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Ultimate Street Car Challenge Predictions - Firsts And Lasts

Ultimate Street Car Challenge 2008

Nov 1, 2008
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We've never had one person in the office betting pool nail the USCC's podium finishing order, but the years of competition and carnage give us a good idea of the winners and losers from each competition. It's how you score throughout the event though, and not which events you win that ultimately make or break a USCC champion. So we'll go through each event and try to see who wins, who eats it, and why.

Base Price
Winner: Impreza L
Loser: NSX or GT-R

This is an easy one, The Impreza L has to win it on account of its econobox pricing while the loser should be the GT-R or the NSX. Had it been the late-model NSX we were originally looking for, then the six figure MSRP would have easily tipped the scales giving just about everyone a significant lead out of the box.

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Car Show
Winner: 350Z or Impreza L
Loser: GT-R or BMW E30

We're not really show car lovers, but it's an important part of a street car, so looks count. And as far as cosmetics go, the 350Z is the closest to a show car, even though a couple other cars are showroom clean. Even with its exotic looks, the GT-R might lose points just for its bone-stock demeanor. But some judges might fall for clean looks and ding the E30-chassis BMW for its aged ultra-sleeper ensemble.

Engineering Guru Panel
Winner: Mazda3
Loser: R32 Skyline GT-R

Based on what we know that the Bergenholtz brothers are up to, the Mazda3 should be the car that wows the judges with World Challenge and OEM level technology. Despite the car's origins, it will be fast, even in this field of USCC contenders. The loser will probably be the old Skyline GT-R with its high-dollar bolt-on madness solutions.

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The Girlfriend Test
Winner: Audi Quattro or GT-R
Loser: NSX

The Girlfriend likes air conditioning, leather, and a smooth ride. What she doesn't like are cars that are equipped with sonic boom exhausts, solid suspensions, or are ridiculously difficult to get in and out of. Although, nothing will quite top the Ariel Atom from last year's USCC and the bug that flew into The Girlfriend's eye during that fateful drive.

Winner: GT-R
Loser: WRX STI

Of course, the stock car with the automatic transmission will be the easiest to drive, but that doesn't mean the rest are bad in any way. In fact, we have more driveable cars this year and no gutted interiors at all. Why will the Subaru be the worst? It's called 1,600cc/min injectors and a Tilton triple-plate clutch.

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Peak Power
Winner: WRX STI
Loser: NSX

When it comes to power, the turbo cars will win. But this year, our bets are on the Cosworth block-equipped STI to come out on top, even though Subarus have always had a hard time taking top marks for peak power at the USCC. The supersized twin-scroll turbo and Motec tuning might just outgun Nissan's RB26-powered Skyline for once. On the bottom end, the NSX and its intake flow limitations will probably cap the total power output to the 300s.

Torque Delivery
Winner: BMW E30
Loser: Mazda3

We've revised our torque curve calculation methods and, this year, the most bottom end grunt will win. That's a contradiction when it comes to a mostly turbocharged field, but the supercharged BWM V-8 should set the par. On the flip side, a 2.3L Mazda will have to have a pretty laggy turbo in order to support 400 whp, which means almost no bottom end torque.

Winner: NSX
Loser: WRX STI

Even with a punched-out stroked engine and more aggressive cams, the NSX should still reign supreme when it comes to the sniffer. It's a Honda! But a lot of it comes down to the quality of the catalyst used. The Subaru will probably be the dirtiest with its massive injectors that spew fuel.

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Fuel Economy
Winner: Mazda3
Loser: BMW E30

This is a toss up. We've had winners from all over the board, but our new drive route with traffic, stop lights, and fewer downhill runs will change this. So, based on what we know about the drive route and the drivers, the Mazda3 should win just by pure lack of displacement, assuming they stay off the boost. Just on account of the size and age of the engine and the supercharger constantly churning, the BMW should end up the gas guzzler of the group.

Quarter-Mile E.T.
Winner: Lancer Evolution X
Loser: NSX

While the Skyline GT-R has always been the big dog of the quarter-mile, the new Evo and STI might have the power advantage this time. And with the drag racing experience of AMS, the EVO should come out on top, assuming the new transmission can deal with drag launches. The NSX, even with its instant naturally aspirated torque, just isn't setup to launch.

20-100mph Acceleration
Winner: R32 Skyline GT-R
Loser: Coupe Quattro

When it comes to sheer brute force and power, the older GT-R will prevail, even if you can't drag race. So our vote is for the R32. The Coupe Quattro's NA engine and soap box aerodynamics will definitely hold it back.

80-0mph Braking
Winner: GT-R
Loser: BMW E30

Even with its weight, have you seen the size of the brakes on the new GT-R? Even with monster wheels and brakes, few aftermarket modified cars can come close to the absolute stopping distance of an OEM electronically controlled car. Track braking is another story all together. The BMW should lose on account of the added weight and old school brakes.

Skid Pad
Winner: WRX STI
Loser: Mazda3

Better tires or not, the front drivers always hurt in this competition because they will always understeer. Based on what we saw from last year's widebody STI, the STI this year should take the win with its 275-width R-comps and race car diffs.

Lap Times
Winner: Impreza L
Loser: Mazda3

Light weight, all-wheel drive, modern traction controls, and rally champ family lineage will probably put the Impreza out front in terms of lap times. But it won't be by far if at all. And even with the World Challenge suspension secrets, the Mazda still won't be able to put its massive power down to get around our tight track configuration.

Gross Display of Power
Winner: BMW E30
Loser: WRX STI or GT-R

We've seen the Groma guys' take on the Gross Display of Horsepower and they are relentless. With a short wheelbase, monster power and torque, the little 3-series that could will easily put down more smoke than we can see through. As for the losers, either the STI will break, or the GT-R will just sit there in all its technological sophistication, very confused as to what the driver is trying to do.



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