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30

May

2016

ARTICLES

Car Buying Tips

1. Do Your Homework. Look at consumer guides, look at new car guides, check out

insurance costs, check to see what dealers are offering for rebates.

2. Choose Your Dealer Well. Look for someone reputable. Check the service center; are

they friendly, fast and efficient? What is your first impression? Remember you will be

dealing with the service center long after your sale is completed.

3. Be Willing To Walk Away. If you feel overwhelmed or pressured, walk away. Have

several models in mind. Your chances of a better deal increase when you can negotiate

on several vehicle models. (If the dealer knows you have your heart set on a specific

vehicle, negotiations are over.)

4. Stay Calm When Negotiating. Remember the dealer does this everyday, the average

person does it once every four years. The dealer will be better at the negotiation

process. Keep your wits about you, keep the salesman on the subject of cost, and don’t

sign anything until you have time to think about it.

5. Get Dealer Promises In Writing. If the dealer promises to give you future add-ons at

cost, change a spare tire, upgrade a CD player, include floor mats, etc. – get it in writing.

Have them put it on the sales contract. After the sale anything not in writing could be

subject to interpretation.

6. Negotiate The Price Of Your New Car Based On “Cash Price”. If you are trading in a

vehicle make the deal on the new vehicle first, then bring up your trade-in. Some dealers

inflate the price of your new vehicle to incorporate the trade-in.

7. Be Honest About The Condition Of Your Trade-In. You want the dealer to be honest

with you, reciprocate in kind. A good honest relationship is the best place to start.

8. When A Rebate vs. Low Interest Rate Is Offered, Consider The Rebate. The rebate

reduces the amount financed and reduces the amount of sales tax paid. If you are in an

accident or decide the vehicle is not for you, taking the rebate allows more equity in the

vehicle.

9. Consider “Add-Ons” Carefully Before Agreeing. Do you already have AAA that will

help you with roadside assistance? Have you had under-carriage rust before where you

needed additional coverage? Do you need the fabric guard or is that something you

could do with a product yourself? Do you need the floor mats or could you buy some

after? All these items add up, that is why they are add-ons. Don’t let the excitement of a

new vehicle cloud your basic judgment.

10. Be Nice But Not A Push-Over. Dealers are counting on making you feel embarrassed if

you negotiate. So what if the dealer thinks you are trying to save money? They work on

commission and are conditioned to get the highest price, you want on the lowest. You

hope to meet in the middle.

Good luck! Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Hood Strut Kit Installation

Step 1: Determine which brackets you need to mount the hood strut.

Two brackets are included with this kit. Depending on your vehicle, you will need to decide whether to use the 90 degree bracket or the flat bracket on the base of the Hood Strut. To use the 90 degree bracket you need a flat surface perpendicular to the Hood Strut. If you do not have a surface to accommodate the 90 degree bracket, you will need to use the flat bracket which will install on the inner fender.

Step 2: Determine where to mount the brackets.

After you have determined which bracket you will be using, you must determine where to mount each end of the strut. Determining the proper mounting points will ensure a trouble free install. Start with the bottom bracket. Find a suitable location for the bracket that will allow the Hood Strut when mounted to it, to lie down without obstruction.

Once you have checked that the hood will close with the strut in this location, you can mount the lower bracket. This is done with a #26 or 9/64 drill. Hold your bracket in its proper position and mark your holes using the bracket as a template. Center punch and drill the three holes. Mount the bracket using the supplied self-tapping screws. With your lower bracket mounted, install the Hood Strut to it. With the hood strut fully closed, measure the distance from the bottom mounting bolt to the upper mounting bolt. THIS DISTANCE IS CRUCIAL. If you mount the upper bracket too close, the hood will not close all the way. If you mount the bracket too far away, the hood will not open to its’ full potential. After this distance has been determined, simply transfer this measurement to the bottom side of the hood. We recommend you tape the bracket to the hood and check that your hood will close before any drilling.

Once you are sure your bracket is in its proper location on the bottom of the hood, using the bracket as a template, mark your holes. Center punch and drill the three holes using a #26 or 9/64 drill. It is important that you be very careful when drilling through the hood liner. If you push too hard, you may ding or even drill through the outer skin of the hood.

Step 3: Mounting the Hood Strut.

Now that you have the upper and lower brackets installed you are ready to install the Hood Strut. Simply install and tighten the stud from the quick release using the nut and washers provided, then attach the quick release to the stud. For the bottom you should tighten until the prop is sturdy and then back off until it is free to move with the hood. We recommend that you use some form of thread lock on this nut.

Step 4: Testing your Hood Strut.

With the Hood Strut installed, you will need to do some final checks.

First be sure that your hood will close all the way and there are no obstructions to the Hood Strut.

Next open your hood to the final slot in the Hood Strut. The inner-rod of the hood strut should turn on its’ own. Gently let the weight down on the strut being sure the inner-rod has turned into the slot and everything is holding correctly.

Once you have completed these checks, and everything works, you are ready to go. If the inner-rod does not turn on its own you need to undo the quick release and unscrew it one complete turn and reinstall.

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15

February

2016

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ARTICLES

OPEN FOR EVEN MORE BUSINESS

JAGUAR LAND ROVER’S LATEST MODEL WILL EXTEND ITS CUSTOMER BASE, AND REMAIN A DECENT OFF-ROADER

IT IS SOMEWHAT appropriate in the issue when we explain the best ways to prepare your 4×4 vehicle for the forthcoming winter season, that we should be able to show pictures of a new convertible Evoque! Not perhaps for the UK in December, it is nevertheless great to look forward to when the sun returns.

As it happens, you may well have seen the final production version of the Evoque as you read this, as the model is due to be unveiled at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November – Jaguar Land Rover obviously knows its markets. We received these ‘disguised’ testing shots just before we went to press at the end of October and if you can ignore the visually confusing paintwork, it’s a prototype that is close to the production offering. Perhaps the most intriguing design question that is not answered with these ‘spy’ shots is just what happens to the roof system when folded. Indeed, will it be completely hidden as it appears here?

Looking at the picture above, you have to admit that it is extremely unlikely a convertible Evoque will ever find itself up to its axles in water and mud in a forest in England in the autumn! The shots are actually taken at Eastnor Castle and show that JLR is at least intent on keeping the convertible as a capable off-roader. We do understand that the development of the convertible Evoque has actually been delayed somewhat, and can only surmise that initial off-road test results could well have been the reason. Modern SUV design involves the creation of a monocoque that has to be light (in JLR’s case, this has been the development of aluminium monocoques) but has to remain strong and rigid. To be brutally simple, cutting the roof, sides and rear from a monocoque will significantly affect its structural rigidity, and leading to the rest of the bodyshell to flex. Now making such an open bodyshell rigid is difficult enough when the vehicle is designed just for the road, imagine how difficult that is when you also expect this vehicle to bump and grind off-road. It’s probably why there aren’t that many convertible off-roaders. An open-topped Jeep Wrangler still retains a significant roll-over ‘hoop’ to keep everything rigid, as indeed did the original Dacia Duster for those with long memories, yet that still flopped about off-road as if it was made from Angel Delight… From these pictures, the latest Evoque has no such structural ‘hoop’ and will be a true convertible. It will be very interesting to learn exactly how the Evoque’s monocoque has been redesigned to cope. Mike Cross, Land Rover Chief Engineer of Vehicle Integrity, explained: “Land Rover prides itself on being a class leader when it comes to all-terrain capability and the the Evoque Convertible is no different. Thanks to a combination of innovative engineering and the application of advanced technologies, Evoque Convertible will deliver a dynamic and assured SUV experience that has been tested around the world. We call it ‘The Convertible for all Seasons’.”

The company is obviously happy with the results and the Evoque Convertible will be on sale in the UK next spring. As yet prices have not been announced, but you suspect that order books already have some names pencilledin, definitely the SUV that you really will be able to be seen in.

FULLY WIRED Any readers doing their monthly shopping around the Harrods area of London in October may well have had a sneak preview of the forthcoming Evoque model. A series of wire models of the convertible were produced, and parked in the posh areas of Knightsbridge and Mayfair (pictured below left). Computer generated designs, these models were made from aluminium and were full scale and 3D, including both wheels and front seats. They were designed to show the convertible ‘in its natural environment’, which is obviously not Eastnor Castle. This impressive promotional programme came from Gerry McGovern’s innovative team, as he explained: “The Range Rover Evoque Convertible is perfectly suited to the urban surroundings of a city like London and it’s the perfect place to showcase the world’s first luxury compact SUV convertible. The locations chosen reflect the refined and luxurious lifestyle of an Evoque Convertible customer.”

Not for everyone, perhaps, but JLR still deserve credit for not diluting the Evoque’s offroad abilities just to chase the image conscious ‘look-at-me’ customer. Top down, in the sunshine, it will turn heads, although it will also be interesting to see what it looks like with the roof up on UK roads on a grim, grey, wet and windy November afternoon…

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23

January

2016

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ARTICLES

ANATOMY OF A MAKEOVER

ANATOMY OF A MAKEOVER

AFTER 13 MONTHS OF CONSTRUCTION, THE PETERSEN’S FOCUS IS BACK ON CARS

A LITTLE MORE than a year after its $90 million renovation began, the new Petersen Automotive Museum is ready. There are 100 automobiles, 23 motorcycles, four scooters, one bobsled and a full-sized Lightning McQueen. You can see it all for just 15 bucks.

What a renovation: The 20year-old museum was completely gutted inside and scraped clean outside. What you can’t help but notice outside is the wild-looking stainless-steel ribbon assembly, making Disney’s Concert Hall look Greco-Roman. The ribbon is made from 100 tons of 14-gauge type 304 stainless steel in 308 sections with 25 tubular steel supports and 140,000 custom-designed stainless-steel screws holding it to the side of the building.

The 130 or so vehicles parked inside are scattered over 133,380 square feet, considerably more than before. An underground vault holds up to 150 more cars.

The new museum celebrates the automobile’s history, industry and artistry. Let’s start with the artistry: “Precious Metal” in the Bruce Meyer Family Gallery features 10 beautiful silver cars on silver stands in a silver room with a silver backdrop. It includes two Pebble Beach winners—John Shirley’s coachbuilt Ferrari and Bob Lee’s Horch— as well as Corvette and Mercedes race cars and several others. One floor down is the Peter and Merle Mullin Artistry Floor, featuring “the most artfully designed vehicles ever built.” And they ain’t kidding: The Mullins’ Pebble-winning Voisin is in one corner—other Voisins are scattered about— while Bugattis, Delages and Delahayes make you forget every other car ever made.

The museum is also about education. To that end, there are two main entities. First is the Disney/Pixar Mechanical Institute, which uses a mechanical reproduction of the parts that make up Lightning McQueen to teach what makes a car go.

Visitors can check out the Cars Pad, like an iPad but with the “Cars” characters taking you through the museum and through a car’s mechanics. Mater helps you build a race car, Flo talks design, Luigi tells you about chassis and tires, and Ramone guides you through customizing.

Then, on the north side of the second floor, Maserati brings you the “Production Gallery,” showing in four displays how a car is designed, engineered and built, ending with a finished Quattroporte.

Around the corner from that is the Art Center’s College of Design Studios, where Art Center transportation design students design real cars.

Overall, there are more cars and more exhibits, reminding museum-goers how greater LA built itself around the automobile, from Model Ts to Teslas. While other metropolises abandoned cars and built skyscrapers, Angelenos clung to the car and went for freeway-connected urban sprawl. “Southern California grew out, not up, and the car is the reason,” said Peter Mullin.

Now LA has one of the world’s best car museums to celebrate that feat.

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Rear [drive] of the year

Rear [drive] of the year

Lose two driving wheels. Gain drift heroism

A car built to do skids. When all’s said and  done and whether  you actually choose  to indulge or not,  that’s the raison d’être of this new Lamborghini Huracán LP580-2. OK,  one of the raisons. The other is both more relevant and prosaic: it enables Lamborghini to lower the ownership entry point by around £20,000.

This allows the 4WD Huracán to continue its battle against the Ferrari 488 GTB and McLaren 650S, while  the 2WD version can fight on a new  front against the McLaren 570S, Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo. OK, so it’s cheap for the top sector and expensive for the lower, but the arrival of this model undoubtedly enhances and extends Lamborghini’s market appeal.

But let’s get back to oversteer, because, well, because Lamborghini says so. The firm says there are five pillars on which this new model has been built: handling, load transfer, wheel control, steering feel and POWER OVERSTEER. The capitals are mine, but thoroughly deserved. When was the last time you heard a car company being that blatant about anything?

So let’s have a look at what’s been done to make this Ken Block’s kind of supercar. Firstly, it’s worth pointing  out that a rear-drive Huracán has been part of the model plan from the very beginning. That wasn’t the case with the Gallardo LP550-2 Balboni back  in 2009, to which not much was done apart from removal of the necessary  bits of hardware.

This time, a more considered approach has been taken – it’s not only lighter but also softer. Simple stuff: ditching all the unnecessary hardware has saved 33kg (all-up weight with fluids is 1,497kg) and shifted the weight distribution rearwards from 43:57 to 40:60. R&D chief Maurizio Reggiani tells me that the aim was for the car  to move around a bit more, to be more sensitive to weight transfer so, to that end, the front springs, dampers and anti-roll bar have been backed off by about 10 per cent. Same at the rear, but to a lesser extent – about five per cent.

The steering has been adjusted too, both the standard system and the much-derided optional variable- rack Dynamic set-up, to deliver more consistency and feel. And the engine? That drops 30bhp to 572bhp. Why bother? To differentiate the cars, basically. But operating within the standard engine’s safety margins, they’ve been able to adjust the whole line of the power curve.

Max thrust now arrives 250rpm earlier, at 8,000rpm, the downside being that the fun stops 250rpm sooner, at 8,500rpm. To be honest, that’s no biggie, and the trade-off is that the curve-massaging means the engine actually feels even more nuts at the top end, with a significant extra burst of energy above 6,500rpm. It’ll still do 0–62mph in 3.4secs and on to 199mph, so no, not slow – on par with the other car rivals I mentioned, and both noisier  and more exuberant than any of them.

Outside, there are new front and  rear bumpers that are fractionally less aggressive, and – controversially –  no LP580-2 badges whatsoever. If it were mine, I’d want everyone to know I’d bought the rear-wheel-drive one. It’s  a curious omission. On the one hand, Lambo makes a big song and dance about the car’s dynamic ability, while on the other, it doesn’t allow onlookers to know exactly what it is you’re driving. No one will be able to tell from the styling amendments – they’re just too subtle.

If I’m honest, I feared the LP580-2 would be a bit clumsy at skidding  about. I thought it might be snatchy  and difficult. On this evidence, that’s not the case. We’re at Losail Circuit  in Qatar. It’s a long way to go to only  be allowed to drive the car around a track, but as a place to test Lambo’s claims, it’s about perfect.

The first thing you notice is the  extra bodyroll. It’s not much, but Lambo has, of course, measured it – this one achieves 1.81 degrees of roll while the 4WD hits only 1.52 degrees. Small shift, you might think, but you do notice it. Not because the reactions are slower, but because you feel the weight move around as you accelerate, brake and turn. This means that through corners, the LP580-2 is very sensitive to throttle inputs. You can adjust your trajectory and line with little lifts and prods.  It’s very satisfying.

Or, of course, you can clog it  mid-corner and see what happens…

And what you’ll find, if you give it  a good prod in second, is that the tail arcs wide progressively, and when  you chicken out due to the noise and drama and terror, it steps back into  line smoothly as well. I’m not saying  it’s as friendly as a Mazda MX-5,  because it’s not – you’re not going  to go skidding around your nearest supermarket roundabout, cackling wildly with clouds of smoke billowing  in your noisy, acrid wake – but it won’t spit you into the scenery, either.

At least, not without good reason. The ESP can only be fully, fully disabled in Corsa mode, but that also stiffens  up the suspension making things a bit trickier, so you switch back to Sport,  but then even when the traction claims it’s fully off, it’s not. And Lambo hasn’t yet developed an answer to Ferrari’s insta-hero Side Slip Control. The ESP here will rein things in smoothly, but won’t let you hang it all out.

Here’s a weird one, though: there’s actually more body roll in Sport, than  in Strada (street) mode. That’s the mode that Sant’Agata’s engineers have chosen to deliver the most interaction, movement and fun. And it is a laugh  to drive. The V10 makes a properly addictive commotion, howling, popping and banging around the circuit, happily toying with the edge of oversteer if  you barrel out of corners with enough determination. It’s raucous, amusing and surprisingly supple.

However, we need to discuss the steering. There was some confusion about whether the cars had Dynamic steering fitted or not. The absence of feedback and texture suggested they did, the optional system’s variable  rack (chosen by 90 per cent of Huracán buyers) trading off feel against in-town ease. However, it was finally confirmed that they actually had the standard steering, which, given the slight turn- in understeer and lack of detail, is a cause for concern.

It could have well been that the  track was dusty, robbing the tyres  of a little bite and grip, but either  way, the Huracán’s front end wasn’t communicating as well as I’d hoped.  I suspect this wouldn’t be any sort  of issue on-road, and, like I said, the chassis was nicely adjustable through corners. If it were me, I’d have this  over the LP610-4. It’s a little more exuberant and enthusiastic about  life, more fun to be with. And that’s what a Lamborghini is all about.

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24

December

2015

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ARTICLES

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF COUNTRY

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF COUNTRY

The short-lived Golf Country was arguably ahead of its time, setting a trend that helped to create today’s crossover sector. Paul Guinness takes a look at this most useful of VWs

Volkswagen was doing rather well for itself by the late ’80s, particularly with its second-generation version of the Golf, which since 1983 had been selling spectacularly well throughout Europe and beyond. It had built upon the success of the MkI Golf, reinforcing VW’s reputation as a manufacturer of top-quality family-friendly models. When it came to all-wheel drive technology, however, the company wasn’t exactly a pioneer… or was it?

The German giant did indeed dip its corporate toe into the 4×4 waters of the ’80s, albeit via collaboration with all-wheel drive specialist Steyr-Daimler-Puch. The Austrian firm had been involved in 4×4 conversions for many years, its most recent being the 1983-on Panda 4×4 produced on behalf of Fiat. And so it made sense for Volkswagen to follow suit when contemplating its own four-wheel drive launch.

The first result was the Golf Syncro of 1986, a road-biased 4×4 with a viscous coupling and flexible amounts of torque between its front and rear axles. With its regular ground clearance and 1.8-litre petrol engine, the emphasis was on driver appeal combined with useful extra grip in wintry conditions. But surely there was more potential when it came to the concept of a Golf 4×4?

Indeed there was, which is why the 1989 Geneva Motor Show saw Volkswagen unveiling what you see here: the Golf Country, employing an adaptation of the Syncro’s 4×4 set-up combined with 21cm of increased ride height for decent off-road potential. The production version of the Country (available throughout much of Europe from early 1990) featured front and rear bull bars as standard, as well as sump protection, a subframe to protect the diff, plus an external rear-mounted spare wheel on a swing-away frame. The end product was tough and distinctive looking, giving VW a handy leg-up into the rapidly expanding 4×4 sector of the time.

The Golf Country was only ever produced in left-hand drive, which explains why official UK imports never began. Elsewhere though, the Country proved to be quite a hit (particularly in Europe’s snowiest regions), with around 3000 produced during its short career. Drivers loved them too, with eager performance from the Country’s 98bhp 1.8 petrol lump, making this the ideal car for anyone seeking some useful ‘oomph’ combined with a modicum of go-anywhere ability.

Despite such success, however, the Country concept wasn’t revived for the 1991-on MkIII Golf, leaving this MkII-based version as a unique model in VW history. Volkswagen has gone on, of course, to be a major player in the crossover and SUV sectors of the market, and yet it was with a converted MkII Golf that the process arguably began.  4×4

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10

December

2015

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ARTICLES

Fiat fantasy camper

Fiat fantasy camper

Not perhaps your obvious expedition motorhome manufacturer, but our columnist is much taken by this concept camper from the Italians

Every year more and more appear from abroad and owners treat it is as an annual get together with some trade stands thrown in. It’s incredible how much money is spent on these vehicles and how much tender love and care goes into the business of overland prep.

One vehicle that would have made a big impression on the Show and cause plenty of discussion would have been the latest concept from the Fiat factory. Yes, I know Fiat isn’t terribly well known for its concepts in the general motoring sector, but recently one of its subsidiaries has come up with a cracker for the overland community.

The Fiat Ducato 4×4 Expedition Camper Show ‘van’ (wrong choice of description surely?!) is a true one-off – more’s the pity – that has been doing the rounds of some big shows – including the Motorhome and Caravan show at the NEC Birmingham. We don’t tend to frequent this event, naturally, as it tends not to cater for us hardy 4×4 types, but this year was obviously an exception with this more robust and impressive adventure overland truck on display. I wish I had bowled on up there to take a closer look. It appears far more aggressive and fi t for purpose than some examples at the recent Adventure Overland Show – a highly appropriate place to be admired methinks.

The NEC show was the last stop for the Ducato 4×4, which has been doing the rounds of Europe visiting specialist Caravan shows in Dusseldorf, Parma in Italy and Bourget in France. It has been designed and produced by Fiat Professional, and, as its name suggests, is built on the Fiat Ducato standard camper base, which is a top seller and leader in this sector and the fi rst choice for all European motorhome manufacturers.  Fiat tells us that 25 per cent of Europe’s motorhome market is accounted for by the camper van segment, so perhaps we can have more tough and impressive 4×4 options please manufacturers.

The Ducato 4×4 is powered by a 2.3-litre 150bhp MultiJet II engine which isn’t going to produce any fi reworks, but that’s not the point is it? It has an extended overhang and higher roof than the standard model, as well as higher ride height, bigger off-road spec tyres and wheels, widened track plus front skid plate and smart LED DRLs, roof rack with sand ladders attached and ample fuel storage area.

The 4WD system is supplied by Dangel and is permanent with viscous coupling – no low range, sadly. The exterior shell is courtesy of Olmedo, which specialises in adapting vehicles including for off-road use.

Inside it looks immaculate and classy with Technoform design, which also supplies the yachting industry. This concept arrives on Technoform’s 50th anniversary – fi tting landmark. We love the smart, luxurious driving seat that swivels to become a lounging and dining chair.

In the meantime, just enjoy these pictures and hope that we may see it as a production 4×4 camper down the line…

 

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30

November

2015

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ARTICLES

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Father’s Day Gift Guide

WE’VE SCROUNGED AROUND IN THE BACK CORNER OF THE INTERWEB FOR SOME BEAUTY-BONZER GIFT IDEAS FOR FATHER’S DAY ON DECEMBER 5TH. 

 

ORIGINAL SIDsidchrome

Packed to the brim with 198 tough-as-nails Sidchrome metric/AF tools, Dad will be beside himself if one of these turns up with his breakfast in bed. Their brilliantly designed multi-tier draw system which cascades down without tipping over and sending you deaf when a hundred tools clang into the concrete is just the start. The kit includes 1/4” and 3/8” drive sockets and accessories, ring end and ring and o pen end spanner sets as well as screwdrivers, punches, multi-grips and adjustable wrenches, TORX keys and even the kitchen sink. Not really, but there is also a 450g ball pein hammer. Just don’t park it on his full English.

 

SERIusb_jaguar_AL BUSTED

You know what Dad needs? A USB stick that allows him to store the hundreds of photos he takes of the classic car and the endless eBay parts purchases he makes (that the better half doesn’t know of), all while adding something bright and childishly entertaining to the office space. Carlectables, a company based in Cheltenham, Victoria, has provided that exact solution to all his file storage/portability issues. In addition to the Mustang, Gullwing and Kombi, they’ve also got Porsches, Lambos and Astons (to name a few), plus they’ll store up to 16GB, all while flashing their lights and retracting when not in use. Tax-deductible novelty car-themed office trinketry is always a winner, so Google yourself silly at www.carlections.com.au or give them a ring on 0416 071 556. We’ll take two.

 

KICK IN THE CLUTCHClutch launch Performance Clutch Kit

It’s always a compromise hunting for the best clutch kit; a constant tug-o-war between price and quality. Then there’s the more in-depth problem of durability, the ability to cope with the power, and drivability. Well Xtreme Clutch reckon they’ve found a solution. Their kits come in various options including organic single plate upgrades all the way up to carbon multi-plate options for 1000hp-plus street driven vehicles. “The carbon range of clutch kits is suited to vehicles that are putting out exceptional horsepower and torque figures and that require a light, high heat capacity clutch kit,” claims Xtreme Clutch Mechanical Engineer, Stewart Furze. If your clutch needs an upgrade then picking the right kit is as simple as visiting www.xtremeclutch.com.au or calling Xtreme Clutch on 1800-258-824.

 

 

NO PLAcar careCE LIKE CHROME

Mothers’ California Gold All-Chrome is the quick and easy way to clean, polish, and protect any hard or decorative chrome finish on the dullest-looking mud-plugger. This claim extends to nitty gritty items like chrome plating (inside and out), PVD chrome, and even today’s cheesy chromed plastics. You know, the stuff inside base model Corollas and the like. Just spray, wipe and buff to a brilliant shine. Visit www.mothers.com for info, stockists and other Mothers gear for Dad. You can also call (02) 8853 2900 to talk to a human

 

BEAR ARMSbowdens-drop-bear-cloth

The koala strikes fear into the hearts of any clueless tourist, and Dad will be stoked when he sees what The Drop Bear buffing/final prep cloth does for the bodywork of his beloved classic. The Bowden mob decided long ago to make their gear to use on their own cars because “the other guys” just didn’t cut it. So rest assured this curiously-named piece of Aussie-made (that’s right) car care will do wonders thanks to its fully-machine washable, 900 GSM single pelt fur which is 100% genuine synthesised koala fur (known to be some of the softest in the world). It’ll leave a perfect shine without any scratching. Unless provoked or startled.

 

bradford-exchange_brock-clock
THE TICKING BROCK

Has it really been ten years next year? Crikey. Approved by the Brock Estate, this is one literally for the mantel. It’s a Peter Brock mantel clock with one of his favourite expressions, ‘Enjoy the moment’. The superb artwork is that of Greg McNeill, whose eleven works of Peter Brock have been combined to decorate the Heirloom Porcelain clock including PB’s legendary race cars, as well as statistics from his career. They’re only making 45 of these clocks, so you’ll need to get in quick. They take one AA battery and come with a certificate of authenticity.

 

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20

October

2015

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ARTICLES

Weight of expectation

Weight of expectation

Merc’s pared down GT S is now sufficiently weighty to threaten Porsche’s 911

T HE MEGA-Merc, the SLS AMG, was the baddest Benz ever to snort up the white lines of the road and next to it the AMG GT looks compact, almost like a retro racer. My take is Affalterbach clearly styled it this way in response to the 50-year-old 911 – to give it heritage, make it look more established than it actually is. Fair play, but don’t misjudge its calculated façade – this is a hi-tech and supremely well-packaged car. Thanks to dry sump lubrication, AMG has sunk a 4.0-litre V8 into that platypus-low bonnet. Downsized it may be but twin-turbos inside the hot V means a blitz to 100kph in 3.8sec; on to 200kph just 8sec after that. And it’ll do those numbers time after time, thanks to an improved Race Start function.

The front-midship layout with transaxle means the dual-clutch gearbox sits at the rear and this provides a delicate 47/53% weight distribution. You sense this sitting in the close-fitting cabin – the high transmission tunnel, loaded with go-faster buttons, features the stubby gear selector that sits almost underneath your armpit. You’re just off-centre from the steering wheel too, a further reminder of the V8’s presence just millimetres ahead of your right toe. Our launch route took in short liaisons on the motorway, high-speed runs at the banked oval of Gerotek as well as hot laps around Zwartkops Raceway.

This variety showed off the supreme versatility of the GT S, unlocked by the four, massively stepped personalities of AMG Drive Select. In Comfort ride quality is excellent but the steering feels as if it’ll be hopeless when the road’s radius tightens. But flick it into Sport or Sport+ and all preconceptions are immediately eclipsed as the steering comes to life, transmission sharpens and most importantly, the engine note brawns up. At partial throttle the sound rumbles throughout the cabin. With the throttle pinned wide open it graduates to full AMG Gatling gun; and forward shove never diminishes despite the dual-clutch’s millisecond shifts – only the noise subsides a fraction. The AMG GT S’s pièce de résistance undoubtedly comes on the race track. With a lightish kerbweight, low centre of gravity, big power and near-perfect weight distribution as your key ingredients, the finished product is always going to impress, but the GT S exceeds all expectations.

In Race and Sport Handling mode the dialogue between input and response is perfectly honed. A skittish, oversteery AMG this certainly is not. An ultra-responsive front end and excellent drop-off visibility helps you place the car inch-perfectly, the brakes have superb feel and bite, and you carry massive momentum through high-speed corners thanks to the balance the chassis communicates in a thoroughly intuitive, second-skin kind of way. Having driven the highly talented 911 GTS I can say my allegiance lies with the brawnier Merc – for now (let’s see what the new turbocharged 991.2 era produces).

As charismatic as the 911 may be, the GT S is a match in the handing and razor-sharp double-clutch shifts stakes but I doubt anything less than a Turbo or GT3 will out-pace this beast’s magnificent V8. Mind you, I’m totally open to being proven wrong… Bring on the local group test.  tc

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10

October

2015

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ARTICLES

Changing fortunes

All-new Toyota Fortuner makes much-anticipated global debut – its first full-model change ever

ON STYLING ALONE it clearly eschews the previous SUV’s utilitarian presence in favour of a more overt exterior, but Toyota says it won’t lose any of its strength and genuine all-terrain capability.

The need-to-knows of the second-gen sevenseater (beginning life as the Hilux Sport Rider of 1998, before going global in 2005 with the model Saffas know and love) are its totally redesigned body, more premium interior and a range of new engines.

The design brief was simple. ‘Design a Fortuner that can compete in terms of style and aesthetics while staying true to its authentic SUV characteristics and genuine 4WD performance,’ says Calvyn Hamman, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing, Toyota SA.

To that end the 2016 Fortuner ushers in a new design language Toyota chooses to call ‘Solid Fluidity’. That oxymoron might be a little more ‘moron’ than ‘oxy’ but what it’s angling at is the offering’s solid width, high body axis, bulging wheel arches and chunky trapezoidal front bumper, which don’t sacrifice sophisticated detailing, such as the slim headlights, slanted chrome grille and sleek, complex rear lamps. 18in wheels with 265/60 rubber fill the arches and the keen beltline kinks up towards the tall rear, with black C-pillars giving it a ‘floating roof’ look. Although Toyota hasn’t shown us the interior just yet, the firm says ample cabin space (with 15 hidden stowage compartments) will be complemented by convenience features (model dependent) that include an integrated multi-media touchscreen (à la Prado), smart entry and a second-row seats with one-touch operation for easy seat folding.

As with the new Hilux, there are new engines offering improved low-down torque, fuel efficiency and reduced engine noise. These include 2.4-litre (112kW/400Nm) and 2.8-litre (132kW/450Nm) diesels, supplemented by a 123kW/245Nm 2.7-litre petrol variant. Propping up these efficient powerplants are newly developed six-speed automatic transmissions with optimised gear ratios.

The new Fortuner arrives in SA in the second quarter of 2016. Full local range and specs will be disclosed closer to the launch.

 

 

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