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Driveability - The Results

Ultimate Streetcar Challenge 2008

Dec 31, 2008
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If you purchased this magazine thinking that the ultimate street car would be a cushy Cadillac, you were obviously confused. If there aren't any wine or cheese stains, you might be able to return it and get your money back. The rest of us understand that some compromises must be made in the name of performance. Still, we each have a threshold of how much discomfort we can tolerate. A few of the competitors are obviously a lot tougher than I am.

The Groma Fab guys claim to drive their supercharged and V8-powered BMW daily. All I can say is, I hope it's a short commute. Just looking at the pictures, you'll see a passive, stock looking old car. To hear it in real life though, it sounds like Robosaurus is about to come around the corner and chomp a Honda. There were minor details such as a lack of turn indicators and the passenger side window that got stuck down, but the biggest thing that dropped points was the unpadded roll cage. This is a no-no, even though the fabrication was beautifully tight against the roof and pillars.

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The Impreza L did slightly worse. But that was mostly due to the tight race bucket that was permanently fixed in a forward position. Getting in required me to remove all the items from my pockets and adjust the racing harness. Even if everything had been set up for me, the stiff suspension, loud exhaust, and lack of air conditioning would have made it the last car I'd want to drive on the street. However, it would have been my first choice of cars to drive on the track. With every bump and rattle, the car was saying, "just wait till I get out on the road course!"

With five cars scoring over 90 points, the top cars were all pretty even. Everyone was expecting the R35 GT-R to dominate, but there was a pronounced rattle somewhere in the rear suspension. In the BMW it would be hardly noticeable, but this was like having a crying baby in the corner of a nice restaurant. The 350Z had similar problems with its array of gauges that not only rattled but also blocked the air conditioning vents. Its major downfall though was the low front bumper, which required 90% of my attention to make sure I didn't crack it on anything.

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Some of the cars had nice little perks that partially compensated for their harshness. The cockpit adjustable dampening of the Tein suspension was my favorite part of the classic Skyline. Also, the portable navi system in the AMS Evo X scored a couple of points. The 80-way power adjustable leather seat made the Audi the best road car. Only the air conditioning, which I was warned would overheat the engine at idle, kept it from being the top street car. The adjustable bolsters on the Mazda's seats were great, even if the mounts were a little squeaky. There was little to talk about on the Evo VIII. It was a real, daily driven street car, and you could tell.-Andy Hope

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Rank Car Points Peanut Gallery
1 {{{Lancer}}} Evo VIII 110 Schoolteacher's car
2 {{{Audi Coupe}}} {{{Quattro}}} 105 The German {{{Buick Roadmaster}}}
3 R35 {{{GT}}}-R 103 Hostage was locked in the trunk
4 Mazda3 94 Would have won if we went to Costco
5 Lancer Evo X 92 Formal dining seating position
6 {{{Nissan 350Z}}} {{{80}}} Would never survive drive-thru curbs
7 {{{R32}}} Skyline {{{GT-R}}} 40 Wants to go fast
8 {{{BMW}}} 325i 24 Awesome for the first block
9 {{{Subaru Impreza}}} L 10 Streets are for street cars

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