The Ram's Eye - A Driver's Blog: April 2013



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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

BMW M5 and M6 Competition Package - Packing 575 hp




A few reviews of the BMW M5 haven't been too positive - it has improved as a luxury car but moved further away from the "Ultimate Driving Machine." If you have an M5 or an M6 and you agree with these reviews, BMW might have an answer. Starting with model year 2014, BMW will offer a performance package called the Competition Package.

The package will bump power from 560 hp to 575 hp. Other upgrades include distinct wheels, black exhaust tips, and, more importantly, a revised suspension and a more direct steering ratio. The revised suspension should sharpen up the handling and, judging by the reviews, should be a welcome upgrade to BMW M fans. Top speed will remain governed at 190 mph and 0-60 mph time should drop by 0.1 s to 3.6 s. We'll have to wait for an official release for more details about the suspension upgrades and pricing but, considering that the M5 and M6's aren't set up equally, (full post: BMW M6 Coupe - The Ultimate Twin-Turbo M Car!), it will be interesting to see if the upgrades will make the M5 and M6 Coupe and Gran Coupe equal.

Source: Car and Driver


Monday, 29 April 2013

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Pricing - Starts at $51,995




The C7 Corvette Stingray was revealed last January but Chevrolet had yet to announce pricing until a few days ago. MSRP for the coupe will be $51,995 and $56,995 for the convertible, including $995 destination fee. The current but outgoing (C6) Corvette has an MSRP of $50,595 for the coupe and $55,595 for the convertible, including $995 destination fee. This means a price bump of $1,400 for both body styles but you get a lot for the $1,400.

All Stingrays will come standard with "exceptional" seating support, a great improvement over the current one. The seats feature 8-way power adjustment and a lightweight magnesium frame. Other noticeable standard features include:

  • Five-position Drive Mode Selector
  • 7-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Matching
  • The all-new 6.2 litre LT1 small block V8 with direct injection, Active Fuel Management, continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system
  • Carbon fibre hood on all models and removable roof panel on coupes
  • Aluminum frame that's 99 lb. lighter and 57% stiffer than the outgoing (C6) model
  • HID and LED lighting
  • Dual, 8-inch configurable driver/infotainment screens, with Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system and rear vision camera
  • Bose 9-speaker audio system with SiriusXM Satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and SD card and auxiliary input jack
  • Keyless access with push-button start
  • power tilt and telescope steering wheel
  • Fully electronic top on the convertible that can be lowered remotely using the key fob

If you've got a little extra cash and want to include the goodies shown at the North American International Auto Show, it'll cost you $73,360. The options include:

  • 3LT interior package, with leather-wrapped interior - $8,005
  • Z51 Performance Package - $2,800
  • Competition sports seats - $2,495
  • Exposed carbone fibre roof panel - $1,995
  • Magnetic Ride Control with Performance Traction Management - $1,795
  • Dual-mode exhaust system - $1,195
  • Carbon fibre interior trim - $995
  • Sueded, microfiber-wrapped upper interior trim - $995
  • Red-painted calipers - $595
  • Black-painted wheels - $495

The interior package includes an upgraded Bose surround-sound audio system with 10 speakers (up from the standard 9 speakers), one-year subscription for SiriusXM and an HD radio receiver, colour head-up display, memory package, navigation system, heating and ventilated seats with power lumbar and bolster adjustment, premium Napa leather seating surfaces and a leather-wrapped dash, instrument panel, console and door panels. 

If all you care about is bang for your buck, then skip all the options except the Z51 Performance Package. Ticking this option box will upgrade just about every aspect except the engine, although it does get an upgraded, dry sump oiling system. The transmission gets a more performance-oriented gear ratios (probably a closer ratio gearbox) and a transmission-cooling system. Wheels and tires are replaced by larger, 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels and tires. Brakes are upgraded with larger, slotted rotors and brake cooling ducts. The differential is replaced with an electronic limited-slip unit to better put the power down and a differential cooling system is added for tough track duty. Unique chassis tuning rounds off the upgrades and makes the most out of all the other improvements. Equipped with the Z51 package, the Corvette Stingray is capable of reaching 60 mph in under 4 seconds and pulling more than 1 g in cornering. Magnetic Ride Control active-handling system with Performance Traction Management is also available with the Z51 package but it isn't clear whether it will be available as a stand-alone option. 

All these upgrades are great, but looking at pricing makes it even better (for more information about the Stingray Corvette and upgrades over the C6 Corvette, visit: The Stingray is back! Details about the new 2014 C7 Corvette). At the reveal of the Corvette Stingray, GM said that the base Stingray is already quicker than the current C6 Corvette Grand Sport. Assuming you need the Z51 package to make the Stingray quicker than the current Corvette Grand Sport, that would come to a total of $54,795, which is $2,200 less than the current Grand Sport. You get better performance and higher quality than the current car but you pay less for it! Chevrolet also announced that there will be an even more affordable Corvette, the Corvette Coupe (no Stingray - full post: Can't afford a Stingray? Get a Corvette Coupe!). Considering how closely priced the Stingray and the C6 Corvette are, there's even a chance that the more affordable Corvette will cost the same or ring in a little lower than the current base C6 Corvette and still be better. It sounds like Chevy knocked it out of the park with this one!

Source: Chevrolet


Sunday, 28 April 2013

BMW M6 Coupe - The Ultimate Twin-Turbo M Car!




Motor Trend recently went for a test drive of the 2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe (full post: 2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe First Drive). Before the test drive, they had a chat with Maximillan Ahme who is the development chief. He explained that each of the closely related M cars (the lineup of M5/M6) has a unique suspension. Each car gets its own set of springs, dampers, anti-roll bars, and electronic damping system calibrations. This means that they aren't all equal in terms of performance.




So how do they rank? Well, it should be no surprise that the M6 convertible is the least sporty, with the most touring-oriented suspension setup. What was surprising, though, is where the M5 ranks. It's not the top or tied for first spot. It's not even second. It's third - the only car that ranks below the M5 is missing a roof - the M6 Convertible. The M6 Gran Coupe is second and the M6 Coupe takes first place.




The measurable difference in performance between the M5 and the highest ranking M - the M6 coupe - is small. At Car and Driver's Lightning Lap 2013, the M5 had a best lap time of 3:05.2 and the M6 had a best lap time of 3:04.7 and they both displayed the same handling traits. However, I still find it disappointing that BMW predisposed the M5 to be the slowest, aside from a convertible. I think it makes sense to make the coupe the most sporty but the M5 and M6 Gran Coupe should have been set up equally. Do you think the M5 is in its rightful place or it should be at the top? Sound up off in the comments below!

Source: Motor Trend


Sunday, 21 April 2013

The "M5 BMW should have built" - A 700 hp Switzer Tuned BMW M5




The "M5 BMW should have built" is what Switzer, the Ohio-based tuner, is calling their P700 BMW M5. The new F10 BMW M5 is far from lacking in the power department, thanks to a twin turbo 4.4 litre V8 making 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. The numbers don't tell the complete story though - judging by acceleration test numbers compared to similar cars in the segment with comparable hp ratings, power-to-weight ratios and even some dyno tests, the hp rating is probably closer to what the car makes at the wheels rather than the crank, which is what many people have come to expect from BMW engines. That was not enough for the folks at Switzer Performance though, so they made a few modifications to bring the numbers up a little.




How much is a little? Well, if Switzer is conservative with their power ratings like BMW, then nearly 140 hp. For $6,995, they will take a stock BMW M5 and turn up the boost with a new engine control unit (ECU), replace the stock exhaust with a Switzer one and put in a high flow air filter. The result is nearly 700 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque - up 140 hp and 140 lb-ft torque from the stock numbers. Most of the gains are probably due to tuning and the increased boost but Switzer says that the exhaust also has an aural benefit, which is great because the stock exhaust tone is far too docile for a super sedan. All of this sounds good but is it the M5 BMW should have built? I disagree.

In one of Edmunds' reviews, they wrote: "The front end can feel ponderous, and understeer is way too prevalent for an M car." Car and Driver wrote in the Lightning Lap 2013 feature: "Whether the M5 is braking or turning, this car weighs 4425 pounds. There is only so much you can ask of its Michelin Pilot Super Sports - maybe a few laps of good grip, but then the rubber greases up and the understeer sets in fully," and added about the steering: "Little is communicated up the column from the contact patches and the weighting seems pointlessly hefty." According to the specs page on BMW's website (BMW M5 Sedan - Features & Specs - Specifications), the curb weight is 4,387 lb. when equipped with the auto transmission and 4,354 lb. with the manual transmission. In fact, when Road & Track tested one with the manual, it weighed a whopping 4,525 lb. It weighs and understeers too much and lacks steering feedback and braking consistency. Did BMW ruin this M5?

The answer is yes, in a way. This M5 is really not as bad as it sounds. The M5's biggest problem is its badge - the M5 badge. It is a great car but it's not a great M5. BMW softened the car to appeal to a larger market and increase sales. From a business perspective, they've done a great job and I'm sure it will sell more. They have made it a better everyday car and it is still a very fast midsize luxury sedan with great limits and handling abilities, especially for a 4,400+ lb. car. It's not a great M car, though. A great M car does not need excuses. You shouldn't need to say it's great, considering how much it weighs, how quiet it is, etc. You should be able to say it's great, period.

The M5 BMW should have built isn't the current one with more power, regardless of how much power that is. The M5 BMW should have built weighs less than 3,800 lb. and feels more at home on a track than on the road, rather than the other way around, without having a punishing ride. Are you listening, BMW?

Source: Motor Trend


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Bugatti Veyron Super Sport Guinness Record Review - A Closer Look




The Guinness organization (responsible for the Guinness Book of World Records) recently reviewed the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport's speed record. The car achieved an official (and impressive) top speed of 267.8 mph. However, when Hennessey took his Venom GT for a top speed run - achieving an unofficial top speed of 265.7 mph (about 2 mph shy of the Veyron's) - he pointed out that most Veyron Super Sport's sold to customers have an electronic speed limiter set to 257.8 mph. Only 5 World Record Edition Veyron SS's have the speed limiter disabled. This means that the rest of the cars cannot reach the official top speed of 267.8 mph (without the speed limiter disabled).

Whether this comment was the reason for the review or not, the Guinness organization decided to revisit the record to decide whether or not it still deserves the record. In an official statement, they said: "Following a thorough review conducted with a number of external experts, Guinness World Records is pleased to announce the confirmation of Bugatti's record of fastest production car achieved by the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. The focus of the review was with respect to what may constitute a modification to a car's standard specification. Having evaluated all necessary information, Guinness World Record is now satisfied that a change to the speed limited does not alter the fundamental design of the car or its engine."




There is a lot of truth to this statement, however, I see an issue with it. What constitutes a fundamental alteration? Although disabling the limiter does not alter the fundamental design of the car, it does alter how the car's computer controls the car and the engine and, ultimately, changes one of the car's standard specifications - the top speed. In fact, if you go to the technology page on Bugatti's official website - The climax of the Veyron series: the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport - and expand the technical specifications (shown above), you'll see that the listed top speed is 415 km/h (259 mph). This means that a change to the speed limit should constitute a modification to a car's standard specification. A computer parameter has to be changed to achieve the record top speed of 267.8 mph. Without that change, the car's top speed is 259 mph.

Many BMW performance vehicles have top speeds of 155 mph - electronically limited - even though they can (safely) go faster. BMW doesn't tout these cars as having top speeds of anything other than 155 mph. What other computer parameters can you change to claim a top speed or a lap record? Most modern performance cars gain a noticeable amount of power with an engine tune and many companies offer power upgrades through their performance divisions (Ford Racing, AMG, etc.). Is that considered to be an alteration to the fundament design of the car or its engine? Once you allow any form of modification to a production car to be able to set a record, you're opening the door to a lot of uncertainties. I think the Veyron SS deserves the title, not because changing the speed limit is not a fundamental alteration, but due to the fact that the speed limiter is disabled on a production edition of the car, namely the World Record Edition. However, I think the title of fastest production car should only apply to the Veyron SS World Record Edition, not any Veyron SS.

Source: Motor Trend

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Hennessey Venom GT Top Speed Run - 0-265.7 mph in 2 miles!

5.9 seconds. That's all it takes the Venom GT to hit 100 mph (160 km/h). To put that into perspective, most cars on the market take longer than 20 seconds to achieve the same feat. Entry level sports sedans and V6 sports cars struggle to break into the 13 second range. V8 sports cars struggle to break the 10 second mark. You get the picture. In fact, the Venom GT currently holds the acceleration record for production cars for going from 0 - 186 mph (300 km/h), doing the deed in just 13.63 seconds. In other words, by the time it takes most sports cars on the road to hit 100 mph, a Venom GT would be going nearly twice that speed - and less than a second later, at 14.51 seconds, it's doing a cool, round 200 mph.





That's all very impressive, especially if you're into the sport and know what it takes to achieve those numbers. But the guys at Hennessey weren't after just acceleration numbers. They wanted the all out top speed crown and they built a car that seems to be capable of doing the job. The video below shows the car hitting a speed of 265.7 mph in just 2 miles. The car seemed to be capable of achieved higher speeds, judging by the acceleration towards the end which means that the achieved top speed was limited by the test facility - in this case, a 2.9 mile long runway at United Stated Naval Air Station Lemoore in California - not the car's capability.





Although the test run is unofficial, it is video confirmed. The current record currently belongs to the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport (or Bugatti Veyron SS), which achieved 267.8 mph - just over 2 mph more than the Venom GT - but on VW's test facility at Ehra-Lessein, Germany on a 5.6 mile long straightaway, nearly double the distance Hennessey had to play with. An official run would require the car to go for two top speed runs in opposite directions, with the official top speed being the average of the two. Hennessey estimates a top speed of a whopping 275 mph and, judging by this video, I have no doubt that the car would at least be able to break into 270's mph. The question is, will Hennessey be able to find a straightaway long enough to go for an official run and test what the car can really do? I sure hope so! To learn more about the car, head over to the official website: Venom GT.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Snake Strikes Back! SRT Viper Time Attack sets Laguna Seca record.




A while ago, Motor Trend held a comparison between a 2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (with the ZR1 High Performance Package) and a 2013 SRT Viper GTS (full post: 2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 vs 2013 SRT Viper GTS). The soon-to-be out of production Corvette ZR1 didn't only beat the new SRT Viper GTS, but it also took the title of the fastest production car on Laguna Seca - yes, the outgoing ZR1 broke the lap time record for production cars around Laguna Seca. To make matters worse for the SRT team, the last record holder was a Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR. Ralph Gilles, the president and CEO of SRT, wasn't happy to say the least.

Enter the SRT Viper Time Attack - a more hardcore track-ready version of the new SRT Viper (although not as hardcore as an ACR which is still in the works). The Viper TA uses lightweight matte-black Sidewinder II wheels wrapped in sticky R-compound goodness - Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires. They then dial in "significant negative camber" at all 4 corners to take better advantage of the sticky tires. Lightweight SRT Viper seats further reduce weight, with accommodation for 5 and 6 point racing belts.

To make sure the chassis and suspension can confidentially handle the added grip, retuned two mode Bilstein dampers are used with adjustments made to the factory user-selectable Street and Race mode suspension settings to offer firmer damping than the Viper GTS. Firmer springs are used in place of the ones used on the GTS. To make sure it stops as well as it takes off and turns, the existing (and excellent) brembo brakes are updated. New two-piece rotors with increased thermal capacity are used for additional resistance to brake fade.

The usual track-ready treatment from SRT always includes added downforce and the Viper TA is no different. Carbon fibre rear deck lid and two-piece front splitter work together to provide 238 lb. of downforce for a total of 278 lb. at 150 mph.

The result of all of this? The Viper TA took back the title as the fastest production car at Laguna Seca from the Corvette ZR1, posting a lap time of 1:33.6 (full post: 2013 SRT Viper TA First Test: Ralph's Revenge). The SRT team probably wouldn't have had it any other way.

Although that's a great feat, the current C6 Corvette ZR1 is on its way out of production to be replaced by the C7 Corvette Stingray (learn more about the C7 Corvette here: The Stingray is back! Details about the new 2014 C7 Corvette) and GM has already confirmed that the entry level Stingray is quicker than the current C6 Corvette Grand Sport. The C7 ZR1 will no doubt be a lot quicker than the current one. Not only will it be lighter, more aerodynamic and utilizing a more rigid chassis, it also might be packing about 700 hp (full post: 700 hp C7 Corvette Stingray ZR1 may be in the works!).

But that's not a problem for the SRT team because an SRT Viper ACR is also in the works and a C7 Corvette Stingray ZR1 vs SRT Viper ACR battle is bound to happen. Do you think the SRT team will be able to hold the lap time record after the Stingray ZR1 and SRT Viper ACR come out or will Chevy steal the shortly-held title back? Sound off in the comments below!

Source: SRT and Motor Trend

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Cadillac Escalade Interior Is Going Upscale





Cadillac's lineup just keeps getting better. According to Car and Driver, the next generation Escalade is going to get a unique interior, worthy of a $70,000 vehicle. Although the interior in the current Escalade does not look identical to its more humble roots - the Chevrolet Tahoe - and uses more premium materials, they do share a lot of parts and resemblance. It will get a unique instrument panel and centre stack along with unique control knobs and other "design elements."




The treatment doesn't apply to just the Cadillac. The GMC Yukon will also get its unique interior which means that each full size SUV will have its unique interior. Different interior materials will also be used to further differentiate the 3 SUV's - with the Escalade probably getting the most premium materials. According to Mark Reuss, GM's North America president, the next Escalade's cabin will be a significant improvement over the current generation's.

This could mean bad news for Chevy Tahoe customers because it probably means that prices will have to get a slight bump. However, price bumps are usually the case with the introduction of new models, to account for inflation if nothing else, so I think the unique and improved interior should be good for GM's full size SUV's.

Source: Car and Driver

Ford Focus is best selling car in the world - sign of good things to come?




The Toyota Corolla, one of the most boring and bland vehicles on the market, has long been the best selling car in the world. However, according to Polk, after a survey of world new car registration data, the Ford Focus has dethroned the Toyota Corolla as the #1 best selling car in the world in 2012 (full post: Report: Ford Focus is World's Best-Selling car in 2012). Is that a sign of good things to come?

In comparisons and test drive reviews, the Ford Focus is usually praised for its handling - something the Toyota Corolla can't claim. The sales success of the Ford Focus could simply mean good pricing and/or better packaging and options that appealed to more people. However, there is the possibility that people (finally) got tired of driving cars that are designed to simply take you from point A to point B. If that's the case, this could be a sign of good things to come - people Focus-ing on the driving experience aspect of driving and not just minimum functionality.

Toyota is obviously none too happy about the results. According to Polk's report, sales of the Ford Focus were 1.02 million around the world and the Toyota managed to sell 872,774 Corolla's which puts the Focus comfortably ahead of the Corolla. However, Toyota says it managed to sell 1.16 million units which would put it ahead of the Focus as the best selling vehicle (full post: Toyota Says Corolla is Best-Selling Car in 2012, Not Ford Focus). How could Polk be off be nearly 300,000 units?

Well, it's hard to say. Bloomberg Businessweek is suggesting that one of the reasons could be that there are several cars that are based on the Toyota Corolla around the world, including some that aren't on sale in North America, but have different nameplates, such as the Matrix, Auris, and others. If the sales of these cars aren't included in the Polk report, that could easily be the source of discrepancy.

I think it's very likely. After all, posted monthly and annual compact sales in the US and Canada always list Toyota sales as Corolla/Matrix which means that the sales of the two cars are combined. It's very possible that Toyota is combining all nameplates based on the Corolla while Polk is only counting Corolla sales. Until Polk responds, it's hard to say what the final conclusion is but I think it's safe to say that Ford Focus was at least the best selling nameplate in the world in 2012, although it may not be the best selling compact platform.

Source: Motor Trend

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Touchless Carwash Review (Esso)

I went to get a car wash today and I was very unimpressed with the results. I don't like to use automatic car washes. Touchless car washes usually don't clean that well and I worry about scratches at ones that uses brushes. However, we went on a long trip yesterday and there was a lot of dirt and some bird droppings on the car and I couldn't wash it myself. I don't like to leave these sitting on the car so I decided to go for a car wash. I know touchless car washes leave a little behind but today was even worse.






There were bird droppings left on the door sills and above the handles.






On the back, there was dirt left right under the taillight, along the entire length, and it's the same case at the other taillight and under the spoiler.

I'm not really suggesting that this specific car wash (Esso) is bad. I can't clean everything off the car easily while I'm washing it and I can't expect a touchless car wash to clean as well. This is simply the reason why automatic car washes should be a quick once-in-a-while fix, like I needed today. I personally enjoy washing my own car but there are benefits to doing it, which are saving money and ending up with a cleaner car, so if you use an automatic car wash regular, you should consider doing it yourself next time!

Challenger SRT10 or SRT8 ACR to go against the Z/28?




Well, it didn't take long for the SRT team to notice the Camaro Z/28 and respond. At the New York Auto Show, SRT boss Ralph Gilles told Motor Trend that SRT will soon have an answer for the Camaro Z/28. Ralph Gilles said that the Barracuda, the car that is supposed to eventually replace the Challenger, is not that far along so the answer will have to be a variant of the Challenger. No details were given so we're left to speculate as to what upgrades the Challenger will get.

There is one possibility.. and that's an SRT10 Challenger. It has been shown that there's room for a V10 under the hood of the Challenger. The 2011 Dodge Challenger V10 Drag Pack takes a Dodge Challenger and stuffs Mopar's 512 cubic-inch (8.4 litre) V10 crate engine along with a 2-speed automatic transmission and suspension, chassis and interior modifications to prep it for drag racing (for more info, visit: V10 Dodge Challenger revealed: 2011 Mopar Challenger V-10 Drag Pak).

An SRT10 Challenger would be great for the brand in my opinion. The Challenger has always been viewed as the more comfortable and convenient pony since the return of the retro muscle cars. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I actually like that comfort and convenience seem to have been put above performance to create a great cruiser. But when it comes to competition or sports car enthusiasts, it's always Camaro vs Mustang out of the 3 ponies because the Challenger isn't as competitive. An SRT10 would differentiate the Challenger further from the rest of the lineup and show the market that they mean business.

Another option would be a Challenger SRT8 ACR (or TA - Time Attack). ACR stands for American Club Racing and Dodge has made several ACR variants in the past of their performance vehicles, namely the Neon SRT4 and the Viper. The first ACR version of the Viper included a horsepower bump of 10 hp but the SRT4 (Neon SRT4) ACR and the last Viper ACR received no increase in power so it could go either way. I have no doubt that a Challenger SRT8 ACR would receive a significant increase in power, though. Other areas of improvement included with the ACR treatment are tires, chassis, suspension, weight and aerodynamics.

Whichever way SRT decides to go, there are a few things that you should fully expect - upgraded tires, brakes, shocks, springs, roll bars and aerodynamics along with a significant hp bump and some chassis stiffening components. I, unfortunately, don't expect to see a Challenger SRT10 but I hope I'm wrong. An alternative to going to a V10 for a lot of extra hp would be to thoroughly rework the 6.4 litre HEMI currently in the SRT8 392 - much like the same way Ford did with the 5.0 Coyote to create the 5.0 Roadrunner they put in the Boss 302. There's a lot of room for extra power in the 6.4 litre HEMI but, in my opinion, it would be much better for the car's image to rework the entire engine.

Another area that's very important (and probably very likely to be addressed) is weight. A new Challenger SRT8 392 comes in at around 4,160 lb. (according to Dodge's website) which is about 300 lb. heavier than what the Z/28 is going to be and about a whopping 500 lb. heavier than the now-out-of-production Boss 302. Although the Boss 302 is significantly slower than the Z/28 is going to be, it will always be some sort of a benchmark since it was the first track-focused focused, high hp N/A muscle car since the retro muscle cars came into production.

Will Ford have an answer too? I don't doubt it. I wouldn't be surprised if Ford waits until the next gen Mustang comes out to have a model to compete with the Z/28. It's hard to say, though, if Ford will bring an extra variant (i.e. Cobra, Mach, etc.) or simply make the GT500 (or whatever model goes above the GT) very, very fast. Regardless of the way Ford goes, it's going to be great and I am VERY looking forward to a three way comparison and seeing what they bring to the table!

As for the Challenger, which would you prefer to see, an SRT8 ACR with significant engine upgrades for the addition power or a Challenger SRT10?

Source: Motor Trend and Allpar

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Camaro Z/28 is back!




The refreshed look of the Camaro that's supposed to keep it hot until the next generation is good for sales. The car looks sharper and the rear ends digs deep into Chevy's heritage - the 1967 Chevrolet Impala.. but what's bound to get a lot of people talking is the beast of a machine that is the Camaro Z/28. Chevy means business with this car. No matter how you look at it, this car screams track-ready performance.

On the outside, a larger front splitter and rear spoiler replace the ones used on the run-of-the-mill SS. Flared wheel arches with nearly flush wheels show that the front and rear tracks have been widened. Lightweight 19" wheels are wrapped in massive 305-series tires and larger brake rotors and callipers are clearly visible. But there are even more changes under all the visible upgrades.




There has been rumours towards the end of last year that the 7.0 litre LS7 V8 used in the Corvette Z06 will find its way under the hood of a Camaro. "Leaked" data showed that the engine seems to actually be an option on the Camaro spec sheet.. but it wasn't confirmed until the reveal of the Z/28. The car will come equipped with the LS7 V8 producing "at least" 500 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. The engine will be mated to a 6-speed Tremec TR6060 manual transmission and I doubt it will be offered with an automatic like the ZL1.

The engine is hand-assembled from top end parts including:

- Titanium intake valves and connecting rods
- Sodium filled exhaust valves for better heat dissipation
- CNC-ported aluminum cylinder heads
- Forged steel crankshaft and main bearing caps
- High-lift camshaft
- Hydroformed exhaust headers
- 10.5-quart dry sump oiling system

All of this allows the engine to use a high 11.0:1 compression ratio and revs up to a 7,000 rpm redline, which is very impressive for a 7.0 litre V8.

While the added power is nothing to sneeze at, Chevy also dropped weight via lightweight wheels, brakes, thinner rear panel glass and more. Full details about the upgrades haven't been revealed but what is confirmed is that the Z/28 will be about 300 lb. lighter than the supercharged Camaro ZL1. This should mean that it weighs about the same as a base manual Camaro SS, despite having larger brakes, wheels, and tires, aero enhancements and (no doubt) larger radiator and cooling for the transmission and differential.




On the inside, excellent Recaro seats await the driver and a meaty flat-bottom steering wheel that looks to be wrapped in suede. Air conditioning has been made a stand alone option so that those who just want to save as much weight as possible and focus on track performance can keep it out.




To help put the power down, huge 305/30ZR19 ultra high performance Pirelli PZero Trofeo R tires (first on a production car) wrap the 19" lightweight forged wheels. That size tire is also believed to be the widest used on the front of any production car. Behind the wheels and tires sit massive brakes front and back to shed off speed when needed. On the front, 394 x 36 mm brembo Carbon Ceramic Matrix™ rotors are matched with 6 piston callipers. On the back, 390 x 32 mm fixed monoblock callipers and 4 piston callipers are utilized. This setup saves about 28 lb. compared to 2-piece steel rotors. Other chassis and suspension revisions have been made which achieve impressive feats such as 1.05 g lateral acceleration around corners and 1.50 g deceleration (that's high!) along with consistent brake feel and performance.




All of the upgrades result in the Z/28 being a whole 3-seconds quicker than the ZL1 on average, according to Chevrolet. In Car and Driver's Lightning Lap 2013, the Camaro ZL1 posted a lap time of 2:57.5. If the 3-second lead holds true on VIR (the track that Car and Driver holds Lightning Lap tests at), the Z/28 could post a lap time of 2:54.5 - that would make it quicker than cars like the 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Lexus LFA and Ferrari 430 Scuderia all of which are several hundred pounds lighter and have better power-to-weight ratios with the Lexus LFA actually have more gross power. Now that would earn some serious bragging rights..

This is what the Camaro lineup needed all along. Although the Camaro SS 1LE has already posted better lap times than the Boss 302 Laguna Seca, it didn't seem to have grabbed as much interest or improved the image of the Camaro lineup as much as the Boss 302 did. It could be because the Boss 302 was first to the party as the very quick naturally aspirated car. It could be that the Boss 302 was more track focused and got its own engine while the Camaro had to do with only suspension upgrades (which were very effective). It could even be as simple as more effective advertising by Ford. Whatever the case may be, the Camaro Z/28 is very different from the SS 1LE and should do the same to the Camaro lineup as did the Boss 302 to the Mustang lineup. Will Ford and Chrysler (SRT) have an answer to this? I doubt they will let this go without a competitor. This is a great time to be a car enthusiast!

Source: Slash Gear and Chevrolet

2014 Cadillac CTS - There's more of everything!




More luxury, more innovation, more power and higher efficiency. The new Cadillac CTS brings a lot to the table. The car used to be slightly smaller than other midsize luxury cars and slightly more expensive than compact luxury cars. This allowed it to compete in two segments but it was a temporary solution until Cadillac has a proper compact entry. The ATS is now comfortably competing in the compact luxury segment. Since its release, it has accomplished as much as becoming the handling benchmark and growing sales every month it has been on sale except for January of this year. The car is now larger and more expensive to more directly compete with midsize luxury offerings like the BMW 5-series and Mercedes Benz E-class.




On the outside, the design is clearly an evolution of the current CTS. The current edgy design has been rounded off a la the ATS. The headlights and fog lights look a lot like those used on the ATS with longitudinal LED's running along the lengths of the housings. Unlike the ATS, the grille is less rounded off - more edgy - and the grille occupies a larger portion of the front fascia, like the current CTS. One thing remains true though - the exterior is stunning!




Once you're in, you're treated to fine materials all around. The interior of the current CTS is hardly lacking but the new one is definitely an upgrade. There will be a choice of 8 interior environments and trim materials include aluminum, wood and carbon fibre - all genuine. All models come standard with 8" high-resolution infotainment screens but a larger, 12.3", high-resolution screen is available as an option.






Cadillac's Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system is also standard with USB connectivity and SD card ports. The capacitive touch panel that's in the ATS is found inside the CTS as well. Automatic parking assist and 20-way adjustable front seats that are also heated and cooled are available along with a heated steering wheel.




Now getting to the piece de resistance, the CTS will be available with 3 engine options - the 3rd being a powerful twin turbo V6 to bridge the gap that currently exists between the 3.6 litre High Feature V6 and the 6.2 litre LSA V8. The 3.6 High Feature V6 will continue to be offered in the next gen CTS and will be joined by a new base engine - the 2.0 litre 4-cyl turbo that's midrange on the ATS - and the new-for-2014 twin turbo V6. Engine outputs are: 

2.0 Turbo I4             : 272 hp and 295 lb-ft torque
3.6 High Feature V6 : 321 hp and 275 lb-ft torque
3.6 Twin-Turbo V6    : 420 hp and 430 lb-ft torque

As is the case with well designed turbo engines, the turbo 2.0 litre and twin-turbo 3.6 litre have a very wide torque curve. 90% of the torque is available from 1,500 rpm to 5,800 rpm on the turbo 2.0 litre and from 2,500 rpm to 5,500 rpm on the TT 3.6 litre. Power will be routed via an 8-speed automatic (sourced from Aisin - the TL-80SN) transmission on both of the V6 engines with RWD as the drivetrain option. AWD is still available only with a 6-speed automatic. Cadillac is working on its own 8-speed automatic which should debut later in the model's lifecycle and I imagine it would be available with both RWD and AWD configurations. 

The twin-turbo V6 is available only with RWD and, when so equipped, GM estimates a 0-60 mph time in 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 170 mph. These estimates are usually conservative so I wouldn't be surprised if actual 0-60 mph times are in the low 4 second range. GM estimates EPA fuel numbers as follows:

2.0T RWD       : 19 mpg/30 mpg city/hwy
2.0T AWD       : 18 mpg/28 mpg city/hwy
3.6 V6 RWD  : 19 mpg/28 mpg city/hwy
3.6 V6 AWD   : 18 mpg/27 mpg city/hwy
3.6 TT V6        : 17 mpg/25 mpg city/hwy




The engine is about more than just numbers though. The picture shown above displays the complete engine and turbocharging system. Yes, even including the intercooler. GM did an impressive engineering job at packaging the system. The two turbos are tucked behind the alternator and accessory pump on both sides of the engine. 




The charged air intercooler - a twin-brick cooling module - is mounted on top of the cylinder head and is patent pending. It's influenced by the GM's LSA supercharged V8 found in the current CTS-V. The impressive, ultra-compact design, takes out 60% of the compressed air volume out of the plumbing system compared to conventional remote mounted intercoolers. This should greatly reduce turbo lag. The system reduces charge-air temperature by more than 74 °C (130 °F) while adding only 1 psi of restriction at peak power. For more information, visit GM's new twin-turbo V6 boasts BMW-beating output, brilliant packaging.

GM didn't only add power and 2 extra gears, but also took out weight. The new CTS was expected to drop some weight since it is built on the new lightweight GM Alpha RWD chassis underpinning the ATS. GM is claiming it to be a whopping 200 lb. lighter in entry-level form compared to an entry-level BMW 5-series - the 528i, which equates to only 3616 lb.! Rounding off the chassis and suspension is the Magnetic Ride suspension which is now available across the board, as opposed to being reserved only for the top-dog CTS-V.




Overall, the new CTS improves on all aspects of the current car. Considering how much of a success the first 2 generations of the CTS were, from sales and brand imagine perspectives, this will definitely continue to build on the success. I can't wait until I see one in person and get drive one of them! Until then, here's a video that shows it in motion.




Sources: Left Lane, Auto123, and SAE