Big, 2 seater GT coupes are an art form, especially the more powerful ones. Balancing performance with comfort is a hard task for any company, and getting the balance just right is essential for such a market. Cavallera's Okuma and Shromet's Dragon aim to prove to have got that balance just right, hence why we're putting them head to head to find out which one is best.
The Shromet Dragon is the Japanese makes halo car, styled by Luceat Design studios, and is more of the full fat option in this contest. Air suspension, a wealth of technology onboard and a 5.5l bi-turbo V8. Some would say that a smoother engine layout would have been the way to go, but then again, few things are quite as delectable as a V8 roar.
The Okuma is also V8 powered, but is naturally aspirated too. It's the old school offering in this market, with a more tactile approach to the design. The comfort is provided by a luxury interior, as oppose to air suspension, and it aims to be lighter than its rivals instead of increasing weight to improve comfort. It's this difference in approaches between the two that will be the crux of the review.
Styling is very important on a GT car; it must be understated, but also still exciting enough to hint at its performance and prestige. Luceat have down well with the Dragon, with its headlights and grille perfectly matching the curves of the body. The back lets it down a bit though, it's a tad finicky and everything seems to be a bit too high for its own good. But the rear wing is a nice touch, proving this isn't just a car for comfortable cruising.
The Okuma is considerably more aggresive, yet the roundness of its body adds a softer side. The back is also far nicer than the Shromet's, and they've also added a rear wing for good measure. As a sports car, this is certainly the better looking car. But, the Dragon's curved headlights and delicately detailed grille make it feel more luxurious, and hence more of a GT car, meaning it bests the Okuma in the styling department.
On the road then, and it's the Cavallera up first. The acceleration is defiant and without any madness; you're soon up to speed, and the lack of drama quickly gives you the confidence to floor it. It's lovely up at speed, just enough engine noise to be exciting, but barely a hint of tire noise. The gearing felt fine, and there's plenty torque through out the range, making it perfectly adequate for overtaking and cruising. The engine could be smoother too.
The handling is sharp, but the suspension is soft enough to make it feel rounded. You can, if you want, drive this thing hard, and it'll keep up with most sports cars. The weight balance is great, but it is a tad rear heavy, which does feel odd for the first few miles considering this is an FR car. Still, it does make it tail happy, and the overall weight of the car happily allows you to slide it. So it may be a big GT cruiser, but it's not gonna stop you from having a bit of fun from time to time.
The big difference between the Shromet and the Cavallera is the weight, and you really can't avoid it; this is not a performance car, certainly not in the same way as the other car. The handling is sharp, and weirdly enough so is the air suspension, but it feels more plush than the tactile response of the Okuma's analogue setup. The acceleration is smoother and snappier, with closer gearing that it blips through seamlessly at higher speeds. It feels more of a cruising machine, especially compared to how much smoother the engine is.
On big sweeping bends and through slower corners, it really excels. This is a car that feels grand when its on the road,and the lack of a performance edge doesn't really matter. It also feels more comfortable; not that the Okuma isn't very comfortable, it's just this smooths out the bumps that little bit better. A worthwhile trade off, I think.
Little details about each car distinguish them further. The long, bubble shaped front windscreen of the Okuma makes it feel more spacious and more exciting on the inside compared to the more conventional Dragon. The equipment on the Dragon kept me entertained for sure, and I think I'd prefer to have all these toys on my car rather than driving something without them. The noise of the Okuma is better, and it is refreshing to drive a non-turbo car. The Dragon feels like the more usable car for everyday driving.
Properly judging these two cars, however, is going to have to be a subjective matter. Like I said at the start, GT cars are all about balance, but they are also about experience. Performance wise, both cars are perfectly suitable, and you won't be disappointed with either when it comes to straight line performance. The Okuma is the harder, more aggresive car, both in design and execution, even though it still has its soft side. It's the more defiant choice, and certainly the one to go for if you want to make more of an impression. I liked body shape of it more than the Dragon, though the styling of that car was more convincing to me as a GT car. The Dragon's strength is its comfort and wooshy feel. It's soft without being mushy, it's rounded and balanced, and superbly well equipped. And, it achieves understatement, the ultimate talent of a GT car.
I prefer the Okuma as a performance car, and it's a great balance between sports car and GT car, if you want to see it that way. A soft sports car, if you like, something worth considering if looks are important but you want to be able to use your car every day. But as a GT car, it's the Shromet Dragon that wins me over. It's got the looks, the comfort and the overall feel, and its focus on being softer and more comfortable aids it, even at the cost of weight. It feels more at home being a long distance cruiser, and I could happily see it parked on the waterfront at Nice.
- Gavin Anderson