Toyota 86 Convertible Pic 2

So few weeks back, I’ve posted about Toyota 86 convertible have been spotted in Africa. Here’s a bit more closer look on that car

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What do I think of it? They need to do something about that 19″ wheels. It’s WAY over killed. Also I’m VERY interested in how it perform not having the top & the weight spec.

Edit:
Looks like vid is finally released!

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Land Rovers With 9-Speed Auto

9… 9 speed auto transmission. Now, that’s a lot of gears! I don’t even know how Lexus IS-F 8 speed is needed, 9?!?!?! Just amazing. Next stop, 8 speed manual transmission!

Reference: Jalopnik

Image converted using ifftoany

The original Land Rover had a 4-speed gearbox from the Rover P3. The upcoming Land Rovers will have a 9-speed automatic they developed together with ZF. It’s clever and all, but I’m just wondering where will it end?

The 9HP transmission debuting at the Geneva Motor Show is far more advanced than the six-speed it’s replacing. The current transmission makes downshifts sequentially, while the new one has a skip-shift function for better performance. There’s also a “Fast-Off” mode that measures the rate of throttle release, anticipates further requests for high power, then holds the gear if necessary. Sounds like you don’t need to press the “Sport” button anymore.

The lowest ratio in the 9HP is lower than the existing six-speed, which is great for off-road use or towing, while the higher top gear improves efficiency and reduces noise when cruising. Despite the extra three gear ratios, it is only 0.24 inches longer and actually weighs 16.5 lbs less than the outgoing box, thanks to a new vane-type pump, two dog clutches and a nested gear set. Designed for transverse applications, the ZF 9HP will be built in South Carolina.

I keep waiting for an 8-speed manual…

Why You Should Brake With Your Left Foot

I, myself didn’t start left foot braking til I’ve start tracking at the local track. It’s something you need to get used to it… but after that, It’s worth learn!

Reference: Jalopnik

Most of my “How To Drive Fast” column is, unsurprisingly, about how to drive fast. As well as posing techniques, some of my pieces offer a glimpse into the inner-workings of motorsport, while others are just plain ridiculous. Siphoning through the bunch, you’ll notice I haven’t much talked about safety. So let’s start now, mixed with a dollop of speed for good measure. Here is why braking with your left foot will make you faster on the racetrack and, more importantly, safer on the road.

Left-foot braking is surprisingly uncommon. You might think that, in a land where 99-percent of cars come equipped with two pedals and an automatic gearbox, most drivers would already do this. Apparently not.

This confuses me. I mean, how many people do you know with two feet? I’m guessing a lot, so if you only have two pedals, wouldn’t it be logical to place one foot on each?

Am I missing something here?

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If you drive a go-kart at your local track, do you use one foot? No. Because you can’t, as there is a steering column preventing it. Does that bother you? I bet it doesn’t, and the freedom to momentarily overlap both pedals makes you faster.

Of course, if you are used to driving a manual car – as I was – then you may be forgiven for using your right foot. After all, it’s how you learnt to drive: left foot for the clutch and the right for the throttle and brake.

Growing up in the UK, everybody drove a stick. In America, automatic transmissions have been preferred for years, so for many, the aforementioned argument for right-foot braking is null and void.

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I’ll admit, many fine racecar drivers brake with their right foot, even in today’s two-pedal cars. Rubens Barrichello was famous for his incessant right-foot braking; he tried, at the request of the Ferrari engineers, to left-foot brake but immediately went back. His reasoning was that right-foot braking consumes less fuel and is easier on the brakes. But let’s be honest; if a left-foot braker wants to save fuel and take care of their pads, they can do so by simply allowing a short time-lapse between releasing the throttle and applying the brakes. Done.

Additionally, passé drivers will state that it isn’t actually slower to brake with their right foot; but, conversely, every engineer will disagree. At speed, the transition from moving your foot from the right pedal to the left takes time, even if you have reactions like a cat drinking coffee. Imagine going 150-mph or more; how far do you think you would travel in the tenths of a second it takes to switch pedals? At least 30-feet. Likely more.

Plus, the ability to dab the brake while keeping the throttle depressed can be advantageous in faster bends, as well as touching the brake to set the front during acceleration out of a long turn when the front begins to wash out.

If you drive a stick, there is no reason why you too can’t use your left foot during times like these. Before the infusion of paddle shifters, many of the top rally drivers would switch between left and-right foot braking, depending on the circumstances.

Don’t believe me? Listen to the late, great Colin McRae explain (if you can understand a word he says).

The real reason many drivers refuse to switch is because it feels unnatural; like writing with you left hand if you are a righty. Unlike writing wrong-handed, what at first feels strange, ends up feeling normal. But, as a driver, you get used to doing things a certain way and it becomes your “style.” Any deviation can often be slower until you fully adapt.

Right-foot braker, Dario Franchitti, stated it’s “Hard to unlearn,” and after an entire career doing it one way, the issue of muscle memory is certainly a valid point. I know when I transitioned, it took a number of days to adjust; but I was still in the junior ranks.

When you first try, for whatever reason, you usually end up pressing the brake pedal with too much force; braking feels jerky and, if you have a passenger, they may even throw up. Initially, it makes you feel a little off key, like you have lost your rhythm.

Learning this technique, as I mentioned, is not only crucial for the racetrack, but it is imperative for the road; reaction times are everything when attempting to avoid a crash. Almost all accidents could be avoided if we had just one more second. Think about that. Just one more second. I’m not suggesting it takes a second to switch pedals, but even if it takes three-tenths, that’s close to a 30-percent improvement.

How many times have we been distracted and nearly rear-ended someone? If you’re honest, probably quite a few. Many of you may have skipped the “nearly” part; or the tool behind you did and crashed into you. Either way, a few tenths is huge.

With today’s automatic cars running prevalent, there is no excuse not to left-foot brake. Transitioning from a manual back to an automatic is not as confusing as you’d think; in fact I do it myself. On the road, we aren’t looking to set lap records like a racecar driver, so there is no reason why you can’t slowly adapt to the unusual sensations. Start off by trying it during a quiet drive, and as you get more comfortable, incorporate it into your daily routine.

Still not convinced? How about this: it will make you faster on the track and safer on the road. Now who does like the sound of that?

Subaru BRZ vs Subaru Impreza Turbo

It’s pretty interesting comparison & sounds like author was enjoying the Impreza turbo more than BRZ. Both lightweight… but one is turbo & other one is NA.

Referece: EVO

Subaru BRZ vs Subaru Impreza 2000 Turbo review

This should have been an easy story to write. It should have been the feature that cemented the BRZ as our new hero, the moment when Subaru reclaimed its place in our hearts as the purveyor of attainable, desirable drivers’ cars. But it’s not, and writing this story is proving anything but easy.

It’s hard because I’m sitting at my Apple Mac feeling bewildered at how a car received with rapturous praise by some of the more excitable industry commentators has just left me lukewarm at best. Hard because the BRZ was a car I’d been genuinely excited about driving and even toyed with the notion of buying. Hardest of all because I’ve just stepped from £2000-worth of 15-year-old, near-100,000-mile Impreza Turbo and found it to be much the quicker, more characterful and more exciting car. Suffice to say this is not the story I was expecting to write.

Let’s rewind. My time with the BRZ starts on a cold, wet Tuesday night. Catchpole, Bovingdon and Barker (along with the rest of the evo crew) have all had their time with the car, but due to other work commitments I’ve not been part of the earlier elements of the test, nor have I had the chance to download their thoughts. That’s good, because it means I’m coming to the BRZ armed only with what I’ve read in the weekly magazines, the odd online review and my own level of anticipation fed by years of teaser stories about it and the Toyota GT 86. Needless to say, I’m expecting big things.

First impressions are encouraging, as the BRZ looks more special than pictures had led me to believe. It’s small, sharp and has more presence than you’d imagine, while the interior design is funky without being too faddish, with the odd strategically placed bits of leather in this ‘Premium’ trim car for an added – and welcome – sense of quality.

The drive home is a strange one. I’m immediately underwhelmed by the motor – it sounds tinny at best, thrashy at worst – but the damping, steering and overall sense of structural rigidity and cohesion is notable. With a few wet roundabouts to distract me on the way, I arrive home a little more positive than when I set off, but hardly buzzing.

Next morning I leave home for West Sussex, where I’m due to meet Nigel Balkham, owner of a standard and very tidy 1997 Impreza Turbo. Despite the mixed emotions of my first 20-minute exposure to the BRZ, I’m still excited at the prospect of spending a full day in this, the one and only example on British soil, even though the journey is mostly motorway. Three hours later I’m parked outside Balkham’s house, thrilled to see how good his Impreza looks, but genuinely struggling to make sense of my indifferent feelings for the BRZ.

To put it bluntly, if you’ve driven anything even moderately sporty, the BRZ’s performance is limp. Its 2-litre flat-four might well be a marvel of packaging and sit lower than a rattlesnake’s gonads for an optimum centre of gravity, but it simply doesn’t have enough power or – more critically – torque to deliver anything like the performance it needs.

Now I know this probably sounds like the rantings of a spoilt journo weaned on Zondas and loathe to get out of bed for less than 500bhp, but I can assure you my size nines remain firmly on the ground. I ‘get’ light, modestly powerful cars and enjoy their infectious enthusiasm for being driven hard. I wasn’t expecting an accelerative fireball, but I was expecting a bit of naturally aspirated zip in the manner of a Renaultsport Clio Cup, which for the record has 197bhp and 159lb ft, weighs 1204kg and is a car I adore.

Sadly, despite similar figures (197bhp, 151lb ft and 1202kg), the BRZ has very little urgency or accelerative spark. Instead you have to cane the living daylights out of a genuinely unpleasant engine that emits a teeth-gnashingly awful soundtrack as you grind your way round to 7000rpm. It’s a passable performer in isolation, but this lack of guts makes the BRZ one of the least effective overtaking tools I can remember. It’s also easy meat for anything with a turbodiesel motor, unless you sacrifice all dignity and attempt your best Kamui Kobayashi impression on the brakes.

The great shame of all this is that the rest of the car is a class act. The steering is direct, quick-witted and very accurate, the brakes have plenty of bite and progression and the damping strikes a sweet balance between tautness and pliancy for a harmonious relationship with the road surface. Its strong grip on dry roads actually means you can carry terrific momentum through the corners without drawing attention to yourself. Conversely you really have to throw it at a bend to achieve a slide worthy of a cornering shot, which is less than subtle and rather defeats the promise of this being a car to enjoy at less than banzai speeds.

As I discovered during my first journey, the wet provides much more scope for enjoying its rear-wheel-drive layout. If anything it’s over-keen to break both traction and lateral grip, so the traction and stability systems can get pretty busy. Switch ’em off and it skates and slithers around nicely, but because there’s so little torque to call upon you have to use the revs, which robs the BRZ of some progression and requires confident throttle application to balance. In such conditions it’s a fun car, but the nasty engine and fundamental lack of performance remain the elephant in the room.

It takes ten minutes in the Impreza Turbo to highlight the BRZ’s shortcomings. This, let’s not forget, is a 1997 car with the best part of 100,000 miles under its optional 16in Prodrive Speedlines. When it left Japan some 15 years ago, its 2-litre turbocharged flat-four had 208bhp and 214lb ft of torque. By the way it rips along some twisty Sussex B-roads, I’d say they’re all still present 
and correct.

This was a car that changed our perception of affordable performance. When it appeared in 1994 it offered Escort Cosworth-beating performance for £17,718 – some eight grand less. I can remember road-testing a very early example for the now long-defunct CarWeek magazine and being blown away by its pace, all-wheel-drive tenacity and unique character. Two years later I ran one as a long-termer on the now long- defunct Performance Car magazine (there’s a trend emerging here) and absolutely loved its combination of all-out performance, practicality and cult appeal.

I can’t recall driving an early Impreza Turbo since, but all those emotions soon come flooding back. Yes, by 2012 standards the interior is a horror show of hard (if hard-wearing) plastics, but the essential character and performance are as endearing and impressive now as they were all those years ago. The sound of that four-cylinder boxer is as appealingly throbby and off-beat as ever and the five-speed gearbox has a satisfying and distinctive mechanical feel.

The Impreza feels light on its feet too, with a nicely supple suspension set-up and an encouraging sense of wieldiness. The steering is a little heavier than I remember, but there’s still that slightly numb zone either side of straight-ahead that rightly drew criticism in contemporary road tests. Nevertheless, you soon feel confident when placing the car into a corner. Start to work it harder and you can sense a bit of scrabble from the front wheels as they claw for on-boost traction, but it’s also throttle-adjustable so you can tighten your line or even induce a bit of yaw from the rear if you want some fun. I’d forgetten this more playful side to the early Impreza Turbo’s nature, so it’s a timely reminder that four-wheel drive needn’t mean inert, prescriptive handling.

What’s most noticeable is the abundant mid-range thrust available from 3000rpm upwards. That 63lb ft peak advantage over the BRZ is compounded by the fact it arrives 2400rpm sooner, so you really only have to tickle the Impreza’s throttle to feel it spool-up and thump down the road. It’s a graphic illustration of how torque-to-weight and not power-to-weight makes for a quick, responsive and exciting car on the road. And if you continue to bang the power-to-weight drum, the other slight issue for the BRZ is that, while it’s admirably light by today’s standards at 1202kg basic, that figure rises by another 60kg once you’ve added the Premium spec and the auto ’box, making it heavier than the 1235kg Impreza Turbo.

I’m not saying the Impreza is perfect. It doesn’t have the BRZ’s tight, direct feel through the steering and its brakes are no more than adequate for the task of containing its performance. Perhaps the biggest difference is that where the BRZ feels bespoke like a small two-plus-not-much seater should, the Impreza is very obviously derived from more humble stock. But the fact that the Impreza Turbo is nothing more than a super-heated saloon car never bothered me in the slightest. Indeed all the attendant practicality benefits made it one of the great all-purpose family performance cars. By comparison the BRZ is more of an indulgence. Admittedly one that you could use every day, but only if you have no need for a more practical car, or if you run it as a second car, which means it needs to deliver something special to justify its place on your driveway.

The other issue for the BRZ – and this is the one most motoring journalists are masters at glossing over – is the price. The £25,000 being predicted as the starting point is a lot of money to spend on any car. Okay, so lots of buyers will get a finance deal rather than shell out the whole lot in one hit, but whichever way you cut it, that amount of money will buy you an exceptional new drivers’ car, as Jethro Bovingdon’s group test has highlighted. And I don’t need to tell you that in today’s used-car market that same sum throws open an Aladdin’s cave of extraordinary metal. Or for a tenth of that you can buy an Impreza Turbo, go much faster and have just as much fun, as Nigel Balkham’s car has just vividly proved.

This should have been an easy story to write. The BRZ should have been a car to celebrate. If STI is allowed to inject another 50bhp and 50lb ft – and combined with the manual gearbox – it could yet be just that. For now, though, this car feels very much like a triumph of hype over horsepower. I feel like the Grinch for saying so, but it’s the inconvenient truth.

I see his view… but maybe his forgetting chassis rigidity? GC/GM/GF chassis are called “watermelon” due to weak/soft chassis. But it’s interesting point of view to read for sure

The Teen Girl Who’s Rebuilding A Fiero Got To Meet The Women Behind The Original Fiero

I’ve read this story last year and she’s still going! Thumbs up on her and full respect!

Reference; Jalopnik

Last year, we told you the story of Kathryn DiMaria, the 14-year-old girl who’s working to rebuild a Pontiac Fiero from the ground up by her 16th birthday. Now, she’s the star of this feature on YouTube’s THNKR channel that showcases her progress. The good news? She’s halfway done.

 

Basically, Kathryn is as cool a gearhead as you’ll ever meet. When she was 12, she convinced her parents to let her buy a decrepit 1986 Fiero for $450 she made in babysitting money. Since then, she’s been restoring it by hand, doing the welding, grinding, sandblasting and even upholstering. 

The video also highlights how her story spread through the Internet, beginning with her posts on a forum and then Ben Preston’s story on Jalopnik. AutoBild named her “Woman of the Year” for 2012, and people have sent her all sorts of parts and advice.

Kathryn even got to take a trip to this year’s Detroit Auto Show where she met two female General Motors engineers who worked on the original Fiero, which is pretty amazing. 

We can’t wait to see what the Fiero looks like when it’s done, Kathryn, as well as what’s in store for your future.

I gotta say, who ever the father or mother is, you raised an awesome daughter!

The Ten Worst Cases Of Cost Cutting In Cars

This list made me giggle, specially last one. Yes, cost cutting to bring out cheaper cars are great idea… to certain extend… but let’s not cut some of the important parts.

Reference: Jalopnik

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10.) No Full-Size Spare

Sometimes all you need is a donut to get you to the repair shop, but we miss the dependability of full-size spares. The problem is that today wheels are so damn big that they eat up way too much weight and space in the back of cars for manufacturers to offer them. More and more car companies are giving up on spares altogether.

Suggested By: CaptAFR, Photo Credit: Matt M 

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9.) Porsche 996 With Boxster Headlights

Back in 1993, Porsche reported a net loss of $162 million, while producing fewer than 14,000 cars. So a new CEO took on Toyota-style production management and cut quality of all the cars, most visibly with the sinful new 911, which looked exactly the same as the entry-level Boxster from the front. Why? Because they had the same headlights.

Suggested By: Mers, Photo Credit: Porsche 

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8.) Porsche 914 Plastic Fuel Lines

For all of its sturdy German reputation, Porsche has a bit of a history cheapening out on its cars. Famously, the 914 came with plastic fuel lines to save money. The plastic would get brittle over time and crack, leaking gas right onto the engine. Not great. 

Suggested By: 1973Porsche, Photo Credit: Joost Smeets 

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7.) Faux Wood

No matter how hard any ‘near luxury’ car tries, fake wood never looks like anything but chintzy plastic. The same goes for fake carbon fiber in sports cars.

Suggested By: ejp, Photo Credit: Toyota 

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6.) Who Needs Mirrors?

Just look over your shoulder, bro!

Suggested By: PhilaDLJ, Photo Credit: Maruti-Suzuki 

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5.) Ford’s Plastic Intake Manifold

We loathe plastic engine bays with a burning passion, but we will admit that sometimes plastic components are lighter and easier to shape than metal ones. That wasn’t the case with the plastic intake manifolds for Ford’s ubiquitous 4.6 liter V8. These things exploded so frequently at 125-150k miles that owners took Ford to court and got a recall.

Suggested By: sammyjay, Photo Credit: agcoauto.com 

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4.) Cheap Mustang Transmissions

Another notorious Ford skimp-out came with their 2011 Mustangs, which got cheap and faulty manual transmissions from China. Cars regularly wouldn’t go into gear, prompting a fruitless NHTSA investigation.

Suggested By: RXEight, Photo Credit: Ford 

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3.) Blank Switches

If there’s a token sign of cutting costs in a car, it’s when you get a base model of a car and there are blank switches. They just remind you, every time you look at them, that you didn’t quite work hard enough to get the top of the line trim. Worst of all is when a carmaker offers a blank instrument panel, as described by reader zeppelin79.

In my 1976 LX Holden Torana the top model came with a tacho, the middle level had a clock instead of the tacho and the base model (mine) came with nothing- just a blank gauge with some markings around the outside and no needle or numbers. Maybe I have the Superleggera version.

Suggested By: The Scrambler, Photo Credit: Ben Harper 

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2.) GM’s Non-Opening Rear Windows

Back in 1975 GM updated their compact Chevy, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Buick cars and made the rear windows on all the base coupes totally fixed to save money. At best, you could buy optional flip-out rear windows.

In 1978, GM went a step further and made the rear windows on all of their intermediate cars (sedans and wagons too) fixed with no option of flipping-out or rolling-down. This was not a good look for the supposedly ‘luxury’ Buicks, and seemed downright hateful of any poor bastard buying a Chevrolet.

Suggested By: ranwhenparked, Photo Credit: Buick/OldCarBrochures 

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1.) The Pinto

Ford could have spent a few dollars more per car to fit a guard to keep the gas tank from hitting the differential in a crash. Instead Ford decided they could save money by paying out to the families of drivers who got in gas tank fires.

Suggested By: CobraJoe, Photo Credit: NHTSA

Is there some other ones you can think of?