May 25

The Fun Run with the White Hall Drag O Way boys

I go to a car cruise. Sorry for the long hiatus but real life is seriously messing with my car time. It’s not that I don’t go to events it’s the whole processing and uploading the photos part that I’m terrible at finding time for. So here’s a bit of a photo dump from the White Hall Drag O Way fun run.








Mar 22

2016 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Final Edition

Well, the boys and girls at Mitsubishi have screwed together a final edition of the Lancer Evolution. The drumroll has been played and there’ll be no more evolving of this species.2016_Lancer_Evolution_FE_20

In 1993, Mitsubishi made a decision that now seems obvious in hindsight. They moved the engine and drivetrain from their all-wheel-drive rally hero, the Galant VR4, into the smaller and lighter body of the Lancer. In the process, they created a sensation. Both on the rally stage and on the road.

As the years went by, the Evolution lived up to its name, it evolved. The car went through many changes as time went by. Technologies were added, changed and removed, engines were turned around 180 degrees and the base car supplying the bodyshell even changed a couple of times.

Impressive highlights of the Evolution’s evolution include the straight-line stonk of the Evo III (thanks 16G Turbocharger), the corner exit speed of the Evo IV GSR (introduction of Active Yaw Control), the raw, brutal, racecar-like abilities of the Evo VI.5 Makinen Edition, and the melding of livability with outright handling in the Evo VIII.

In 2007, the latest (and now last ever) Mitsubishi Evo iteration hit the road with the X.

The X was a very different car to all the cars in the lineage that preceded it and in most fan’s eyes, the Japanese giant had gone soft. The car produced more power and increased torque from it’s new 4B11T engine, it’s true. However, the car had lost rawness and character.

It didn’t help that Mitsubishi seemed focused on proving it’s SST dual-clutch box, which was slow to react and clunky in operation in comparison to competitors’ transmissions. It didn’t help that the X’s 5 speed manual was a downgrade from the IX’s 6-speed, not only in number of cogs, but also in terms of ratio spread and shift feel. It also didn’t help that the Cedia on which the car was based was now much wider and heavier than before.

The biggest problem though was the softening of the platform in order to compete with the more traditionally livable and comfortable Subaru WRX STi. In the process, Mitsubishi allowed more body roll to creep in. It allowed understeer to occur at lower limits and it dumbed down and dulled the effects of the Active-Yaw Control, in order to tame exit oversteer. The X lost its edge. It became a man without a land. A lukewarm effort stuck between the competing daily drivable STi and the raw, effective, handling-above-all-else attitude of the IX,  without being capable of either.

Which brings us to here and now. I’ve been offered a drive in the Evo’s Final Edition. I’m told that Mitsubishi intends for this vehicle to be a celebration of the history of the model. A fan service of sorts.

On paper, there haven’t been many changes made to the Final Edition over the standard X.

The interior remains as it always was. The car remains suspended on the same Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers as the last of the “ordinary” Evolution Xs did.


Under the bonnet, the valves have been changed out for the sodium-filled variety, and the ECU has been updated and re-tuned. The result is 226kW of power(up from 217kW) @ 6500rpm and 414Nm of torque(up from 366Nm) @ 3500rpm.

The increases have reduced the 0-100km/h sprint time to 5.6 seconds.

It is punchier in the mid range too, but don’t expect Golf GTi-like levels of seamless delivery. The Final Edition has a lot of lag. There’s a big wait before you go anywhere, and then sudden propulsion forward. The engine revs out to redline, but it does so in protest. There’s an unwillingness to progress around the tacho that makes itself evident both visually and audibly. There’s a strained, scissor-like, metallic sound to the engine and just driving the car can feel like you’re hurting it. Gone is the pleasure of riding the torque-rush through to redline in every gear that was found in previous Evo models.

Step into the Final Edition and you’ll find a great driving position. The Recaro seats hug your body nicely, with plenty of side bolstering. The steering wheel is grippy and pleasant in the hand. Pedal placement is almost perfect and it is easy to heel-and-toe should you wish.


With no money left in the budget to invigorate the SST to the new engine characteristics, Mitsubishi have made The Final Edition available as a 5-speed manual only. The gearchange is slightly notchy, but pleasant enough to shift with. The clutch is nicely weighted, with a short, firm pedal action.


The real proving ground for any Evo is in the bendy, twisty stuff. Point the car into some corners and the discoveries, both positive and negative,  come thick and fast.

The steering is overly light, with a huge amount of assistance and almost zero feeling. It is very easy to accurately place the front wheels where you want them to go, but don’t expect much feedback in the process.

The Final Edition is certainly firmer in the underpinnings than the non-FE version. This makes the car slightly bumpy and jittery, but in no way is it nervous.

The brakes haul the car up extremely well and combined with the new-found firmness of the underpinnings, it is easy to leave braking and turn-in to the absolute last moment when entering a bend.

Mid-corner, the Final Edition adjusts nicely to the throttle, with some lift-off oversteer available by jumping off the right pedal or lightly touching the middle one. From mid-corner to exit, you can leave your boot in and the clever electronic diffs gradually overcome any understeer to send the car into a mild 4 wheel drift on the way out, with just a touch of rear-bias. It’s fun and a change from the standard Evo X. More of a recall to the behaviour of Evos VII-IX and something that the likes of a Golf R(with it’s Haldex system) can’t pull off.

As a driving machine then, it goes some way to being the Evo we’ve all wanted. It still does corners better than anything this side of an exotic costing almost double the price. It’s somehow still a more sanitised experience than it ought to be though. It can be fun, but it isn’t breathtaking. A T.M.E. this is not.

As an ownership proposition, the Final Edition is a flawed and incomplete product.

It has a tiny 55L fuel tank and drinks its required 98 Octane fuel like crazy, the interior is dated and not built well, the engine always sounds strained and stressed and the lack of a 6th ratio in the gearbox makes that all the more obvious when it’s droning along the highway.

Traditionally, we have forgiven Evolution Lancers of sins such as these because of the pure chaotic madness they exhibit. The Final Edition goes some way towards those days with the way it corners, but not as far as it could have or should have, given its heritage. In these days of front wheel drive Renault Meganes that do 5.8 second runs to the legal limit, the Final Edition isn’t hugely fast in a straight line either and feels quite heavy everywhere.

It isn’t manic enough to justify its faults through madness.

You will be missed, Lancer Evolution, you deserved more effort and a better end than this.2016_Lancer_Evolution_FE_19

Verdict : If you want a hero in the hills, hunt down a low mileage Evo VIII or IX. It’ll have more character and you’ll love it more. If you’re after a day-to-day proposition, then a WRX STi, Golf R or Golf GTi is going to be the go. Alternatively, Ford’s crazy Focus RS AWD Hyperhatch is on the way before too long….

Mike Adams for Infinite Garage.
(Photos provided by Mitsubishi Autopress)

Mar 20

2016 Audi TT S

Recently I was given the opportunity to briefly drive an Audi TT S around some familiar and challenging pieces of blacktop.

First impression? The price figure. Holy cow! In Aus, this thing starts at $99,900 plus on roads, then Audi go to town on the options list. Want metallic paint? There’s another 1,400 bucks. Leather seats? Another $800. There’s an S Performance Package (hang on, aren’t we already in the S?) which boils down to 19″ 10 spoke titanium alloy rims, LED headlights, higher quality leather(Nappa), silver coloured interior lighting and a better sound system. How much for these added items? $6,300! It continues…. Want heated mirrors? Parking assistance? High-beam assistance? (who seriously can’t dip their own headlights?). They’re all in a pack called the Driver’s Assistance Package and total up to another $1,100. Oh, and there’s a high gloss pack that specifically makes all of the black pieces of the exterior glossier that is another 1,100 bucks.

For those of you playing along at home, if you tick all the option boxes, you’re up to a figure of $111,400 before you even pay to put the thing on the road. That is some serious moolah and puts the TT S dangerously deep into Porsche Cayman S territory.

Okay, forget the pricing for a moment, what is the actual car like?

Well, it looks pretty great. Pictures don’t really do justice to the amount of presence the new TT body oozes when seen in the metal. There’s very little here to distinguish the S from it’s non-S sibling, but that is no bad thing considering the purposeful but sweet shape it is based off.

Walk up to the TT S and get in and you’ll find an absolutely spot-on driving position. There’s plenty of adjustment in all directions for drivers of all sizes and the seats are some of the best in the business. The steering wheel is just the right size and feels solid in your hands. The interior has an almost aircraft feel to it. There are circular air vents with polished surrounds that contain digital displays in their centres and rows of toggle switches. You’re surrounded by brushed and polished metallic pieces and diamond-quilted leather everywhere. It’s a modern, plush and flashy place to sit and everything is made to make you feel just a little bit special.


Fire it up and the 2.0L Turbo Four hums away, almost silently, waiting for you to set off. Set the launch control and give her a boot full. 210kW of power and 380Nm pushed through all four wheels propels the Audi’s 1385kg to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and onto the 400m mark in 12.99.

Once rolling, the engine has very little hesitation and pulls strongly all the way from 1800rpm(which is where it makes peak torque) all the way to 6500rpm(peak power is at 6200rpm).

The dual-clutch transmission in the TT S has 6 very closely spaced ratios. It responds and changes cogs much more quickly than the previous model and actually works on winding roads well (now). It’s almost a shame that the torque-spread of the engine is such that you don’t need to move around the gears as often as before. In fact, 3rd and 4th of the six speed box is basically all you need on even the tightest of roads.

The Haldex AWD system makes it pretty easy to put whatever the engine makes to the ground. Audi says this system can send up to 100% of the grunt to the rear wheels. On the evidence of my drive, I’d say such an occasion happens very infrequently though. There were no power oversteer antics here. There is plenty of overall grip from the 245/35/ZR19 Hankook tyres. Mild to medium level understeer on corner entry is the norm, while the torque vectoring system grabs hold hold of the inside wheel and points the nose back towards the middle on corner exit.

Overall, the balance of the chassis combined with the outright grip from the AWD system inspires confidence because it allows fluid flow from one bend to another without totally letting go and with plenty of telegraphed signals as to what is going to happen next.

Unlike most Audi product, the steering is reasonably weighted, and only becomes better when Dynamic mode is selected. There’s less sense of “wooden-ness” than we’re used to from Audi, with actual feel on the straight ahead and while turning.

This is all great, but the TT S has a major stumbling block and we’ve reached it now.

Ride Quality : Quite simply, the TT S has none. It’ll shake your guts out and make you fear for your kidneys. It fully crashes into potholes, is nervous over minor undulations while corrugated sections and minor bumps make you feel like you’ve done a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson. It jars and crashes. Unless you live on a well-maintained airstrip that is perfectly flat, you’re going to get out of the TT S with some bashes and bruises.

Audi need to take a look over the fence to Porsche or Lotus(or even their parent company VW) to learn that body control and cornering ability isn’t the antithesis of ride quality. Those brands manage to make their vehicles do both. On this occasion, Audi haven’t and it mars an otherwise fantastic driving experience.

Conclusion :

The 2016 Audi TT S is an amazing machine and a wonderful car in so many ways. I really enjoyed my time with it.

It looks great on the outside. It has a cabin that makes you feel special each time you sit in it. It is reasonably practical in terms of space to throw your luggage etc, it goes like a scolded cat in a straight line and takes corners with extreme ease while giving the driver plenty of feedback through the wheel.

Unfortunately, the lack of ride quality and the extreme pricing make it hard to justify the TT S over the likes of a base Porsche Cayman (let alone the Cayman S), which makes you feel just as special, handles even better, is almost as quick and manages to deliver on ride, all while costing less.

Close, but no cigar.

Mike Adams for Infinite-Garage
(Photos provided by Audi)

Mar 16

2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint

“Kick her in the guts Barry! She’s the last of the V8s”. A classic line delivered in the dystopian Mad Max. A line that references a supercharged V8 Falcon. The last one in fact. When it was originally written, it posed a far flung future in which Aussie muscle cars were celebrated for their rarity. Well, with Holden and Ford both set to close their doors, we’re here now.

So how does the reality live up to the fiction? Answer : This is the best V8 Falcon ever.

A statement that is only made more amazing by the extremely limited resources left for Ford Australia to produce it. The guys and gals in Geelong pulled it off though. With a couple of caveats.

That limited production budget does mean that compromises were made technology-wise. You won’t find any of the features that a lot of modern consumers find ubiquitous in a modern performance vehicle.

There’s no heads up display, nor will you find shift paddles on the auto version. Also missing from the list are things like a modern electric steering system (thank goodness), no fancy brake influenced torque vectoring systems etc.

It’s a simple device, by both price and design, and in my opinion is a better representation of Aussie muscle for it.

Turning your eyes to the exterior, and the Falcon is a great looking car, albeit not a lot different from the ordinary XR8 that we’re already used to.

Ford have run the thing through the paintshop twice to add a black roof and added a minimal lip wing to the boot, plus they’ve thrown on some some smoked 19″ rims from the now defunct FPV operation. A subtle nod to fast Falcons past.

Overall, the design is subtle, a sleeper like affair. It doesn’t immediately sear into your retinas the way, say, a wings and things AU XR8 might have. Nor does it have the presence of say, an FPV GT. Mind you, there’s something about that lack of bluster that makes the XR8 Sprint somehow more solid. More sure of what it is, and less reliant on over the top gags. It’s a business man in a tuxedo vs previous models that were dressed as clowns and shouting for attention.

The XR8 Sprints’ mechanical changes over and above an ordinary XR8 are relatively minor.

In the engine stakes, power has been lifted from the base FG-X XR8’s 335kW/570Nm to 345kW/575Nm. Mind you (as with the base XR8), with the
transient overboost, these are just the minimum starting points. Given the right conditions, 400kW and 650Nm will be seen. The engine is capable of even more than this, but Ford’s engineers worried about the strength and durability of the transmissions given any more.

Given that the transient overboost is only inactive when the hottest of engine and ambient air temperatures are reached, the full 400kW and the full shove of torque will be available more often than not. Only after multiple race pace laps at a track, or on the hottest days in Alice Springs, are you going to have any less.

The rubber underneath the XR8 Sprint (and that of it’s XR6 Turbo Sprint brother) has been changed from the Dunlop tyres we’re used to on hyper Falcons to Pirelli P-Zeros. The P-Zeroes fitted are 245/35/ZR19 fronts and 265/35/ZR19 rears.

Some of you might be scratching your heads(like I was) and trying to work out why a car that was already in desperate need of more rear grip should have narrower tyres fitted to the rear than before. Never fear though, driving it confirms that the compound difference from the new tyres well and truly makes up the difference, and then some.

Along with changing the tyres, Ford Australia has also reduced spring rates and increased the rebound stiffness of the dampers. This has led to a calmer, more comfortable and more stable experience than that offered by the base XR8 model (which tended to feel fussy and flustered when encountering bumps, especially mid-corner). The difference seems subtle on paper, but pretty amazing in execution. You can get on with driving hard, whether the road is straight or deeply bendy, without worrying about being knocked off your line.

The car also turns in a lot more easily than it did previously. Perhaps this is purely an effect of the new suspension and tyres, although it so profound a change in effort required that I almost wonder if Ford didn’t play with the rack settings (can’t get any confirmation from them on this). Either way, it’s an impressive improvement.

The engine is as roary and as punchy as ever. The supercharged 5.0L delivering torrents of grunt from way down in the depths to 6000 revs with nary a gap anywhere. It sounds fantastic doing it too. Get up it from low revs and there’s the sweetest supercharger whine which steadily transitions into a raucous, throaty V8 exhaust note.

Unlike Falcons in the past (particularly in the last couple of generations), the XR8 Sprint is a vehicle which can put that prodigious power down to the ground and make use of it. Nail the throttle and there’s hardly a trace of
wheelspin before the thing launches for the horizon ferociously. You can expect to hit 0-100kM/h in 4.5 seconds or less, while 400m is done and dusted in 12.7.

Like other supercharged versions of locals we’ve tested, the in gear acceleration is impressive. It’s incredibly effortless to make an overtaking move on a country road. You can be cruising along at 2-2.5k revs and still be smashed into
your seat with accelerative forces when you plant your foot. The scenery and that slow bloke in a caravan that you’re passing both blur and disappear.

I didn’t get to try an automatic version of this car. The 6 speed manual variant offers a reasonably heavy clutch with a typical-for-Falcon long pedal movement. The bite from the clutch is quite progressive from the take up point,
which makes it easy to drive, but could also lead to some people riding it. The gearchange itself is solid and short, with deliberate effort needed at the gate ends to push the lever in.
There are a couple of negatives here. Ford have done next to nothing with the interior of the XR8 Sprint and it is becoming very long in the tooth, we’ve had essentially this same dash to look at since the BA Falcon launched in 2002.
Plus, the steering wheel still doesn’t lift as high as it should for the taller of us (a Falcon issue since 1988’s EA), and they’ve done nothing about the slight seat to pedal offset.

These annoyances aside, this is an amazingly competent effort. A more polished version of an already pretty accomplished all-rounder. Family carrier, weekend warrior, tow vehicle, long distance tourer and drift machine.
All at a very reasonable price and put together by Aussies proud to be part of it all. It’s a great combination. One that is seen in cars like this one and Holden’s SSV Commodore. A combination that we’ll be sorely lacking come
the end of local manufacturing here in Australia.

The 2016 XR8 Sprint is the not only the last of the V8s, but the best V8 Falcon ever made, and one that Max would have been proud of.

Mike Adams

Aug 27

2016 Chevrolet Camaro configuration tool online

As production of the lighter, more powerful, more advanced 2016 Camaro grows near, Chevrolet revealed more details to help customers tailor their Gen Six exactly how they want it, including pricing information and an online visualizer.

The 2016 Camaro offers higher levels of performance, technology and refinement, starting at a suggested retail price of $26,695 for the Camaro 1LT, while the most powerful Camaro SS ever starts at $37,295 for the 1SS.

The new accessories visualizer allows customers to view many personalization features on the 2016 Camaro, including interior and exterior colors, wheels, stripes, and accessory options.

“The all-new 2016 Camaro builds on what made the Camaro the segment leader for five years,” said Todd Christensen, Camaro marketing manager. “It will reset the bar in the segment with even greater levels of performance, new technologies not found on any other car in the segment, and more choices that enable customers to take personalization farther than ever before.”
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