HAVING a KART ATTACK
We load up seven racers in our long-term Honda CR-V Sport 7 and hit the go-kart track – twice!
Fun in a family car has been the running theme throughout our Honda CRV Sport 7 long-term test. We know, a white SUV doesn’t instantly translate to excitement, so we planned for some adventures to understand that sometimes more seats equals more fun. In a way.
Last time in part 4, we set a seven-seat SUV lap record around Hampton Downs, in the wet, with just one flying lap to do it, so we know that’s a record waiting to be smashed.
This time, we got the “family” involved . . . the DRIVEN family. At least those in the DRIVEN family who were available . . . okay, seven
NZME guys who jumped at the chance of a karting session in the middle of a work day.
So we loaded up every one of the seven seats, and ventured 15 minutes north to Albany, to the home of Auckland go-karting, Game Over.
The Honda’s soft suspension, perfect for soaking up horrible roads, was put to the test with, er, something like 650kg of added ballast.
Given we’d be against the clock, it was weirdly fitting that the Honda should go up against it, too. With a driver-only 0-100km/h best time of 9.1 seconds previously established, the Vbox
‘ With sessions rotating between different karts and each having a subtle and different way to achieve speed, it’s a great way to get wound up and wind down. ’
performance timer was pulled out again; and loaded up, rolled off a faster-than-expected time of 11.6 seconds to 100km/h. Which, according to our records, is just 2.5 seconds — or 27 percent slower, despite the 40 per cent kerb weight gain. It’s also, significantly, half-a-second faster than a Suzuki Ignis SUV (12.1 seconds, for the record, David).
More than just karts, at Game Over there’s also Laser Tag, dinosaur-themed mini-golf and arcade games . . . but there was a single focus for us.
Game Over is a little different, though, because indoor karting is often associated with exhaust fumes and the noise of singlecylinder engines revving, but there’s an oddly peaceful aura at Game Over, thanks to the karts being electric!
Yep, EV go karts! Better than they sound, literally, there’s almost zero noise coming from the EV karts, and they’re just as fast as petrol karts over this indoor track, noticeably torquier and more accelerative, especially important for heavier drivers (i.e. adults) over this 200m track. With a big 21Nm, yes 21, there is minimal speed difference between karts and the challenge was on in our eight-minute, $49 sessions ($29 on Mon/Tues).
With nicknames used for the scoreboards and a lap-time screen over the start-finish line, the skill with these EVs karts is just as important, but with less disparity between lighter/heavier drivers, there was a distinct lap time difference between the skills of drivers in our group.
With seven of us on track, we had our own session to compare driving and styles, with the less experienced having just as much fun getting used to the nature of both the EV karts (which didn’t take much to get used to) and the tricky corners (which did!).
After our race, Doug, Dean and Andrew topped our timesheets, separated by just two-tenths of a second, and putting us on the Best of the Week rankings, with a printout given to each racer with their individual lap times, position in the race and outright — which is great to go back and analyse.
At least for those “competitive” ones among us . . .
For those wanting to compare times, 22.1 seconds was the fastest in our group, 24.4 the slowest. Fastest of the week was 21.4s.
A few weeks later, we wanted to complete the karting set, so we set our satnav to the outdoor gokarting track at Hampton Downs Raceway, visible from SH1 right next to the track and motorway.
As cheap as $29 per 10 minute session on Fridays, the 530m outdoor track is built on the side of a hill and offers “conventional” karting thrills, such as four-stroke 270cc petrol engines and 70km/h top speeds, which feels plenty fast.
A smaller group of four had us battling with a drying track and other traffic — including an elderly driver who was being lapped every fourth lap, mixed with the adrenalin buzz of petrol engines on an outdoor track that’s great fun for anyone into cars and/or racing.
Keeping the engine on the boil proves a challenge at times on the climb each lap as well as exiting the tight corners, and there’s a slightly more noticeable difference between karts, but with sessions rotating between different karts and each having a subtle and different way to achieve speed, it’s a great way to get wound up and wind down.
After our two 10-minute sessions, our forearms were relieved, as were we to see our times in the top three of the week, as quick as 29.7 seconds set by young and (light) Alex Linklater, and as slow as 31.1, which was still good enough for sixth fastest of the week.
And on the return journey from both tracks, the CR-V’s features came in handy: like hitting the unlock button on the remote to drop all windows and cool the cabin as it sat in the heat, the auto button on the climate control to get the cabin cooled again, and the radar cruise control for a calm, exhausted drive home again listening to some Apple CarPlay music.
More function over form, for our karting days, the Honda CR-V Sport 7 was a perfect companion.