Driv­ing Quest

Australian Muscle Car - - Driving Guest -

You’ve prob­a­bly al­ready recog­nised the common de­nom­i­na­tor of the trio of cars dis­played on this page – V8 Su­per­car in­volve­ment. Ei­ther as of­fi­cial safety car or model cam­paigned by one of the two new fac­tory teams to join the cat­e­gory. AMC was keen to sam­ple the cars to see if their high-pro­file on-track role drew com­ments of recog­ni­tion from those I came in con­tact with in my daily life as a mag­a­zine ed­i­tor and, more im­por­tantly, ‘taxi driver’ for my kids. Would the other soc­cer dads say, “Hey Luke, isn’t that the car (in­sert mar­que) races in V8 Su­per­cars?

I wanted to get a feel for whether Volvo, Nis­san and Chrysler had achieved the de­sired pro­file boost from their mo­tor­sport in­volve­ment.

Volvo S60 Polestar

Our quest: Would any­one recog­nise it as Volvo’s V8 Su­per­car model? Find­ings: The Polestar did in­deed draw com­ment. Sev­eral times in a week. Okay, the fact it’s the same colour as Scotty McLaugh­lin’s track ver­sion helps with recog­ni­tion enor­mously. But that’s smart mar­ket­ing.

A fel­low soc­cer dad, of Scan­di­na­vian stock and a Volvo ‘es­tate’ owner, was hap­pier than Bjorn in a Agnetha-filled sauna when he got to sit in it. He wanted to swaps jobs with me. Only at dead­line time, ‘Bjorn’.

This is a lovely car. Am­ple poke, too; 3.0-litre turbo six that makes 257kW (and 500Nm be­tween 3000rpm and 4750rpm), Oh­lins dampers at each cor­ner; 19-inch al­loys with Bridge­stone Potenza tyres; and a cabin with Polestar badges and blue stitch­ing. Brembo brake pack­age with 370mm front discs, al­loy pad­dles linked to a bril­liant auto trans­mis­sion and comfy seats. It’s a $100K car and very user friendly in Syd­ney traf­fic. Bot­tom­line: Volvo is the new bench­mark for car man­u­fac­tur­ers keen to make a mo­tor­sport cam­paign work. If only it wasn’t ef­fec­tively a one-car team.

Nis­san Al­tima Ti-S V6

Our quest: Would any­one recog­nise it as Nis­san’s V8 Su­per­car model? Does the Al­tima pos­sess any sport­ing cre­den­tials? Find­ings: My 12-year-old son was ex­cited I brought home a car with an as­so­ci­a­tion to V8 Su­per­cars, so that will per­haps please Nis­san ex­ec­u­tives, although it would take him a while to save up for one. Sadly, my boy was the only one who recog­nised and com­mented on the con­nec­tion. The Al­tima was at a dis­tinct dis­ad­van­tage com­pared to the Volvo, purely be­cause of its vir­ginal white paint.

The Kelly brothers, Moff’s lad and Michael Caruso race a RWD V8, while the roadie is FWD with ei­ther a 127kW 2.5-litre four-cylin­der (start­ing at around $30K or a 183kW 3.5-litre V6 (start­ing around $45K), which was my ride for a week.

Sport­ing cre­den­tials? I drove it from Syd­ney to Bathurst re­turn over the Blue Moun­tains via the famed Bells Line of Road. Su­per im­pressed with the Thai-sourced Al­tima’s han­dling and the V6 en­gine. Dunno about the CVT, though. It de­tracted from the over­all pack­age and stripped the Al­tima of what sporti­ness the pow­er­plant and han­dling gave it. Thank­fully the man­ual shift mode avail­able on the V6 helped keep it on the boil on fast stretches, but I’m a lazy tourer who likes the auto to do the work. Bot­tom­line: Good to see Nis­san get­ting some cut-through thanks to James Mof­fat’s Bathurst podium and the sis­ter car’s retro liv­ery. There’s some catch­ing up to Volvo to do in a mar­ket­ing sense. As to the Al­tima it­self, and mind­ful it’s a $30,000-$50,000 fam­ily car, it does the job well enough.

Chrysler 300 SRT8

Our quest: Does the 300 SRT8 still turn heads? Find­ings: Not only does it turn heads, it thrusts them back into the head­rests. The 6.4-litre V8 en­gine pro­duces 351kW and 637Nm, as well as a 0-100km/h sprint time in 4.7 seconds. Wow!

Ev­ery­one loves the gangsta-look (with the ex­cep­tion of my mis­sus, but she’s a SUV type of girl) and it’s ev­ery bit the mod­ern mus­cle car with a name to match. SRT stands for Street, Road, Track and good­ies run to 20-inch wheels, sports sus­pen­sion, Brembo four-pot brakes, bur­bling dual ex­haust, lots of at­ti­tude and pres­ence. Good value for around $70,000.

The 300 SRT8 serves as a re­minder that in the not too dis­tant fu­ture, US-sourced mus­cle is all we’ll have. Thank God and the home of the mus­cle car. Bot­tom­line: The car that got lots of TV time at Bathurst is the type of mus­cle car that will live on when Aussie V8s are a thing of the past.

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