The hot laps

Car (South Africa) - - CREDITS - By: Wil­helm Lut­je­harms Wil­helm­l_­car­mag

WITH the 911 and Cay­man parked in the pit garage – Porsche South Africa’s in­surance does not cover track use – the cars lined up and Deon was ready for a full day of test­ing. Al­though the Porsches’ lack of par­tic­i­pa­tion here would not hurt them in fi­nal vot­ing (Shootout con­tenders are road ve­hi­cles and there­fore they are judged on their abil­ity to work in real-world con­di­tions), the team couldn’t help but won­der what times the two Zuf­fen­hausen cars would have posted had they taken part, es­pe­cially in such per­fect, mild weather con­di­tions.

Be­fore we an­nounce the fi­nal rank­ing, lo­cal rac­ing hero De on jou­berts et slap times inthe­con­tenders

The Yaris GRMN was first to head out to do Toy­ota proud. The lit­tle hatch might have been the slow­est car but over­all was an im­pres­sive 1,4 sec­onds quicker than the cur­rent Volk­swa­gen Polo GTI. Deon’s find­ing: “It feels light and easy to drive. It has a strong en­gine. I’m very im­pressed.”

Sadly, the Subaru WRX STI is show­ing its age and not even the in­crease in per­for­mance of this Di­a­mond Edi­tion led to any notable re­duc­tion in lap time com­pared to pre­vi­ous ver­sions. Deon was luke­warm about the STI: “The turn-in is not great and, at times, it feels like a front-wheel-drive car through a cor­ner. I wish the chas­sis rolled more at the front-end. How­ever, it has strong brakes and be­comes fa­mil­iar quickly.”

That brings us to the first Kia we’ve ever track tested, the Stinger GT. Deon’s find­ings: “It is a very pleas­ant car but it just feels like it could do with a touch more de­vel­op­ment; maybe slightly wider tyres at the rear. There is some in­sta­bil­ity un­der brak­ing. Other than that, a good, pow­er­ful en­gine. The rear wants to step out even in the fast cor­ners, which is why I think it would ben­e­fit from marginally wider rub­ber.”

This is the third track test we’ve con­ducted on the Honda Civic Type

R (weather con­di­tions pre­vi­ously were highly un­favourable) and, need­less to say, it im­pressed us. Deon’s ver­dict: “It is marginally quicker than be­fore and, as I’ve said pre­vi­ously, it is a bril­liant car. It has fan­tas­tic brakes, en­gine and man­ual trans­mis­sion. It must be the best fron­twheel-drive car at the mo­ment. It does push the nose a bit when the torque is de­liv­ered. But, other than that, it is dif­fi­cult to fault.” We don’t of­ten track test SUVS but the

Mercedes-amg GLC63 S Coupé has set the new bench­mark, clock­ing a lap time the pre­serve of per­for­mance sedans from a few years ago. Rum­bling past the fin­ish line, Deon was suit­ably im­pressed: “The level of grip and the avail­able power is in­cred­i­ble. It rolls a lot but it has fan­tas­tic brakes; the feel of them, pedal pres­sure and mod­u­la­tion are per­fect. The only thing it strug­gled with is turn­ing into a cor­ner. The AWD sys­tem works per­fectly. The mo­ment you get on the throt­tle, the car grips and cat­a­pults you for­ward.”

An­other car of­fer­ing co­pi­ous amounts of grip is the Audi RS5 Coupé. Deon’s take: “It is quick and beau­ti­fully made, but at the same time it is a lit­tle unin­spir­ing. I can’t put my fin­ger on it. There is a con­ser­va­tive el­e­ment to the all-wheel-drive sys­tem; it is as if it is set up for ul­ti­mate safety. On the road, it will be great, though, but less so for the track. This RS5 was not faster than the V8-equipped RS5 we tested in 2012.”

The CAR team mem­bers are big fans of the BMW M2 Com­pe­ti­tion and it con­tin­ued to im­press. It was 1,3 sec­onds faster than the pre­vi­ous M2 we tested in 2016. Deon’s find­ings: “You think the other cars are fun and then you drive the M2. It re­ally shows you what it is all about. First of all, it is rear­wheel driven, the seat­ing po­si­tion is spot-on, it has enough power – but not too much power – and the car feels lighter than the M4 and eas­ier to drive. It is not nec­es­sar­ily the fastest but it is a joy to drive. It is maybe a lit­tle too tail happy, though!”

With an ex­cited gig­gle, Deon climbed into the As­ton Martin Van­tage. A few min­utes later, the data il­lus­trated how much As­ton Martin has upped its game in re­cent years. Deon’s opin­ion: “It is very im­pres­sive and by far the great­est As­ton Martin we’ve tested. It is not an in­tim­i­dat­ing car to drive and ev­ery as­pect of it im­pressed on the track.”

Just when Deon thought the As­ton would be the quick­est car, the lounge mis­sile –

BMW M5’s Com­pe­ti­tion – smashed its lap time. “It is a steam­roller; a tech­no­log­i­cal tour de force. It must be four-wheel drive with this type of power and torque, but that ben­e­fits the sta­bil­ity of the car. For­tu­nately, it still feels rear-wheel driven. It is rel­a­tively heavy but you don’t feel it from be­hind the wheel. This car is as­ton­ish­ing.”

02

01 The M5 can be set to rear-wheel-drive mode and the re­sult is tail-happy an­tics aplenty. 02 Se­condquick­est around Kil­lar­ney, the Van­tage proves com­posed and ap­proach­able. 03 Deon gets ready to set off in the first Kia we’ve track tested. 04 Thanks to a 375 kw V8, paired with masses of grip, the GLC63 over­comes its ob­vi­ous SUV short­com­ings on track. 05 The day’s slow­est but cer­tainly not the least fun. 03

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