Month: May 2015

Wheel Wednesday: Vossen CVT wheels

Wheel Wednesday

Hypothetically, if I was part of the mob or some sort of underground movement, I would need a car that correlates with my image. Have you ever seen a gangster driving around in a Mini or even a Prius? No the car would not match the job. There’s a reason why cars like the Mercedes S Class, BMW 7 series and Maserati Quattroporte are the right fit for people in such positions. Those cars represent power, status and money. The only problem is that those cars are also liked by big businessmen for the same reasons. So gangsters have to differentiate themselves from these men and women, I mean which gangster would like to be mistaken for the CEO of a bank? So how does someone of the underworld do this? Perhaps a change of wheels. Yes, but not just any wheel, it needs to be something expensive and high end, perhaps even gold. Well if you’re a gangster reading this, budding or professional, I have great news for you. The Vossen CVT wheel is here to fulfil your needs. With a hefty price tag and excellent build quality, your rivals won’t know what hit them, unless its one of your men with a phone book, then it’s a different story. Seriously though, the Vossen CVT is a good looking wheel, even if I have to say so myself and the most gangster I get is when a Drake song comes on in the car. This wheel looks so good, it makes for a fitting Wheel Wednesday feature, so there you go. Happy Wheel Wednesday Motorists.

Vossen CVT

Tech Tuesday: Porsche’s funny looking wheel vents

If you like rear engined German cars, you will notice that the only company that uses this platform have come out with a new car. Yes, Porsche has added another model to their range of 911’s and not just any model, but something rather special. The words RS have a special meaning to car lovers, if you want to make a car person salivate say those two words and you will have their attention. The reason being that most manufacturers know that there is a certain expectation when they place those letters on their cars. For instance, Audi’s RS3, Ford’s Focus RS and of course Porsche’s 911 RS’s, specifically the GT3 RS. The car has been anticipated for a while now and it’s finally here. As with all RS’s, this means more power by means of a bigger engine, better handling, more aggression and even better looks. Now the car looks amazing but there is one thing that made me second guess it’s fine lines. Above the front wheel arches you will find something that resembles parts of a George Foreman grill. These are vents and I don’t quite like them. They look somewhat trashy for this Porsche. Mind you the previous GT3 RS’s had Smartie coloured rims and graffiti on the panels, so it’s not like Porsche has been conservative in the styling of these models before.

Despite my disapproval, there is a reason for this out there feature on this car and it’s not for simple styling. These vents create downforce, which is what makes the car stick to the ground at higher speeds. It’s amazing that what we may think is purely styling is something that can double the downforce on a high performance sports car, such as is the case in the GT3 RS. Think of it like cycling shorts, they may look terrible, but they certainly help the cyclist be more aerodynamic whilst cycling. Many technologies have been added to the new Porsche GT3 RS and increased downforce has played a huge role in making this car better than it’s “softer” brother. So if ever  you were asking yourself why Porsche placed bits of a fan to the fender of their car, it’s to make it go better. Happy Tech Tuesday Motorists.

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Modded Monday: Rob Green Motorsport

If you are South  African and  you like your cars, especially you’re not so standard cars, you have most likely heard of the name Rob Green. Back when I was a young lad, I would read the tales of supercharged BMW e36 M3’s that were making 911 Porsches bow down to them. I remember my mother owning an e36 at the time and my brother and I would beg her to go see Rob Green to see if he can’t make her humble 323i faster. Thinking back to that, I now see the ridiculousness of those pleas. A young mother of three with a supercharged BMW in a time when traction control was not standard in those models could have been very interesting, most likely fatal. I wouldn’t be wrong to say that Rob Green Motorsport has been around long enough now for them to be regarding as among the “Daddies” of tuning in the country. Many years down the line,  the cars may have changed, but the philosophy has stayed the same. As mentioned in last week’s Modded Monday, car tuners back then had to basically break their back to achieve power increases in some cars. This was due to the lack of forced induction such as turbocharging and supercharging. Rob Green were known for their supercharging antics but now one doesn’t have to go through such drastic measures to get more power. Most performance cars, small and big already have such technologies in place so now it’s a matter of some bigger pipes here and turning up the boost there. I say this as if it’s as easy as baking a box cake, but obviously there is a science to it all that must be administered properly. If not, engines can go boom very quickly, and nobody wants that do they?

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So what happens when the likes of Rob Green get a hold of a very fast car such as the extreme Mercedes  A45 AMG? I mean just standing still, this car looks a small man on steroids , heavily inked with tribal tatooes and is asking you if you have a problem boet? I wouldn’t mess with it, but Rob Green Motorsport don’t think like me. They have messed with it and they kicked its butt with a simple upgraded exhaust system and downpipe as well as a software tweak. These are the results; 317Kw as opposed to 265Kw standard and 561Nm of torque instead of 450Nm. This package is the Stage 2 guise, a Stage 1 package is also available with a slight difference in power of 17kw less than Stage 2.  Rich people beware, the A45 standard is a car that can make you regret saying “check this out” while driving with your friends. So if you feel the need to get even more power out of your A45, make sure you look at getting more driving skill too whilst you at it. There are many advance driving schools that we can recommend to help you in this regard. For more information on their products go to www.rgmotorsport.com. Happy Modded Monday Motorists.

*Images sourced from www.rgmotorsport.com

Volkswagen’s new Polo GTI

New Polo GTI

If I had never tasted Coca-Cola at all, I would have no problem with Coke Zero or Coke light at that. The same goes for low fat milk, light mayonnaise and Smarties. Smarties? How does that fit in the healthy food category you may wonder, it doesn’t. If you have been a sugar lover for a while like myself, you would have noticed that a few years ago, the taste of Smarties changed. The food colouring was apparently very bad for us so they changed the coating to a healthier one and inevitably they changed the taste of sweets. For someone like myself who knows the original sweets, as much as the current ones are good, I long for the old versions even though they were going to kill me. That is the gist of this article, healthier versions of things that don’t quite taste the same as the original.

The human mind is peculiar though, we thrive on familiarity. If you sit and think about it, light mayonnaise is not disgusting, nor is low fat milk, but because we’re used to the full fat options, our minds tell us that what we are currently consuming is rubbish and we should get rid of it. If we had never consumed an original Coke or full fat milk, we would drink these products and think, “My gosh where has this been all my life! Give me more!”. The poor diet versions of these products are mere victims of the complex human mind. In the hot hatch world the Golf GTI is the original Coca-Cola and despite other brands creating similar products, the Golf still remains many people’s drink of choice.

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After I thought about this, I re-looked at my recent test drive of Volkswagen’s new Polo GTI. I came in with the mindset that Coca Cola has come out with a new version of their soft drink, but was presented by a Coke light with new bumpers. As usual, I to wanted to get rid of it. The car to me felt like I was driving a Golf GTI “light”, it was quick but it wasn’t all that different to the older model. All this talk of a new 1.8l turbocharged engine and more power, for a slight difference here and there. “Why did they even bother?” I asked myself.

Then it hit me, I was approaching this whole thing from the wrong angle. I drive cars, a lot of them, some slow,some fast and some very fast. Some are small and some are huge, some are terrible yet some terribly good. My pallet for cars is one that has had its fair share of Coke, Pepsi and even Mountain dew. What about that person who has never had a Coke? Give that person a Coke light and he will be over the moon. The same goes for the new Polo GTI, this is a car for the young and upcoming youth who is newer to the game of fast performance hatches. For that target market, that 141Kw of power is enough to keep them awake at night, which is good. Hot hatchery is meant to excite and entertain, for who their offering it to, the new Polo GTI will do just that. To it’s credit, it looks very good and the steering feel is much nicer than the older one, a bit lifeless but better for everyday use. As a real life car, the new Polo GTI does the job and more, since it offers comfort, speed and Volkswagen reliability in a more “affordable” package to the Golf GTI. As much as I would take a Mini Cooper S to blast around the track or a tight road, the Polo is the better everyday car. Softer ride, good features and it is a Polo after all. For the enthusiast, you can now have a manual gearbox too, so start exercising your left foot to get ready to dump the clutch.

For this test, I wish I had never driven the Golf GTI before, I would have enjoyed myself so much more since the Polo is really a brilliant little car. A word of advice, if you haven’t driven a Golf GTI before and you’re looking in Polo GTI’s segment, don’t do it, even if it’s a used Golf 6 GTI. I know it’s not fair to compare the Golf GTI with the Polo, but as mentioned, the human mind is a complex beast. If you do, trust me, you’ll wish you never drank a Coke before before.It won’t be the same, something will feel like it’s missing, even though there’s nothing wrong with a Coke Zero…

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Eish Tolls

For years the fight against E-tolls has been on the minds of motorists in South Africa. If you want to see nationalities of all kinds toyi toyi, mention E-Tolls. Each time I listen to the news regarding it, deep down I’m wishing “please let it be stopped, please let it be stopped.” Our wishes have not been granted though, (cued dramatic music). The fight has been lost, if you don’t believe me, #askmusi. At this point, we can all throw our toys, kick things and punch stuff, but whatever we do, the milk is still spilled. So how can we make ourselves feel better? For starters we can look at those that have it worse off than us, for instance, the English. I should say the Londoners rather because they have what is called the “London congestion charge.” How it works is that you pay around eleven Pounds a day to use the car in the city, if you ask me that’s enough to make me walk. The upside about London is that you don’t have to use your car, you can use public transportation, which is where the money for the charge goes to.

So if you, like me don’t want to pay, we need to brainstorm possible solutions. I guess I could use public transport too, perhaps the Metro rail. I really don’t want to get mugged by those kids who skate on the train tracks though. Remember? 3rd Degree had a whole segment on it, it made me never want to use the Metro rail. In all fairness the closest I have ever come to using the Metro rail is that one night I watched 3rd Degree and they had that segment, so I can’t really base my opinion on that. Perhaps I can buy a bicycle, I’ve always thought I can pull off those shorts, although I do sweat a lot so that may be an issue. Taxis are another option, but being part Mozambiquan I may be lynched depending on the connecting areas that it travels. This is going to be harder than I thought. Oh hold on, the Gautrain, aha! That is the solution to my problems, unless I need to go out at night, then I’m screwed. I guess, this is a major economy that is growing and all the first world countries are doing it so maybe R225 per month isn’t too bad. I may have to scale back on the Parkhurst dinners but I’d rather be steakless than be lynched or mugged or be too late for the Gautrain. Apparently I get sixty percent off if I pay my bills in the next six months, whoopee. Eish Tolls

Wheel Wednesday: Pirelli Trofeo R

Wheel Wednesday: Pirelli Trofeo R

There are certain institutions which specialise in doing something very well. For instance, Mercedes is synonymous with comfort and BMW with driving dynamics. Volkswagen and Toyota are known for reliability and Woolworths is known for doing…well everything well. Except for their cashiers, you can never get a smile out of those people. On second thought, I’m thinking of Checkers sorry, forgive me Woolies. Well there are certain companies out there that specialise in taking a piece of rubber and creating something that enables your car to take you from point A to point B. I’m talking about the tyre boys and girls and what may seem to be something simple, is actually very complex. Who would have thought that a marking here and a groove there could make your car brake better, steer better and even perform better. Pirelli obviously knows the tricks to the trade because they have a designed a fantastic tyre called the Pirelli Trofeo R. This tyre has given car enthusiasts more to talk about than the BBC has about the new royal baby.

Is it really that good though? If so what makes it any different to other performance tyres? To answer those questions I would say yes and according to Pirelli, the reason is because of the tread pattern and lack of highly aromatic oils. I’m sorry what? Last I checked an aromatic oil is what was rubbed on my back at the physio, but when it comes to tyres it’s something different. In fact is it a bad thing, nothing great smelling about highly aromatic oils. Apparently this oil is very bad for nature and can even be harmful to animals and have carcinogenic effects. I guess you learn every day. Well the Pirelli Trofeo R does not have this oil in it, which is good, but how does that make it a better performance tyre? It doesn’t. The tyre has actually been designed for track use and is able to withstand a great amount of thrashing so it wears better as well. So if you’re want to go faster on the track, get your hands on a set of these puppies. If you don’t believe a word I’ve just said, watch Chris Harris from “Chris Harris on Cars” prove me right. Happy Wheel Wednesday Motorists

Tech Tuesday: Magnetorheological suspension

Tech Tuesday: Magnetorheological Dampers

Magnetorheological suspension sounds like something that could threaten national security. In fact, I can see it in my minds eye, a super villain terrorising a city with it and a special elite force must come in and save humanity from it. Sounds like a cool movie doesn’t it? Well I hate to tell you that Magnetorheological suspension or dampers is a fancy type of vehicle suspension. The type of suspension you get on let’s say, the new Lamborghini Aventador SV. What does this suspension do? It cures any disease. No I lie, it makes for a super responsive ride through the use of Magnetorheological fluid which is filled in a shock absorber and controlled by a magnetic field. How? Science that’s how. All you need to know is that it makes your car handle very well especially in a car travelling very quickly. You see, if you’re on a track and you’re turning from one side to the other at great speeds, then braking very hard, chances are you’re going to get sick. Unless you’re used to the G-Force of being on a track. Now what Magnetorheological damping does is assist the car to handle those constant changes in direction smoothly therefore making the car handle better. Simple? So if you have a few million and would like to feel how that suspension works, get yourself a new Lamborghini Aventador SV. If the former isn’t possible watch this video to see how the car handles. Happy Tech Tuesday Motorists.

Modded Monday: Unitronic Golf 7 R

If I got a Rand for each time I heard a turbocharged hot hatch drive past me and out of the exhaust bellowed a noise that sounded like a mini super car, I would be rich. Yes, many GTI’s, ST’s and RS’s in South Africa are not standard, as much as their owners might claim them to be. The car culture in the country is strong, young men and women, even older folks too, like to make their vehicles faster. It’s relatively easy to do that now seeing as that most manufacturers have turned to turbocharging their quick cars, so with the right software changes, you can turn a quick car into a fast one. Back in the day, to modify a car was much more difficult, more work was required. As a kid I remember every car featured on Speed and Sound Magazine had a gas flowed head, bigger pistons, strengthened this and upgraded that. Now guys talk about two things mostly, software and downpipe.

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Car tuners have made packages available ranging from “mild” stage 1’s to ridiculous stage 3’s. One of these tuners is a company called Unitronic and they are known for bringing out the “hot” in many hot hatches. Volkswagen’s Golf 7 R is a hot hatch in the true sense, with a 0-100 time of 5 seconds, I think it’s earned the right to be called a hot hatch. What happens when you do a software change, intake change, as well as an increase in the diameter of the downpipe? A lot. Well for starters you car will go from 206kw to around 240kw and your torque will be just under 500NM. That’s enough to annoy many fast saloons and sports cars on the road trust me.

This Golf 7 R is not childsplay, it is very quick but in a very civilised manner. It feels simply like a faster Golf 7 R, the mods aren’t neck snapping and uncomfortable but are rather linear and controllable. This is good because as much as you would like to have more power, you need to live with the car every day. The downpipe also makes the car much louder, so your neighbours will probably hate you. The car has had a slight suspension upgrade which makes for a lower yet stiffer ride. The owner has not only focused on speed and handling only, he has made some entertainment upgrades too. The car is fitted with a nifty factory sound system upgrade which packs a punch. The system is available from Volkswagen but the drawback is that it is fitted where the spare wheel sits underneath the boot. I guess you can always play some tunes whilst waiting for someone to bring you your spare tyre that you had to leave at home. If that’s the case, pray you’re alone and not with your wife or husband, as the number of “I told you so’s” you will hear, will be louder than your sound system.

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You would think the owner of this car is an irresponsible man who trolls the streets looking for races at night, you would be surprised. His daily driver is a Polo 1.2 TSI which he uses to commute to work, the car only comes out on weekends for some track work and events. There is a catch to this whole modifying game, especially on a new car. The issue has to do with factory warranties, which will be voided by the manufacturer if the car has been modified. Recently companies like Oettinger have made a presence in the country as a way to bridge that gap. Their modifications allow a customer to still keep their warranty whilst having had modifications done to their cars. This is wonderful but the only drawback is the cost, which is very high. I guess if you can afford a Golf 7 R in the first place, you’re not exactly strapped for cash though. Happy Modded Monday Motorists.

 

 

Thought Thursday: “How to not crash your car”- managing Under Steer.

Lots of us love speed and we love the thrill of driving!  But with that comes risks.

It’s built within us to go faster and push harder, and harder. What happens when you push too hard? How will your car react and how can you stop it from plummeting you into an old ladies house and killing her cats? First things first, all cars react differently. They have different power, different weight balance and drivetrains, so let’s look at what could happen and how you can expect it. Then you can be proactive instead of reactive.

In this article we are going to look at under steer.

Under Steer

Under steer, no it’s not a new type of Steer’s burger, its something that happens when the car exceeds the limit of grip. So what actually happens?

When entering a corner, you turn the steering wheel a specific amount but the car does not go where you want it to, it might turn in slightly but it will travel in more or less of a forward direction, missing the apex of the corner. Turning the wheel more will not help this situation.Understeer

Mainly FWD (front wheel drive) cars suffer from under steer. Why? Well the front tires have a lot of work to do, they have to turn, and take the brunt of acceleration and braking which puts a lot of stress on the rubber. So if you enter a bend hot, hit the brakes hard and also turn in, you might find you have exceeded the limit of grip on the tires and that tree is getting closer, very quickly.

Under steer is quite easy to manage, and the best way to stop under steer is to reduce speed. If your’e midway through a bend and experiencing under steer, back off the throttle, even completely if you need to and this will reduce the stress on the front tires greatly. This will enable more grip and the car should pull itself around.

If this didn’t work the next step would be to apply brakes via pumping the brake pedal, this will scrub off even more speed, and the pumping will help reduce lock up. You can even reduce the steering angle while pumping the brake and then once again increase steering to get you around the bend, reducing the steering angle will once again take more stress of the front tires and slow you down quicker, but you would need to do this quickly and probably only beneficial on a track with more space.

Learning the cars limits will come with time, but take it easy at first and learn how your car responds. Smooth driving will go a long way in helping keep the car stable. There is nothing wrong with using the brake pedal with force but keep your braking in a straight line for now, smooth movements on the steering wheel and ease open the throttle after the apex of the corner when you see the bend opening out. Little things like these will stop you becoming  an almost two ton block of destruction.

A great book I would recommend Is “How to Drive by Ben Collins” (The Stig) He talks about all aspects of car control in great detail.

Until next time, have a good one!

 

Wheel Wednesday: ADV.1 Wheels

Wheel Wednesday

If Mr. Gatsby was a real person and lived in our era, there are certain things I’m sure he would have enjoyed. I can imagine this scenario in my head already. He would wake up in the morning and drink coffee that was sourced from the blue mountains in Jamaica, take a shower and apply some creme da le mer to his face, proceed to put on his Zegna suit and last but not least, he would go for a drive in his BMW I8. The reason why I say a BMW I8 is purely because it’s so different looking on the road, it oozes great amounts of exclusivity, it has new age Gatsby written all over it. I forgot to mention, the I8 Mr. Gatsby would be driving, would be no ordinary one, it would be riding on a set of ADV.1 wheels. You see ADV.1 is a company that prides itself to catering for the “high end enthusiast”, now if that statement doesn’t make you want to throw your millions (real or imaginary) at them, I don’t know what will.

Yes, ADV.1 is a boutique wheel maker, which is focused on designing original high quality wheels, for high quality cars. If you look at the cars that have a set of theirs on, its always something quite special. I think it’s good that you still get companies out there like this, companies that aren’t afraid to say that their products are for a specific type of person. In this day and age, most car manufacturers are trying to please everyone, but it’s nice that you can still individualise your car if you want to, and do it right at that. The wheel that I’m particularly fond of is the 15R wheel, its a classic design with a twist. What I like about it is the simplicity behind the design, when you put a set of wheels on a premium car, you need to do in such a way that you don’t look like someone who just signed a record deal. I can’t seem to find a price for these wheels unfortunately since the ADV.1 website asks me to request a quote. Although If I was about to buy a set, I wouldn’t be asking for the price would I? The good news is that you can get a set in South Africa by the sellers of all things nice, the Daytona group. This makes sense to me because whilst you buy an Aston Martin, Rolls Royce or BMW, you might as well get you Gatsby on and compliment your purchase with a set of ADV.1’s. Happy Wheel Wednesday Motorists.

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