The Ram's Eye - A Driver's Blog: April 2014



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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Disappointing BMW M4 Start-up and Rev




This is the new BMW M4 which is powered by a twin-turbo 3-litre straight six making 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque which is 11 hp and 111 lb-ft of torque. While that is a healthy upgrade, specially the increase in torque, the engine noise is rather disappointing.. Below is a video showing a 2015 BMW M4 start up and rev.




You can actually hear someone in the background saying that it sounds like a Prius. Many diehard M3 fans and auto enthusiasts in general were bemoaning the switch to a turbo engine and now there's another disappointment, the engine noise. If you have a laptop, I recommend plugging in good speakers, preferably with a woofer, or at least head phones because laptop speakers will make it terrible.

This is the new BMW M4 which is powered by a twin-turbo 3-litre straight six making 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque which is 11 hp and 111 lb-ft of torque. While that is a healthy upgrade, specially the increase in torque, the engine noise is rather disappointing.. You can actually hear someone in the background saying that it sounds like a Prius. Many diehard M3 fans and auto enthusiasts in general were bemoaning the switch to a turbo engine and now there's another disappointment, the engine noise. If you have a laptop, I recommend plugging in good speakers, preferably with a woofer, or at least head phones because laptop speakers will make it terrible.




While no one expects this to sound like the last generation M3 with the free revving V8 (video above), I was expecting it to sound as good as the E46 M3 with possibly a bit of muffling due to the turbo. That's not the case though, as you can see from the video below.. What do you think? Do you think the new F82 M4 (and the M3 since they have the same engine/drivetrain)




Tuesday, 29 April 2014

2015 Hyundai Sonata - Motor Trend's Refreshing or Revolting?




A 245 hp, FWD midsize family sedan with extremely mild sporty aspirations should not have four exhaust outlets. Other than that, it looks much better than the current generation, although that's hardly a compliment in my books because the current generation looks like an over-designed mess. Reducing power seems like a trend with all new Hyundai models now. Someone up there probably wanted to boost all peak power ratings to grab attention while the brand was redefining itself but they are trying to improve drivability now, which is a positive.




Background: Hyundai plans to give the 2.0-litre turbo Sport revised electric power steering system as well as 12.6-inch front brakes (the Mazda6 Grand Touring and Honda Accord Sport have 11.7 and 11.5-inch front brake discs, respectively) and a unique sport-tuned suspension. 

For 2015, HP is reduced for both engines. The 2.4-liter naturally aspirated I4 now produces 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque compared to the 2014's model 190-192 hp and 179-181 lb-ft, while the 2011 model had 198-200 hp. The turbocharged 2.0-liter turbo I4 engine is now rated at 245 hp and 260 lb-ft, compared to the 2014 model's 274 hp and 269 lb-ft.

Hyundai says the engines will be more responsive at lower RPMs. Hyundai didn't just change the tuning on the turbo engine, instead, it went for a turbo with a smaller turbine and compressor wheel which should reduce lag.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Happy 50th Mustang!




Just over a week ago, the Mustang nameplate turned 50 years old. Not many cars can claim the honour and even more importantly, the rich heritage. It found success on the streets, in motor sports and even a few iconic roles. Check out the video below put together by Ford Racing to celebrate 50 years of Mustangs in motor sports.




Ford made sure that no one forgets the anniversary by offering a 50th anniversary limited edition model and only 1964 will be built to pay homage to the year 1964, the year the Mustang was born. It will be offered with every available option on the Mustang GT, except colour and transmission. Customers will pick the colour and an automatic or a manual transmission.  Not only that, Ford also repeated the great feat of putting a Mustang on the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State building - 1,000 ft high.




There is one "gift card" that Ford might not have been excepting though.. a Happy Birthday from Chevrolet and none at Chevrolet other than the mighty Camaro Z/28. Chevrolet admits that Ford created the pony car segment and that its Camaro is constantly improving thanks to stiff competition from Ford. So whether you are a pony car fan or not, a Mustang fan or not, let's join Chevy and celebrate the 50th anniversary of an automotive icon. Happy Birthday Mustang!



Sunday, 20 April 2014

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible




This week, Chevrolet introduced the convertible version of the highly anticipated, C7 Corvette Z06. Yes, the Z06 will be available with a drop top. A power operated tonneau cover will be offered that is identical to the one offered on the standard stingray. The top will be offered in four colours and can be operated up to speeds of 30 mph. It features a thick fabric top with sound absorbing padding and a glass rear window to provide a quiet cabin. 




This is guaranteed to upset a few die-hard fans. Let's not forget, this is a car that used to be exclusive to a very specific group of people. The Z06 was not offered with a convertible top since the very first Z06 - the 1963 Corvette Stingray. According to GM records, 199 C2 Corvettes with the Z06 package were sold, only one of which was a convertible. However, the C5 and C6 Z06's being offered only as coupes and without an automatic option, they excluded many Corvette buyers who may have wanted extra oomph or bragging rights. GM is well aware of this. At the release of the convertible Z06, Chief engineer Tadge Juechter said: "Some hard-core owners liked the idea that it was track-specific, only manual transmission, and you had to be pretty macho to step up and buy one. It created a little bit of an exclusive club. But we are in the business of selling cars to people who love cars, not creating clubs to exclude people." While I like the idea of a more exclusive, track oriented model, I think it's a great move. 




So what do you get when you check the box for a convertible top? Well, you get all the goodies that are found on the coupe plus the opportunity for open air experience on those nice days. These include:

  • Flared fenders to accommodate larger, wider wheels and tires for more grip. All Z06 cars are equipped with P285/30ZR19 front, and 335/25ZR20 rear tires.
  • Standard Z06 models come with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires while those with the Z07 package come with Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires.
  • Larger vents provide more cooling air to the engine, brakes, transmission and differential for increased track capability. 
  • Lightweight, spin-cast aluminum wheels - 19 x 10 inches in front and 20 x 12 inches in the rear. 
  • Two-piece steel rotors, measuring 14.6 x 1.3-inch (371 x 33 mm) front and 14.4 x 1-inch (365 x 25 mm) rear, with aluminum six-piston and four-piston fixed calipers, respectively.
  • The Z07 package adds larger, 15.5 x 1.4-inch (394 x 36 mm) front and 15.3 x 1.3-inch (388 x 33 mm) carbon ceramic-matrix brake rotors for consistent performance lap after lap. They collectively save 23 lbs (10 kg) over the standard Z06 rotors.
  • Both Z06 coupe and convertible will be available with one of three, increasing levels of aerodynamic downforce:
  • The standard Z06 features a front splitter, spats around the front wheel openings, a unique carbon-fibre hood with a larger vent, and rear spoiler,
  • An available carbon-fibre aero package delivers aerodynamic downforce four times greater than the standard Z06. It adds a carbon fibre front splitter with aviation-style winglets, carbon fibre rocker panels, and a larger rear spoiler with a fixed wickerbill – a small, vertical tab at the edge of the spoiler that significantly increases downforce. The package is available in black or a visible carbon-fiber finish
  • The available Z07 package adds larger winglets to the front splitter, along with an adjustable, see-through center section on the rear spoiler enabling customers to tailor the aerodynamics to their preference.

And, of course, the party piece is the supercharged 6.2L supercharged V8 that is said to make "at least" 625 hp and 635 lb-ft of torque, which will make this the most powerful convertible Chevrolet has ever built. Like the standard, naturally aspirated 6.2L V8, this engine also incorporates direct injection, active fuel management (cylinder deactivation) and continuously variable valve timing. It can be mated to a seven-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Match or the all-new 8L90 eight speed paddle-shift automatic, which GM says can shift 0.08 seconds quicker than Porsche's PDK.


Compared to the Corvette Stingray, the Corvette Z06 fenders are 2.2 in (56 mm) wider at the front, and 3.15 (80 mm) in at the rear. Those extensions give the Corvette Z06 a wider, lower appearance further emphasized by a unique rear fascia. It incorporates the same taillamp assemblies as the Stingray, but on the Z06 the taillamps are pushed approximately 3 in (76 mm) farther apart, toward to edges of the body.

The convertible top requires minor changes. The air intakes for the differential and transmission cooler had to be relocated from the rear quarter panels to the underbody to accommodated the tonneau cover. The only structural differences are the provisions for mounting the power folding top and repositioned seat belt mounts.

Unless you are looking for the last few tenths on a track, you don't need to worry about structural rigidity either. This Z06 convertible is 20% stiffer than the last (C6) Corvette Z06. Tadge, the chief engineer, assures that the Corvette Z06 convertible is the variant on which all the engineering work was based. "With the big wheels and tires, high braking forces, stiff springs, stiff bars, aggressive shock valving—all those things that contribute to higher loads in the chassis—this is actually the model that drove a lot of the C7's structural requirements in terms of durability, ride comfort, performance, and track worthiness."




The new Z06 convertible shouldn't only attract new fans, but it could also save couples a few arguments. At the release, Tadge said: "I know many, many customers who, between a couple, couldn't agree on a Z06 because one of the two didn't want a manual transmission or one wanted a convertible for the parade or Friday-night rides or whatever. They just could not agree." 

What do you think? Would you consider a convertible Corvette Z06? Do you think it's a good idea to offer the Z06 as a convertible or Chevrolet should have kept it as a coupe only? Let me know what you think in the comments below!