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


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan

Here it is in all its glory. The coupe stole the lights from those with the early leak and the bright white paint job but this, this right here is the piece de resistance for me. I don't know what it is about fast sedans that makes them so appealing to me. I think it's the fact that a sedan body style isn't as cool or "fast" looking as a coupe. It's there because of function. It has more space and more doors for easier egress and ingress. A coupe is for style. It's for fun. By definition, you compromise on practicality just for the sake of some kind enjoyment. For me, the ultimate enjoyment comes from driving it and a fast sedan means that it excels at everything you ask of it. The same applies to fast wagons. For more information, visit the earlier post: 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Leaked.

For more pictures, visit GM Media website: 2016 ATS-V Gallery. Which one would you choose, this or the coupe? Sound off in the comments below!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A Legend Returns: The 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

I feel like a kid on Halloween night who has just been told he can eat all his candy that night. Or even better, it's Christmas morning and all the gifts under the Christmas tree are mine. I don't even know why because It's not like I can buy this anytime soon but I'm getting all giddy just reading about it. Meet the Mustang Shelby GT350; the return of a legendary name.

There has been many rumours about this flat-plane crank 5.2L V8 "Voodoo" engine that's naturally aspirated. The rumours are true. It has an 8,200 rpm redline. If that's not impressive enough for you, consider this. This a V8. A big V8, not a V10 or V12. It's a 5.2 litre V8. Ford said it will have more than 500 hp. I expect it will be between 510-520 hp. GM said that the LS7 they're dropping in the Camaro Z/28 will have more than 500 hp and ended up with exactly the same amount as the C6 Corvette Z06, 505 hp. The GT350 shouldn't be aimed at the Z/28 as it should be more street friendly but I suspect Ford will still want to one-up the hp figure. That means as close as makes no difference, 100 hp per litre. Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer of Ford Global Performance Vehicles said: “Make no mistake, this is an American interpretation of a flat-plane crankshaft V8, and the 5.2-liter produces a distinctive, throaty howl from its four exhaust tips.”

For those who don't know why a flat-plane crank shaft is special, a short and sweet explanation is given in the press release: "The 180-degree, flat-plane layout permits a cylinder firing order that alternates between cylinder banks, reducing the overlap of exhaust pressure pulses. When combined with cylinder-head and valvetrain advancements, this permits better cylinder breathing, further extending the performance envelope of the V8."

All this American muscle goodness will be routed through a light-weight six speed manual transmission. Helping put the power to the ground as a Ford Racing Torsen limited slip differential. The one that was put in the Boss 302 made a huge difference in corner exit speed and this one will no doubt make excellent use of this car's power. 8,200 rpm, big naturally aspirated V8, more than 500 hp, six speed manual and a Torsen limited slip differential. Awesome.

More interesting bits include an injection-molded carbon fiber composite grille opening that's said to improve stiffness and an optional lightweight tower-to-tower brace. Ford has also finally agreed to put proper sized wheels under its cars with 10.5 inches wide front and 11 inches wide rear wheels. The wheels are extra stiff and light weight 19 inches alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The tires are designed specifically for the GT350 with unique sidewall construction, tread face and compound. Bringing all this to a halt are 15.5 (394-millimeter) inch discs up front clamped by 6 piston Brembo callipers and 15.0 inch (380-millimeter) discs at the rear clamped by 4 piston callipers.

Rounding off the suspension upgrades are recalibrated springs and bushings, lowered ride height, widened front and rear tracks and, for the first time, magnetorheological shocks or MagneRide dampers in Ford speak, like the ones used on Cadillacs, Corvettes and the Camaro ZL1. The shocks are said to be capable of responding to road conditions every 10 milliseconds.

On the outside, the bodywork is unique from the A-pillars forward with a new new aluminum hood that has been lowered and sloped, compared to the base Mustang. It is tightly wrapped around the engine for the smallest possible aerodynamic signature. The fascia has been resculpted to provide the aggressive lower front splitter with maximum pressure. The belly pan is ducted to deliver significant downforce. The hood outlet acts as a heat extractor while also reducing underhood lift at high speed. A functional rear diffuser sits between the quad exhaust tips and increases downforce while providing cooling air to the optional differential cooler. A lip spoiler increases downforce without adding drag. Front fender vents flank the wider front fenders to draw out turbulent air in the wheel wells and smoothly direct it down the side of the car. The grille is designed with individual openings to draw air through the radiator, high-pressure engine air intake, cooling ducts for the front brakes and, optional with the Track Pack, an engine oil cooler and a transmission cooler.

New Recaro sport seats that are different from the ones that were used in the Boss 302 and GT500 are found in the interior and should be equally at home serving daily driving duties or track excursions. Further improving ergonomics is a flat-bottom steering wheel that replaces the standard one and Ford even went so far as reducing or eliminating chrome and bright finishes to prevent sun glare that may distract the driver. A new driver control system allows selection of five unique modes. ChangIng modes affects ABS, stability control, traction control, steering effort, throttle mapping, MagneRide tuning and exhaust settings. 

Those who aren't looking for just performance can check the box next to the Tech Pack. This adds power, leather-trimmed seats, Shaker Audio, 8-inch MyFord Touch® LCD touch screen, dual zone electronic temperature control, and more features. I expect all the new tech and added features should make this car about 200-300 lb. heavier than a Boss 302 but it should have the power and suspension to easily deal with the added weight. I suspect this will post a best lap time of 2:55-2:57 at VIR in next year's Car and Driver's Lightning Lap. I can't wait to see it. For now, here's a video where you can hear that V8 sing..

I wish I could walk to the local dealership and ask them to give me a call as soon as ordering is available. I don't want to give up on (i.e. trade) my Boss 302 yet so it will be a very long time before I can have one. Here's hoping +Ford Motor Company brings a demo out here to the Maritimes and I get to take it out for a test drive, or even better, take it to the track and compare it to the Boss. I'll have one with the Track Pack please. For more information, you can visit Ford's official release: SHELBY GT350 MUSTANG.

Friday, 14 November 2014

2015 Tesla Model S P85D - The World's Quickest Sedan

I love sleepers. A picture of this car could be put in a dictionary next to the word "sleeper". The styling isn't aggressive. The brand, if recognized, would be recognized as an electric car maker not a performance car maker (except for the avid car enthusiast). It's a four door. It even doesn't look any different from the pedestrian Model S 60. And to top it all off, the electric motors noise (or lack thereof) won't be convincing anyone they're V8s or anything with enough power to worry about. That couldn't be further from the truth, though.

This is the fastest accelerating sedan that Motor Trend has ever tested. 0 to 60 mph arrives in just 3.1 seconds. The 1/4 mile passes in 11.6 seconds at 115.2 mph. For a full review and the rest of the stats, go to: 2015 Tesla Model S P85D First Test.

There are a couple of things I don't like about the car, though. For one, the interior. I don't know why every one is going crazy over this centre screen. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I find it huge. It looks like an afterthought; far too large for a car. Every time I look at a picture of the interior, it looks like someone took an oversized iPad and stuck it in the middle of the car. It may be a part of making a statement because of the fact that this car is supposed to change the traditional concept of a car with the electric powertrain and continuous updates. Maybe it looks better in person or maybe it looks better to more tech savvy drivers but I don't like it.

The other thing I don't like about this car is how it performs. It certainly isn't the actual performance (i.e. performance figures/capabilities) but rather how the car achieves those figures. For example, the acceleration times are blistering but 1/4 mile trap speed is very low (for the time), even by AWD standards.

For example, in an earlier Motor Trend test (Comparison: Luxury Super Sports Sedan)
the Audi RS7 did the 0 to 60 mph sprint in 3.2 seconds (only 1 tenth behind the Tesla) and ran the 1/4 mile in 11.6 seconds, exactly the same time as the Tesla. The trap speed? 120.4 mph - more than 5 mph faster despite a slower 0 to 60 mph time and an identical 1/4 mile time. The same story goes for the Mercedes CLS63 S AMG, which is even slightly slower to 60 mph and the 1/4 mile mark than the Audi, yet it crosses the traps at 122.7 mph - a whopping 7.5 mph faster than the Tesla. The Porsche is even slower than the Mercedes but still traps higher than the Tesla. The same applies to the slower Model S 60, which is comparable to a Chrysler 300C in specs, yet it has a slower 1/4 mile trap speed. What gives?

The problem (I believe) is the single speed transmission. Electric motors are always touted as being better than gasoline engines because they achieve their peak torque at 0 rpm (i.e. all torque is available from a standstill). What companies neglect to tell, though, is the fact that torque drops off after that and, like gasoline engines, electric motors have a power curve (i.e. they make their peak power at a certain motor speed/rpm and less power at speeds slower/faster than that). Gasoline-powered cars get around that problem with transmissions that have multiple speeds. The point of this is to keep the engine operating at the optimum speeds regardless of road conditions. Under light load, keep the rpms low to improve efficiency and under heavy load keep the engine at high speed to increase power.

Electric motors, though, have a much, much broader power curve and can safely rev much higher than gas engines. Moreover, electric motors can operate much more efficiently at different engine loads without changing engine speed. All of that means that you can get away with a 1 speed transmission, reducing weight, complexity and cost. The downside, is that you don't stay on the power as long compared to, say, that Audi RS7 which has an 8-speed automatic. The Audi can rev up quickly due to a low first gear to get to the peak power and as soon as the power starts to taper, you change gears and you're back on peak power and then you change gears again and so forth. The result is that you have peak power for more of the time which means higher speeds.

I don't mind the lower speeds per se, although it will change our gauge for power if the future really is electric cars (i.e. when you hear a car has 691 hp, you no longer think trap speeds above 120 mph). What I don't like is the other changes that come with it. Will electric cars ever have nearly as many speeds as gas cars? It would be a waste of money, weight and cost because they don't need it so I would say no but there's something about changing gears. It's engaging and entertaining (hence many enthusiasts lament the near extinction of manual transmissions). It's also great to go over that peak power, change gears, and do it again, again and again.

The electric car will change how we have fun with cars. The noise is gone, the traditional build up of power is gone and changing gears is gone. It will give us something in return, though. A more efficiency way for us car enthusiasts to still have fun. A way to still enjoy driving when the world would rather us not. I do love the Model S P85D and I wish I had one. If the future has as many cars like the Model S P85D when processing oil is no longer feasible as we have Mercedes AMGs, Cadillac V-series cars, BMW M-cars and Audi RS cars today, I say welcome to the future!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Cadillac ATS-V is already doing Burnouts

"Now you see it. Now you don’t. See it all November 18." That's all what Cadillac said under the Youtube video so I'm going to leave it at that.

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Leaked

450 hp and 445 lb-ft out of a twin turbo V6, six speed manual and an e-locking differential, probably of the same variety used on the C7 Corvette Stingray. These details are just about enough to know about the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V to know that you want one. The ATS-V seems to have been leaked yesterday and it looks menacing. The fantastic looking ATS has been chiseled to produce a much more aggressive look that is distinctly Cadillac but the good news don't stop there.

More juicy bits include titanium connecting rods, two water-to-air intercoolers, titanium turbines for the turbos and an additional radiator dedicated to cooling the gearbox and diff. GM has been using Michelin tires on many high performance models and this is no exception as Pilot Super Sport tires will keep this car stuck to the road and suspension roll stiffness has been turned up 50%.

The car should weigh around 3,600 lb and while that isn't lightweight, it's right around what you would expect right now for a small, fast luxury coupe. The M3/M4 cars come a little under 3,600 lb but with the Cadillac's added power, the little additional weight should not be a problem. Judging by the Corvette's performance at Car and Driver's Lightning Lap 2014, this car will probably punch far above its weight its weight. I suspect that, at VIR during next year's Lightning Lap, the ATS-V should be at least as quick as the Camaro ZL1 which posted a lap time of 2:57.5, the same as an Audi R8 V10 Plus.

If I had one compliant, it would be the quad exhaust arrangement which looks a little too similar to the M-division BMW's. I like the look, but I don't like that it isn't unique. Other than that, the car looks great and sounds like it will drive even better. Hopefully, we get to find out more details at the LA Auto Show, which should also include the reveal of another very highly anticipated car. The performance model that has been teased by Ford which is expected to be the Mustang GT350.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

2015 Mustang GT Ford Racing/Roush Supercharger Kit

Remember the 2015 Mustang GT that broke into the 10's in the 1/4 mile with a bunch of Ford Racing parts? Original Post: 2015 Mustang GT breaks into the 11's in the 1/4 mile! A modified naturally aspirated Mustang did a 11.77 s at 116.2 mph and a supercharged one did 10.97 s at 128.9 mph. Well, after Ford debuted the King Cobra Mustang at SEMA, it announced that they will offer a King Cobra package through Ford Racing. Ford says that an early version (of the King Cobra) was tested on Milan Dragway in Michigan and posted an elapsed time (ET) of 10.97 s which is identical to the time posted earlier in the promotional video.

The King Cobra package apparently isn't a single package but rather a group of Ford Racing packages - the Drag Pack, the Handling Pack and the Super Pack. More information about the parts has been released about the included parts which are:

The Drag Pack:

  • Heavy-duty half shafts 
  • Rear sub-frame kit with pre-installed high-performance bushings

The Handling Pack:

  • Lowering springs (approximately one inch lower) 
  • Upgraded dampers (front struts come pre-assembled with the springs 
  • Stabilizer bar kit.

Super Pack (key components):

  • 2.3L Twin Vortices Series (TVS) supercharger assembly, co-developed and co-branded by Ford Racing and ROUSH Performance
  • Six-rib belt drive system
  • Intake manifold
  • Electronic throttle body
  • Air inlet system
  • Fuel rail and high-flow fuel injectors
  • Complete air-to-liquid intercooler system
  • Ford Racing performance computer calibration.

I suspect the parts not revealed yet in the "key components" are just plumbing and mounting hardware.

The good news is: anyone can easily turn their 2015 Mustang GT into a 10 second car (assuming you can afford the parts of course). What's even better is that Ford Racing parts are warrantied if installed by an authorized dealer. The bad news is: the fact that it is a combination of three packs means that it will probably be expensive. I figure it will probably be between $9,000 and $10,000 for all the parts without labour. With that said, it's still great value since you could have a reasonably optioned GT plus all the parts for about $50,000 which will handle and go like stink and embarrass very expensive machines and still have a warranty.

2005-2014 Mustang Lower Control Arms (LCA) and Axle Alignment

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I ordered some lower control arms for my Mustang. I decided to go with the UMI Roto-Joint units because of their claim of providing the proper articulation like a spherical rod-end while avoiding most of the degradation in ride quality. They do this using two different types of bushings, a traditional polyurethane bushing on the chassis side and a unique bushing called Roto-Joint on the axle side. The Roto-Joint is a spherical-like design which uses a pivot ball lined with a greaseable delrin race, which replaces the metal housing in a ball joint and absorbs more shock reducing NVH.

So far, the control arms have been living up to the expectations. I was just smiling ear to ear the first time I floored it. I was in 1st gear and the last time I was that aggressive with the throttle in 1st gear, wheel hop was terrible. Wheel hop is not 100% gone, which is to be expected since you need upper control arms to get rid of all hop, but it was very brief and was more like a mild shudder or vibration than a hop. Not only that, but traction is hugely improved and the rear end feels more solid going over bumps. To learn more about them, visit: 2005-2014 Mustang Lower Control Arms- Poly/Roto-Joint Combination.

Unfortunately, though, I couldn't install the LCAs myself because I didn't have the time to do it before the last track day of the season. I wanted to try it out at the track before having to wait until next summer so I got it installed. I did have some time to check on it over the weekend, though, and found that it needed adjusting. In the process of uninstalling the control arms, the rear axle moved and the control arm was no longer lined up with the mounting hole on the axle side so the bolt could no longer fit. Here's what I did to fix it.

1 - The first thing I had to do was jack up the rear end of the car. Since I usually work under ramps, the rear suspension was fully loaded so I couldn't move the axle. For add a layer of safety in case the jack stands fail, I slid a portion of the ramps under the rear tires to keep the rear end raised. Some people also take out the wheels and put them under the frame to support the car in case of failure.

2 - Unbolt the Watt's link or PH bar from the axle side to allow the axle to articulate more freely.

3 - This is the third step that I did but I don't know if the next step would have eliminated the need for this. I articulated the axle up/down and front/back on the driver's side until I could fit the bolt through the axle mount and control arm. Do not tighten the bolt.

4 - With the car's weight still supported on jack stands, jack the rear end from in front of the diff housing, right behind the flange where the driveshaft bolts to the diff. The housing is long and jacking towards the end of it rotates the axle and allows the bolt holes to line up. Be sure not to jack up too much to prevent starting to support the car's weight from the diff. You are NOT supposed to jack the car from the diff and although some people say they do it, I chose to follow the manual and never do it.

5 - Slide the second bolt in but do not tighten.

6 - Raise the car back up so that you can slide the ramps fully under the rear tires and then lower car securely on the ramps.

7 - Tighten the bolts. Torque spec is 70 lb-in.

I was able to rotate the axle in step 4 so that it lined up perfectly. I'm not sure if having one of the bolts in (step 3) provided a pivot point and allowed the axle to rotate to where it's supposed to be or that was just a waste of time and effort so I would recommend trying that before anything since it takes very little time and if the holes don't line up, try to get one bolt in first. It would be easier if you took out the springs since they provide resistance to axle movement. I didn't do that because I hadn't tackled it before didn't want to add more time to the job that was already starting to take longer than it should but otherwise I would have. It would also be much easier if you had a friend around to lend a second pair of hands, specially if you don't take out the springs. I managed to do it alone so it can be done but it would be much easier with extra help.

It can be frustrating and take a lot of trial and error to get them to line up and when the car isn't on a lift, that can be a huge challenge due to the lack of space. Make sure the car and the jack stands are secure before you try anything and don't attempt to move the axle by applying any sudden force. Also note that this is not install/uninstall instructions. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for replacing the control arms. This is only for attempting to align the axle should it get out of alignment.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

2012 Mustang Boss 302 - Stock vs Heartthrob Flowpack Axle-Back Video

As promised, here's a video comparing the stock axle backs to the Heartthrob Flowpack units I installed a few weeks ago. The video shows start ups, both cold, and a few revs after the car had warmed up. The video doesn't do the difference in volume justice but you can tell the difference in tone with a good set of headphones or speakers. For a full review, go the original post: 2012 Mustang Boss 302 - Heartthrob Flowpack Axle Back Exhaust.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Car and Driver's Lightning Lap 2014 - A Closer Look

Yes, Lightning Lap 2014! I thought they were going to skip 2014 all together but luckily they didn't. I know it has been available for a while in the paper magazine but I am not subscribed so I wait for it to be available online to read it. The full article is here: Car and Driver - Lightning Lap 2014. This is easily one of my favourite magazine features of the year. As always, my car picks aren't necessarily very quick or slow. They simply did much better or much worse than I excepted them to. With that said, I would like to get one car out of the way. The Focus ST.

The Highs:

LL1 (Up to $35,000) - Ford Focus ST: This car made it to last year's feature, Lightning Lap 2013, and it was on my "Lows" list (Car and Driver's Lightning Lap 2013 - A Closer Look). It posted a very mediocre-for-the-class 3:21.4. I said last year that "I wouldn't be surprised if, with more seat time on the track and a true limited slip differential, the Focus ST may be well under the 3:20 mark." The car was hit by misfortune when it was forced to miss the second day of lapping which is usually the day with the fastest laps. They invited the car back and sure enough, the car posted a best lap of 3:17.6, nearly a full 4 seconds off last year's time. Moreover, that's without a proper mechanical limited slip diff (LSD). Where is the Focus RS?

LL2 ($35,000 to $64,999) - Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51: This car makes every other car look bad. With a lap time of 2:53.8, it hugely embarrasses much more expensive cars. I am still struggling to figure out how it managed to do that time. Is it the electronic diff taking advantage of every ounce of traction the car has and putting down the power well? Is it the Magnetorheological shocks doing their job and keeping the wheels pressed hard into the ground? I think this is a great case of a car where the sum of its parts results in performance that far exceeds the whole. The stiffer (57% more than the C6 according to GM) and balanced chassis, the e-diff, magnetic shocks, etc allow this car to punch far above its "weight".

The Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, with a supercharged V8 making 550 hp only managed a best lap of 3:01.0; over 7 seconds slower. Think it's unfair because of the 500 lb disadvantage the Jag has to carry? Consider this, the BMW M4, which is just over 150 lb heavier than the Corvette, has a quick shifting dual-clutch auto and is also rear wheel drive with an e-diff, only manages 3:00.7 which is almost exactly 7 seconds slower. Let that sink in. Yes, the M4 has a power disadvantage on paper, but in all tests, it consistently posts a higher 1/4 mile trap speed by about 2-4 mph over the Stingray so it isn't power that is the problem. The weight disadvantage, 166 lb to be exact, does not result in a 7 second disadvantage. How did Chevy pull that off?

LL2 ($35,000 to $64,999) - Cadillac Vsport: The first thing to remember is that this is the skim version Vsport with a twin turbo V6, not the full fat, supercharged V8 CTS V replacement everyone has been waiting for. Despite that, it is only 2.8 seconds slower than the outgoing CTS V despite a power disadvantage of over 130 hp. Even more impressive, it managed to basically match the much more powerful Jaguar XFR-S (3:06.8 for the Cadillac vs 3:06.7 for the Jag). The Jag makes 550 hp, 130 hp more than the Cadillac, and it also comes courtesy of forced induction (a supercharger) so both engines should have a very meaty power curve. The Jaguar does (once again) carry a large weight disadvantage of 463 lb so that could cost it a lot in the corners but this just further emphasizes the impressive package that is the CTS and how much lighter it is than the competition.

LL2 ($35,000 to $64,999) - Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG: I don't know if this and the CTS Vsport are along the lines of what should be expected due to progress but I'm impressed nonetheless. At 3:05.9, it's within spitting distance of the last generation Cayman S, 911 Carrera S and BMW M3. It's even only 0.7 seconds behind the current M5. When Mercedes/AMG first announced that the car will make 355 hp out of a 4 cyl turbo, I wasn't impressed. I wasn't underwhelmed, I simply have seen plenty of reliable tuner 4 cylinders that make that power. The impressive part is using that power.

The WRX STI, for example, has 50 hp less but also weighs a good 157 lb less (3,388 lb for the STI vs 3,545 lb for the small Merc). The CTS Vsport and Corvette Stingray managed to pull the trick of being faster than the competition while being lighter but less powerful. The STI, though, is nearly 5 seconds slower (4.6 seconds to be exact, at 3:10.5) so unlike the GM siblings which did more with less, the Subaru couldn't even match, let alone beat, the competition. I know the STI and the CLA45 AMG aren't in the same category and probably wouldn't be cross shopped but they should be competitive in performance. Keep in mind that both cars are AWD. According to the article, though, the STI is much more engaging so take that for what it's worth.

LL3 ($65,000 to $124,999) - Chevrolet Camaro Z/28: Is there some sort of a pattern here? Another GM car? I don't know if GM recently hired a bunch of chassis engineers that are really bright, enthusiastic or both or it simply had all that talent buried under layers of bad management. Either way, they seemed to have figured out how to extract a lot more out of a car than others can (with a few exceptions). With a lap time of 2:50.9, it very nearly matches the C6 Corvette ZR1 with the Michelin Cup tires (2:50.7) and the new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, the one with 730 hp (2:50.8). Moreover, it beats cars like the current 911 Turbo S and the non-Nismo Nissan GT-R. Yes, the car wears massive tires and they are very sticky but they are street tires, the likes of which can be found on special editions of other performance cars from different manufacturers. They did lighten the car a little but at 3,861, it is hardly a featherweight or a stripped out street legal race car. There is some chassis magic at GM and I hope they keep bestowing it on future models.

LL4 ($125,000 to $244,999) - Nissan GT-R Nismo: This car surprised me not because of this performance alone but rather its performance on Laguna Seca during Motor Trend's Best Driver's Car feature (Motor Trend Best Driver's Car 2014 - A Closer Look). Out there, it was just over 1 second quicker than the run of the mill (and more than $50,000 less expensive, 55 hp weaker) GT-R. I was expecting a similar performance here, with a slightly bigger gap due to VIR being longer than Laguna Seca. That wasn't the case though. The gap here more than tripled to nearly 4 seconds long, with a lap time of 2:49.4 vs 2:53.2 for a 2012 GT-R.

LL5 ($245,000 and above) - Porsche 918 Spyder: I don't want to say too much here so that I don't take away from what this car accomplished. With a lap time of 2:43.1, it comfortably sits as the fastest car with the next fastest being the Mosler MT900S posting a lap time of 2:45.9. The Mosler could be quicker at the hands of a professional as they said in the test back in 2008 that their skills could not "fully exploit its capabilities." But I'm sure the Porsche would also shave some time off the 2:43.1 lap in the hands of a pro. The point being, it is in the same league. This car is seriously, seriously quick. Judging by the commentary, it seems every bit as quick from behind the wheel but unfortunately, I don't think I would ever experience that.

The Lows:

LL3 ($65,000 to $124,999) - Jaguar F-Type R Coupe: This is the second time I have put this car in the lows. The first being this year's Motor Trend's Best Driver's Car. I will say something; I haven't been fortunate enough to drive this car but I have heard and seen it in person. The way it looks and sounds suggests just how good it would be to drive.. and judging by how owners and reviews talk about it, I can probably guarantee that from behind the wheel, lap times would mean absolutely nothing to whoever is driving it. But since these lists that I put together depend on objective figures, it had to be included in the "Lows." At 3:01.0, the car is no slouch and sits mid-pack among the LL3 class. It is only beat by one car from the lower LL2 class, the Corvette Stingray. The Corvette beats every other car from the LL3 class, though, except for the Camaro Z/28 and even beats half the cars in next class up, the LL4 so there's no shame in that. The reasons why it's on the list are: in its class, the price tag is near the top, the hp output is near the top, it has the best power-to-weight ratio and the looks and the R badge suggest a much faster car.

LL5 ($245,000 and above) - Ferrari F12 Berlinetta: No one in the right mind would call this car slow. But a time of 2:50.8 means it's slower than cars like the Viper TA, the C6 Corvette ZR1 and only 0.1 seconds quicker than the Camaro Z/28 as mentioned above. It is even almost a full second slower than Ferrari's own 458 Italia. Aside from the ultra rare and exclusive LaFerrari, this is Ferrari's flagship. It also happens to have 730 hp. I think I'm right in saying that, aside from the hyper fast 918 Spyder, this is the most powerful car ever to participate in the Lightning Lap. To make matters worse, it is wearing the same sort of tire that the Camaro Z/28 is wearing (Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 vs the Camaro's Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R). So how is it that a humble Camaro that weighs about the same (the Camaro is 11 lb. lighter) with a similar type of tire but a whopping 225 hp disadvantage manage to basically match this Ferrari around the track? I would be surprised if, in the hands of a professional driver, the Ferrari wasn't faster but the results we have here are very disappointing for Ferrari and very impressive for Chevy. I'm sure, though, that if you're one of the lucky few who can get behind the wheel of an F12 Berlinetta, the first time you let that V12 sing you won't be able to care less about its lap times.


Aside from those two, no other cars were really much slower than I would have expected so that's it for this year's Lightning Lap. Overall, I liked this year's feature better (more cars!) and will be looking forward to next year's. With possible cars like the Focus RS, Corvette Stingray Z06, and Mustang GT and GT350 (if that's what they end up calling it), it's bound to be even better.

For a full list of lap times for this year's and previous years' cars, go the following link which will take you to Car and Driver's sortable list: Lightning Lap 2014: Complete Times 2006 to 2014. I'm sure most people would disagree with at least a couple of the cars above so let the comments begin! What cars above do you agree or disagree with you? Would you add other cars to either list? Sound off below!