Feb 13, 2008 | NZPC

subaru impreza

There’s a huge price gap between the WRX and the WRX STI – a gap that could easily be filled by a car that’s a step up from the WRX, but doesn’t rain on the STI’s parade. Like what Mitsubishi does with the Ralliart Lancer, the STI might get a baby brother.

We asked Subaru NZ for an opinion, but they remained suspiciously tight-lipped. Certainly over in Australia, the rumours have been flying. With around $13,000 between the $42,990 WRX and the STI, there’s room for a sub-$50,000 car with, say, 190-200kW.

Feb 12, 2008 | NZPC

2009 Subaru Forester fqd

We want one with scoops and flared arches

Subaru’s completely new third-generation Forester makes its European debut at the 78th Geneva Motor Show in March. Based on the platform of the new Impreza, the Forester features more passenger and luggage space plus a smoother ride and even more agile handling thanks to a new multi-link double-wishbone rear suspension.

Now closer in size to its Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 competitors, the new Forester is 75 mm longer, 45 mm wider and gains 110 mm in height.

Rear legroom grows by 95 mm, the driver’s eye-line is 30 mm higher, while the load space is now 450 litres with the rear seat up — 63 litres more than the previous model.

The UK gets the 2-litre petrol model in April, followed by Subaru’s new boxer diesel version later in the year. The NZ launch is scheduled for March/April, and its unlikely we’ll get the diesel.


Turbo version will get bonnet vent…if we get it at all

But what we want to know is when does the hot STI version come out with flares like the 1970s? We’ll keep you posted.


Feb 12, 2008 | NZPC

How many times have you wished you could have recorded some muppet doing something stupid on the roads, or even one of your mates pulling an ‘accidental’ burnout somewhere? Near misses and accidents occur regularly, and if you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident with no witnesses, sometimes it can be your word against theirs. This is where the rear view mirror digital video recorder comes in. It automatically starts recording when the engine starts and has real-time recording the playback of both audio and video.

Its built-in 2.5″ LCD has a wide angle view and works in low light. Very little installation is required – it clips onto  your existing rear view mirror and plugs into the cigarette lighter. Video is written to an SD memory card which records up to an hour on a 1Gb card. The oldest footage is wiped as it continuously records. Presumably as well as giving you the ability to prove your innocence, it could provide for some interesting viewing.

Do I spy a market for making a DVD of all this footage? Here’s an example of it in action.

Feb 12, 2008 | NZPC

Auckland-based Ralliart New Zealand has won the opening round of the Production World Rally Championship at the WRC Rally of Sweden held over the weekend.

The first of six qualifying rounds in the 2008 global championship, driver Juho Hänninen (Finland) was able to clean sweep the production category in the Ralliart NZ Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX.

Finishing eighth overall at the WRC event, conditions varied as traditional snow and ice dissipated during the weekend — offering up gravel and tarmac during the 340km three-day test.

With the Ralliart team headed by former NZ rally champion Neil Allport, he confirmed their season opening win following the post-event technical clearance:

“All in all it’s an excellent result for the start of our championship with Juho because it was the hardest fought.  There were over 20 cars in our class, including the new S2000 Peugeot — which is very quick.”

Over a minute ahead of the nearest category competitor, Allport says it is great reward for their efforts.

“As a team it’s a great achievement for us — first time up.  It’s also a credibility thing — it demonstrates we are capable of running cars at this level and justification of what we are doing.  Long term is we can compete at this level; you have to step up to the plate and deliver results.”

Three months until their next round, the Ralliart car is bound for the searing climate of Greece, while the New Zealand crew will return to continue preparing a brand new car for debut later in the year.

“Our objective is to score as many points as we can on the first three rallies as our intention is to switch to EVO 10s at the New Zealand round — so we need to make sure we have got things right.  We controlled what we did here very well!.we had a good handle on the opposition and everything went extremely well to plan even in the difficult conditions we had,” added Allport.

The Ralliart NZ team ran a second car at the event: Indonesian pairing of Subhan Aksa and co-driver Hendrik Mboi finished the event 25th overall — the first time they had seen snow.

Feb 11, 2008 | NZPC

mines r35

We reported before that Nissan’s GT-R wouldn’t take modifications easily. Now it turns out that Nissan has put a series of draconian measures in place designed to stop high speeds and aftermarket modifications to the GT-R. Suddenly we’re less enthusiastic about owning one.

The original GT-R was legendary for its ease of modification – 900hp was a breeze. So, why would Nissan remove the fun? We’re not sure, but Mine’s Motor Sports President Michizio Nikura told Motor Trend that even aftermarket wheels are not allowed. A sensor mounted in the valve stem detects the new wheels and throws up an error code on the dashboard.

Mines had fitted a custom exhaust for the Tokyo Auto Salon, but this caused the ECU major problems. And, it seems that the 180kph speed limiter that is GPS based (it unlocks when you reach a racetrack) will only unlock on approved racetracks, and the user has to navigate through several menus on the GT-R’s touchscreen to make the change. Then, when you’ve finished your track day you’re required to head over to a Nissan High Performance Centre where an expensive ‘safety check’ is performed. Fail to do this and the factory warranty is void.

We think this will serious limit the  resale value of the GT-R, but maybe not the desirability of purchasing a new one. Nissan had built its reputation as being a marque that produced a tunable supercar in the R32-R34 GT-Rs. Now they’re throwing that all away.

Feb 11, 2008 | NZPC
Chris Atkinson Subaru WRC Rally Sweden 2008

With both Impreza WRC2007s scoring points this weekend, the Subaru World Rally Team remains tied for second place in the overall Manufacturers’ Championship standings. Solberg is tied for fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, whilst Atkinson is just behind in sixth position after his haul of points on Rallye Monte Carlo.

“It’s been rather a strange Swedish Rally given the lack of snow but all things considered we’re able to come away with more Manufacturer points” said Team Principal David Richards. “We look forward to testing this week which will hopefully bring advantages in Mexico at the end of the month. Rally Mexico will bring a totally different set of challenges which have always suited Subaru in the past.”

The final day of the Swedish Rally brought the same conditions, albeit the temperature was slightly colder, and the routes were run on gravel from the very first speed test this morning. It was left badly rutted and muddy after the morning’s pass, and, as we saw yesterday, the second running in the afternoon was cancelled.

“We just drove today to finish the event and collect some more points, for us and the team. There was nothing special today and I’m pleased with fourth” said Petter Solberg. “Everyone at the front backed off today I think and we weren’t fighting for position so we didn’t take any risks. The stages were bad again today, and we pretty much ran them all on gravel. I felt the balance of the car in these conditions was better this morning than yesterday, but we had no reason to push today.”

Atkinson and Prevot continued their steady run since losing time on Friday to climb to 21st place overall, having gained 24 positions since the close of Friday’s stages. Finishing the final day’s five stages with some top four stage times, the Australian was left pleased with his progress but ruing Friday’s mistake.

“We really weren’t pushing today as we didn’t need to take any risks” said Chris Atkinson. “I’m disappointed we went off on Friday, but we’ve come back up through the field and still gained a Manufacturer point. The stages today were the same as yesterday, and we saw those at the front back off so there were no real fights for position. It’s been a difficult rally for us, but we take the point and now look to Mexico which will be a totally different event.”

Final results
1. Latvala / Anttila Ford Focus RS WRC 07 2h 46m 41.2s
2. Hirvonen / Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 07 +58.3s (diff. to 1st)
3. Galli / Bernacchini Ford Focus RS WRC 07 +2m 23.2s
4. Solberg / Mills Subaru Impreza WRC2007 +2m 59.4s
5. Mikkelsen / Floene Ford Focus WRC +5m 46.0s
6. Sordo / Marti (Superally) Citroen C4 WRC +7m 13.1s
7. Gardemeister / Tuominen Suzuki SX4 +10m 35.3s
8. Hanninen / Markkula Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +12m 27.5s
9. Ostberg / Unnerud Subaru Impreza WRC +13m 28.5s
10. Ketomaa / Teiskonen Subaru Impreza +13m 50.7s
21. Atkinson / Prevot Subaru Impreza WRC2007 +20m 51.9s
Drivers’ Championship points Manufacturers’ Championship points
1  Hirvonen / Lehtinen 16 1  BP Ford WRT 26
2  Loeb / Elena 10 2  Subaru World Rally Team 16
-  Latvala / Anttila 10 -  Stobart VK M-Sport WRT 16
4  Solberg / Mills 9 4  Citroen Total WRT 15
-  Galli / Bernacchini 9 5  Suzuki WRT 5
6  Atkinson / Prevot 6
7  Duval / Chevalier 5
8  Mikkelsen / Floene 4
Feb 10, 2008 | NZPC

will slotted discs increase the wear on my brake pads

Slotted discs have shallow channels cut in them. These help de-glaze the brake pad, and help the brake to get rid of brake dust which is worn off the pad while braking. Because the channels have an edge (and because they’re designed to stop brake pads glazing) they wear the pad down more quickly.

Slotted discs have the same advantage as cross-drilled discs in that they prevent a layer of water or gas becoming trapped between the pad and the disc, so they improve performance.

Most commonly the slots run in the same direction around the disc, but the image above shows Wilwood’s asymmetrical grooves – slots that are not evenly spaced or in the same direction. This is to reduce potential harmonic vibration under braking and ensure even wear on the brake pads.

For everyday driving, slotted disc rotors might be overkill (even though they look the part), but if you participate in motorsport they’re a recommended component for your braking system.

Feb 10, 2008 | NZPC

should ypu use cross-drilled brake discs

Some high performance cars feature cross-drilled brake discs. Cross-drilling is where holes are drilled through the brake disc. This was first tried in the 1960s on racing cars to make the brakes more efficient (it prevents a layer of gas or water getting trapped between the pad and the disc.)

On the road under normal braking cross-drilled discs offer better performance, but on the track the holes are prone to developing stress cracks under heavy braking when the discs heat up. For this reason, if you are racing, cross-drilled brake discs are not the best choice, but for everyday on-road motoring they can offer a performance advantage over non-cross-drilled brakes.

And they look cool.