Tag Archives: subaru impreza

Ken Block Gymkhana 5 – San Francisco

It’s been a long time coming, but the latest in the Ken Block Gymkhana series is here. With 650 hp in his Ford Fiesta (the Subaru Impreza will always be cooler still to me) and the empty streets of San Francisco to play around in, hooning has never been better. I have to say that the use of the “Matrix” style cameras is really cool, but a flying drift is also very spectacular indeed.

 

Minneapolis Auto Show

Once again, it was the time of year for the Minneapolis Auto Show, and once again, it continued to get smaller. This year, the show didn’t even cover the entire convention center floor like it has in the past, but nothing really felt like it was missing. I’m pretty sure they simply crammed the cars closer together, but I don’t see the reason for it. Maybe by not renting out the space, they could save on costs… whoever they is I guess. Regardless, there were some decent vehicles, and some surprises as well. For instance, I did not expect to see the SLS or the Fiat 500 or the A8 W12 at the show. I was expecting the R8, but not the convertible, and I guess I didn’t really expect to see the new STi sedan there either, but I’m glad it was because it really overshadowed the Evo that was sitting right behind it. In fact, other than the horrible STi seats (which the Evo clearly comes out on top in that battle thanks to its Recaros) the Subaru is the more aggressive looking vehicle, and it showed. When I was there, people were all over it, while the Evo was sort of lost in the shuffle behind it.

Porsche Panamera

Porsche Panamera

Porsche Panamera

Porsche Panamera

Corvette ZR-1

Corvette ZR-1

Corvette ZR-1

Corvette ZR-1

Corvette Concept Car

Corvette Concept Car

Corvette Concept Car

Corvette Concept Car

Lexus CT200h

Lexus CT200h

Lexus CT200h

Lexus CT200h

Lotus Evora

Lotus Evora

Lotus Evora

Lotus Evora

Ferrari F430 Spider

Ferrari F430 Spider

Ferrari F430 Spider Bentley Continental GT

Ferrari F430 Spider Bentley Continental GT

Ferrari F430 Spider Bentley Continental GT

Ferrari F430 Spider Bentley Continental GT

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Fiat 500

Fiat 500

Fiat 500

Fiat 500

Honda CRZ Race Car

Honda CRZ Race Car

Honda CRZ Race Car

Honda CRZ Race Car

Honda CRZ Race Car

Honda CRZ Race Car

BMW X5M

BMW X5M

Mercedes SLS AMG

Mercedes SLS AMG

Mercedes SLS AMG

Mercedes SLS AMG

Mercedes SLS AMG

Mercedes SLS AMG

Mercedes GLK Racer

Mercedes GLK Racer

Mercedes GLK Racer

Mercedes GLK Racer

Mercedes GLK Racer

Mercedes GLK Racer

Mercedes GLK Racer

Mercedes GLK Racer

Audi A8 W12

Audi A8 W12

Audi A8 W12

Audi A8 W12

Audi A7

Audi A7

Audi R8 Convertible

Audi R8 Convertible

Audi R8 Convertible

Audi R8 Convertible

Audi R8 Convertible

Audi R8 Convertible

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo

Subaru Impreza WRX STi

Subaru Impreza WRX STi

Subaru Impreza WRX STi

Subaru Impreza WRX STi

Ken Block Gymkhana Three, Part Two

This is the newly released Ken Block video. It features burning rubber, lots of sideways action, multiple camera angles, big drifts, flames and a lot of production value. Take a few minutes to check it out. Trust me, it’s well worth your time. The only problem I have with it is that the Ford he uses is no substitute for the great Subaru Impreza that he used to rock. Well, you can’t win them all I guess. But it is still one hell of a video.

Top Gear 13.3

Last Sunday’s episode of Top Gear (that I just watched last night) was a pretty good episode. And it wasn’t for the fact that there was a small car face off or a big AMG driving around their track. No. It was all because of James May’s eyes as he rode in Ken Block’s Monster Subaru Impreza going over a jump. I have to admit, that I was sitting with my mouth open the whole time, and I have seen both of Ken’s previous gymkhana episodes.

This week’s episode started off with a car that I was genuinely excited about seeing. The Mercedes SL65 AMG Black. The number is irrelevant as it only has a 6 liter V12, but it has 650 horsepower and over 700 foot pounds of torque to propel it forward. And of course, Jeremy described it as rubbish. Now, I have never, and will never, get to drive one of these, but I am fairly certain that Jeremy is the wrong sort of chap to be driving this thing. I don’t know of many older gents that will be putting on their loafers, driving gloves and wool caps and then sitting snugly into a one-piece carbon fiber seat. Although, if Clarkson describes something as rubbish, it usually is. As a sort of mini test to go along with it, they brought out a McLaren SLR and had a tiny race. Of course the soundtrack of the SLR dominated the puny sounding Black, but it kept up reasonably well even though it wasn’t as expensive. In the end I wish they had done the good old fashioned drag race, but the outcome of that would have been the SLR in first, Black in second.

Then it was on to the small car challenge. The boys had to go out and find cars that were cheap and that were good. The cars they came up with, the Perodua Myvi, Chevy Aveo and Proton Satria, were all completely, completely horrible. They were plasticky and loud and boomy and had bad steering and brakes and I could go on but won’t. All in all, they were downright embarrassing as actual vehicles. So the boys were then sent back to try and find three small, cheap cars that were actually good. But that came later in the show.

The guest was someone British, and therefore, someone I had never heard of. But he was entertaining and did a very enthusiastic lap of the track. At Gambon corner, he almost flipped the car just like Michael almost did. Overall, I would say that the guest (I even forget his name) was one of the more entertaining in a long time.

Then it was on to what was the highlight of the show for me. James came all the way to California to ride in the Subaru that Ken Block made famous. It is basically a third gymkhana vehicle without there actually being a third one on the Internet. At first, James is enjoying the moment and doesn’t seem too phased by the acceleration, but as soon as Ken pulls the handbrake and drifts around the first corner, James finds out that he is in for a very extreme ride. I must say that I think this video is even better than gymkhana number two, but not as visceral as the first video. However, I’m not sure if James got some of his facts wrong, but I think that the Subaru Impreza in the video has more than the 380 horsepower he says it does. But then again, I just looked over the last gymkhana video and the exhaust placement is different so maybe it is a totally different car. Well, whatever the case, it is sure to be a big boost for the American rally scene and will certainly boost Ken’s worldwide status. And the kicker is that when they cut back to the boys in the hanger, Clarkson was heard to say that Ken would be at their track later in the year!! I don’t know if that means he will be a guest of doing demonstration runs or just there for a non-televised showing, but by god it had better be another Top Gear segment.

For the final test, the boys found three cheap cars that are actually good. Clarkson turned up in a Skoda Roomster, May turned up in a very forward thinking Toyota IQ and Richard Hammond showed up in the very stylish Alfa Romeo Mito. Their challenges consisted of a drag race, NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) testing and getting a dog into the vehicle and doing a lap of the track. The Mito came in first, second and third respectively, the IQ; second, first and second and the Roomster third, third and first. So based on those results, the IQ is the best to get. However, when the boys took their cars out into the real world, the challenge was the first person to see another person driving their vehicle was the winner. As they took to the streets in Notting Hill, they found that apparently, if you want a small, cheap, good looking car, the one out of the three to get….is a Fiat 500. In fact, they somehow managed to find an entire street filled with the little 500s. And before the test even started I thought that one of them would turn up in one, but was surprised to see that none did. Oh well. Next week’s show promises to be even better and there is the added bonus of Formula One being back on!!!

For all of Ken Block’s videos, check out his Website.

F1: The Next Year

            As I am sure many of you know, the deadline to submit applications for next year’s Formula One world championship has come and past. All of the FOTA member teams (with the exception of Williams, because they were kicked out of FOTA for having signed up earlier) lodged their entries with a conditional note attached. Basically, it states that if there is a budget cap for next season, all of their entries are null and void. This means that if the FIA still go ahead with a full budget cap, you will not see any Ferraris, BMWs, Renaults, McLarens or any other top teams like there are now. Instead of those old teams that seemingly no one cares about – according to Max Mosley – you fans will now have the pleasure of watching teams like Prodrive, Lola, Superfund, March, Campos, Litespeed and Brabham duel it out on the track and in your hearts! Wow, with names like those, who wouldn’t want to watch?

 

*Crickets chirping*

 

Oh that’s right, EVERYONE! I cannot believe this. First of all, this is basically an F3 field. Like other teams have asked before, there is already a GP2 series, so why would anyone want another? And who watches GP2? Ok, I admit, I watched one once, but it didn’t hold my attention BECAUSE I DIDN’T CARE ABOUT ANY OF THE TEAMS!!! Does the FIA not realize that if they show up to the first race of the season next year with that list of teams and no major manufacturers, that they will lose money hand over foot? People will just migrate to other series and they will especially be watching a breakaway series that used to called F1 because it has Ferrari and McLaren and all their old friends dueling it out once more. This new Formula…whatever won’t work because people like history. Why does an M3 sell so well? A lot has to do with its history. Why is the Impreza still an icon (even though it looks terrible now)? Because of the history. If you are a car manufacturer and you come out with a new car that is supposed to be an icon, no one will pay it much attention because it won’t have any back story. There is no history with new things and people will especially pay no attention if that history moves on to another race series.

And with all of the talking and speculating, it has come out that it may have been Mosley himself who told the teams to hand in these conditional entries. Maybe he is trying to kill the sport by making these teams just up and leave. I know that I have stated in the past that it sure seems like Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley want to kill F1, but I never thought it would get this far. We will find out what is really going on when the list for next year’s entrants is released on June 12. Until then, let me just pose a question: What would you rather watch, a watered down version of F1 where there are no teams, racers or people you know, or a racing series that is all about technological innovation and the best drivers and cars in the world with names like Ferrari and Mercedes? I know which I would be watching.

Top Ten: Lotus Motor Sport Elise

            In my seemingly never ending series of the top ten cars I would want in my garage, I have finally come to number 10. This is the one that would be used solely for track days and autocrosses because, quite frankly, it isn’t street legal. The 2001 Lotus Motorsport Elise is a bare bones racer designed specifically to get out on the track and tear the place up. Not many people have seen an Elise of this body style in the US because it was never officially imported here. I like the look of these much better than the new ones (and I do like the new ones), but the more sculpted and flowing body style – although looking a little softer – really fits the profile of the car.

            The Lotus Elise in standard trim is regarded as being one of the best handling cars out there, so when the engineers decided to add more lightness, up the power and stiffen the chassis, the result was an all out assault on the senses. The way the car accelerates, brakes and maneuvers through corners is something that has to be experienced to be believed. Not that I have experienced it for myself, but I’ve heard good things…very good things. If you want to judge the performance potential of this car versus others, the best way to do it is to get yourself a Playstation, a copy of Gran Turismo 4 and jump right in on your favorite track.

            The numbers are not going to jump out at you if you see them, but as a whole package the car is phenomenal. It carries a Rover K-series engine tuned to give out around 200+ horsepower and some amount of torque that hardly matters. The thing is, this car weighs next to nothing (at least compared to other cars) and that means that with its modest power, it can accelerate 60 in around 4.5 seconds. It will also generate a lot of cornering force thanks to the grippy tires and standard rear wing. The top speed is somewhere around 145, so while it may not be able to keep up on the straights, it will zip through the corners faster than most. If the new one is said to be a go-kart for the street, then this is the best go-kart for the track that there ever was. It would certainly have a nice spot to rest in between race weekends in my garage and is one of my top 10 cars.

            Because this has been a very long running series, you can find the rest of my cars right here, in no particular order:

  1. Subaru Forester STi
  2. BMW M3 Coupe
  3. Subaru Impreza P1
  4. Prodrive P2
  5. Ariel Atom 300
  6. Renault Clio V6
  7. Ferrari F355 F1 Berlinetta
  8. Audi RS4
  9. Porsche 959
  10. Lotus Motor Sport Elise

 

This list has taken a long time to complete and really does not scratch the surface of all the cars I would love to own. Maybe I’ll continue to add more in the future.