable but quintessentially Italian light sports cars. The Potenza and the coorperation with BF9 Design house was its throw at the bigger stage. Introduced on the 1963 Paris autoshow, it received positively for its styling, but with the aim of breaking through in the grand tourer market it fell short of the expectations. Production was cancelled less than two years later.
Technically, the car was not really ready for production. Notoriously hard to drive and uncomfortable for a grand tourer, its troubles started with an unreliable, loud and heavily vibrating 3.2 liter V6. Large for a European sports car at the time, it produced 200 horsepower, making Potenza at least living up to its name in terms of the figures. Weighing in at just over one ton, it was fast in a straight line. Nobody knows exactly how fast though, because over 180 km/h it becomes highly unstable.
The Italian quirkiness does not stop with the engine. From its 180mm wide special made wheels, to its headrests in the rear, which are part of the design but not actually attached to any usable rear seat, the Potenza is a classic car that looks rushed. It did result in a bit of a cult of appreciation for surviving examples.
We went to Italy to get the opportunity to drive the Potenza on home territory, on windy mountain roads. And we can confide in you that we started our drive terrified, having read up on comments of its oversteer, its lock ups on braking - especially of the rear wheels, its unstability. But by the time we exited the city and were on the open mountain roads, we had grown understanding of the cult following of the Alfrezza Potenza GT.
It is, in fact, a tourer. It might lack the size and comfort of a typical one, but the drive should be experienced as such. Going into high rev ranges and taking turns sportively, not anticipating braking sufficiently ahead, you could feel where the negative comment come from. But driving the GT sedately, the engine is neither loud nor rickety; it rumbles softly between 2 and 3 thousand rpm while you go to through the manual 4-speed. Driving with anticipation, the handling is neither unpredictable nor dangerous, but the Potenza glides along the road.
This is not a sports car. This is a Sunday lazy drive tourer. What you lack in comfort, you gain in experience as the engine rumbles lazily but with some kind of old airplane character. It is to be driven as it is to be admired for its styling; somewhat detached, as if you were glancing though a book on Italian car design, with a cigar and scotch in hand. Nothing ought to be rushed, nothing too intensely experienced, just the slow meaty rumble of the engine in the background and your slow determined movements preparing for the next upcoming corner.
Beautifully written! Thanks for taking to time to appreciate the Potenza
Beautifully written, and a beautiful car!
This is what happens when your car magazine has an open invite day - Short Articles 4a
car by @chichicoofisial
And we are not even mad. We appreciate all wheeled transport here at The Exhaust Note, and it was interesting to drive around in this 2003 AHB G1-370 semi-truck - or so we heard from our two journalists that have the necessary driver qualifications to take it on the open road.
Powered by a small-angle 10731cc turbo-diesel V8 producing about 370 horsepower and well over 1000 Nm of torque, this AHB is the base model from 2003. Regardless, we found the truck running smoothly, greatly helped by its hydro-pneumatic suspension - which we found perfectly tuned - and the automatic gearbox (a six-speed, though with a low and high range for each). We can imagine the gearbox is standard for the AHBs from that period, as even cruising over the speed limit on the highway, we never used high sixth gear. Top speed is electronically limited - for everyone’s safety, especially others’ - to 120 km/h.
The cab alone weighs over 6.5 tons, so engine braking and anticipative driving are necessary. But we found the brakes more than capable. Pulling power is obviously good, though we heard from the owner than the real heavy work required the more powerful engine choices. Still, he continues to use this sixteen year old truck on a regular basis professionally. We are inclined to understand his enthousiasm and fidelity to the AHB. We’ve certainly driven cars that were harder to handle and drove less comfortably.
[note: I’m running behind in writing out my notes on a few fantastic cars that I received in the last weeks. Life has been busy in good ways recently. This article should have been part of three, but the other two didn’t get written out yet.]
Beautifully written! Love that article, thanks for giving it a try!
I thought these were extinct - Short Articles 4b
car by @Boiled_Steak
This magnificently aggressive coupe is the 2019 Aria Suzuka V6 GT. And in a time where every smaller engine is turbo-charged, the small Japanese company Aria Auto decided to built their newest iteration of the Suzuka, a line going back to 1968, around a naturally aspirated small angle V6 engine. The 3206cc powerplant may “only” put out around 300 horsepower and equal Nm of torque, but the incredible responsiveness and magnificent sound - we’re not entirely sure that the version we got would pass noise limitation tests - it makes in high revs more than makes up for that.
We are on top of that a great fan of its looks. Finished in ‘Dark Rose’ Metallic paint, the colour underlines the flowing yet powerful lines that run along the bodywork. The front and rear both have that enticing mix of angular and flowing elements that define alluring styling. The 20 inch wheels give the Suzuka a forceful and attacking stance together with the large hood and side vents, as well as the bold large rectangular exhausts.
The all-wheel drive system is set up with a mild rear wheel bias. Not enough to make go so sideways, but enough to give you the impression the car might allow you if you really tried. It makes for a fun and lively yet stable drive. And a driver’s car this, with only two seats, decently but not luxuriously equipped, and a gearbox that favours getting as close to that 8,4k red line even at normal traffic speeds.
That short gearing is the feature of the 7-speed automatic gearbox. It does have paddles on the steering wheel but it’s no racing gearbox. That said, even in pure automatic drive with the sports mode on, the drive is both lively as well as suitable for daily traffic. Fuel consumption is not very low, but remains reasonable at 8.6 l/100km (27.4 mpg) claimed - though realistically closer to 11 l/100km (21.5 mpg).
Price is hefty with just over $90.000 for the top trim model with all the options. Maintenance costs are relatively low though, helped by sensible material choices and going for relatively standard base components, from the normal automatic gearbox to the all-around 215mm tires. We tested the Aria both in traffic as well as on the track, and it performed admirably as civil grand tourer as well as a sports coupe. The brakes are probably too standard for sustained track use as well, but the times it set around the track were in the range of much high powered turbo-charged competitors.
Love the writing. It was worth the wait!
when you make these, you just go around the forums looking at car brand threads right?
No, people send me there cars and ask if I’m interested in reviewing them. Or occasionally I reach out for a specific design. Car brand threads and lore are obviously great sources of information to make the articles interesting and a good read. But the reviews an sich are based on the .car file, with some flavour added via BeamNG tests. Though that last one is not conclusive and mainly meant to add flavour.
Kadett Motor Company - 2020 Kadett Beat
Yep cat’s outta the bag. I was more than happy to provide Miros with my thoughts on the Cellia Novia, but am keen to continue the broader idea of a periodic little ramble or blurb on a selected car or topic (related to performance or Automation or Beam etc.) Call it an op-ed or something. I will leave it to Miros to decide what arrangement suits him best.
As for personas I have a range of characters available for the job, all from my parent company of which (in-character) me is obviously a part of. Each driver has a slightly different emphasis and very different personality.
This magazine lacks some kind of nice logo. This front page is, um, not well made, sorry to say it.