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Mk7 Golf TDI Track Review

The local chapter of the BMW Club of America - BMW Club Atlantic - arranges one or two Advanced Driver Training weekends every year (HPDE's). That's where I started high performance driving nearly 8 years ago and where I made great friendships so I always look forward to it. I was just getting ready for the driver's meeting at the last event when one of the event's organizers came to me and said: "We have someone who needs an instructor. Can you take on a second driver?" (I was already assigned another 'student'; a guy with a 525 hp Saleen Mustang. You can read my track review for that one here).

I said: "Sure," so they assigned me this new student and I looked for their car on the driver/instructor assignment sheet. It was a 2015 Golf. I assumed it was a GTI because that's the first one that comes to mind when you hear of a Golf on track. But I looked at it, and it was very clearly not a GTI. I thought it must be a 1.8 TSI, the only ot…

2007 Saleen Mustang S281 SC Super Shaker Track Review

"Who's your green student today?" asked a friend and instructor at the BMW Club Atlantic Advanced Driver Training (HPDE) weekend in June this year. I said: "The Saleen." The response was: "Oh, boy." Mustangs, generally, have a reputation for being more power than chassis. Mustang drivers have quite the reputation for.. how to put this nicely? Taking advantage of said power/chassis imbalance. To make matters worse, this particular Mustang was a supercharged Saleen, with a honkin' Shaker scoop sticking out of its hood. Did I mention it was also a convertible? And the owner was someone who's never been on track before but clearly has the speed bug.

Having had a Mustang for years and driven a few on track, they don't scare me - generally speaking - but the combination of being convertible and supercharged with a new and excited owner worried me a little. Nevertheless, I shrugged it off and got excited about chatting with the owner to find out…

2016 BMW M4 Track Review

Imagine a world where only two cars exist and have ever existed; the BMW M4 and the Toyota Corolla. Assuming cost isn't a factor, just about every car buyer who has even a remote interest in high performance driving would take the M4. There would be no complaints about how it well goes, stops, or turns, how it handles, or even how it sounds. All those aspects are better in the M4; miles better, in fact. Next to a Corolla, an M4 is a super car, and a darn good one. But replace the Corolla with another car in this imaginary world, say a Lamborghini Huracan for an instance, and all of a sudden, an M4 becomes pedestrian. Perspective could make or break a car, even a good one. And that, perhaps, is the biggest contributing factor in the impression that the M4 left on me.

I haven't driven any Huracans, unfortunately. But on the same day I drove this BMW M4, I drove an E46 Dinan S1 M3 and a Cayman GT4. Comparisons to the GT4 in my mind were inevitable, but a bit unfair so I will lea…

Michelin PSS vs Firestone Indy 500 - Track Review

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first impressions of Michelin's PSS vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires. I've run PSS's for several years on the Boss, but I'm trying the Indy 500's for the first time. In short, I was worried about the narrower tires (I was running 285/35/18 PSS but could only find the Indy 500 in 275/35/18) and tread squirm, but I was happy with them up to that point just driving on the street. I had the chance to drive on them for three track days now. So what were they like? After my first session, they made an impression that basically persisted for the rest of track sessions on them. Phenomenal, unmatched value. Now, if value is something that stands out above all else, it typically means the compromise between qualities you want and those you don't is less than ideal, but the value is attractive. This is no different. I'll start with the bad, which really boil down to two: ultimate grip and grip longevity.

Grip is noticeably lowe…

Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. Although not a true "R-comp" tire on paper, it performs like one by the account of every single test and review I've read (down to wear rates...). They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track loads.…

2018 Toyota Corolla LE First Drive - Full of Soul

I had a rental car the other day for a little trip. The car was a 2018 Toyota Corolla LE. My experience with this car is one that I had to share. You see, people say this car is an appliance, it is soulless, it just gets the job done, etc. I never thought I'd say this, but I hugely disagree. It is not fair to the Corolla and does not give the car enough credit. This car is not an appliance, it is far from it. It is absolutely full of soul..

UNfortunately, that soul is a demented, evil, mean, avenging spirit. Appliances are happy to hum along doing their jobs. The soul in this car hates cars, driving, and everything that has to do with either. I think it must have been killed by a car thousands of years ago and has been plotting its revenge on the automobile since then. I know, there were no cars thousands of years ago. But maybe someone from the future traveled back in time and ran them over. Their soul must have lingered on. It sounds a little far fetched.. But I'll ask you t…

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