Driving Torque

Articles, reviews and opinions about cars and all things automotive

Archive for the month “March, 2011”

Devolution – Why Mitsubishi’s Evo is doomed

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X in red

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

Reliable sources at Mitsubishi have recently confirmed that their will be a successor to the highly coveted Evo X although due to a ‘policy change’ towards EV technology, the new model will not be ‘advancing the concept in the same way as before’.

I’m not even an unreliable source at Mitsubishi and I can categorically confirm that the Evo bloodline as we know it is breathing its last, for the simple reason that it’s successor will be a diesel-electric hybrid.

Just to reiterate my stance on using heavy oil to power a vehicle, I have a few rules which I feel must be adhered to. They are as follows.

  • Always have a diesel in large 4×4’s; it’s what they were designed for.
  • Never combine a convertible with a diesel engine. You’ll put the roof down once and never put it down again. All diesel engines sound dreadful.
  • Never try to convince me that you prefer the diesel option regardless of frugality, this is a lie.
  • Never expect a torquey, oil burning power plant to feel remotely similar to a high revving, turbocharged engine. It may sport the same bhp but that’s where the similarities will end.

It’s this final point that I refer to when I voice my opinions on the news from Mitsubishi. What made the Evo so popular over the last 19 years was undoubtedly its fun factor, you demanded performance and it arrived almost instantly in a tidal wave of noise and acceleration. It made you feel like you were a winner with skill levels comparable to the likes of Makinen or Burns as it never seemed to run out of either power or grip. Whatever anyone says, this feeling cannot be replicated using a diesel-electric hybrid, it’s very nature does not lend itself to the type of driving Evo owners have become accustomed to.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Rally Car in snow

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution doing what it does best – rallying

Love it or loathe it, the Lancer Evo is iconic, a legend in it’s own lifetime. This and the Impreza were the working class heroes of their generation, true performance cars yet realistically attainable in the same vein as the Capris and Cosworths of years gone by. If a car manufacturer feels that a certain model has come to the end of its usefulness, they should do the honourable thing and kill them off, draw a line under the whole affair and start afresh. A good example to highlight would be the mess Ford managed to make during the ‘70’s and 80’s by refusing to let go of the legendary Mustang name. It was so watered down that it bore absolutely none of the qualities that were so endearing from the original.

The Lancer Evolution, I feel, has earned the right to go the way of all true legends: – Live fast, Die young and leave a good looking corpse.

By Ben Harrington

(Not so) Big Bulli – Volkswagen’s MPV is shrinking

Volkswagen's Bulli Concept at the Geneva Motor Show

Volkswagen’s Bulli Concept

So, it seems that Volkswagen have decided to jump on the same bandwagon as BMW and Fiat, with the Mini and 500 respectively and resurrect an ancient model that was a huge hit way back when. I am of course referring to the Bulli concept which was unveiled recently at the Geneva motor show to mixed reactions.

Being the owner of a ‘proper’ Volkswagen – my ’74 camper, this story immediately demanded my undivided attention and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I knew the exterior styling reminded me of something and it took a while for the penny to drop – it’s strangely reminiscent of the Nissan Cube.   Like the original, the whole concept is a clever one, offering the owner many vehicle layouts in one e.g. MPV, van or camping tool. Different wheelbases will be offered in certain countries reflecting demand and it will come with a choice of powerplants including an 85kw electric motor.

1974 Volkswagen Type 2 Campervan Black and cream

My Volkswagen Type 2 – ‘Matilda’

This is pretty much where the similarities end however and where I feel the problems begin. You see, unlike my ’74 VW, the interior of this concept looks cramped and restrictive. This is due partly to the Bulli being significantly smaller than it’s predecessor – 3.99m x 1.75m x 1.7m compared to 4.5m x 1.7m x 2m. It’s also due to the Bulli not making full use of the space it was given. The beauty of the original Transporters was that the engine was neatly stowed under the boot at the rear of the vehicle, resulting in the entire length of the body being useable as no bonnet was required. If you look at the Bulli concept however, around a quarter of the overall length is used to accommodate the powerplant, stealing valuable cabin space. Somehow, Volkswagen would appear to have taken a design which can be traced back over 60 years and fiddled with it to the extent where it isn’t as useable as the original.

Vw transporter concept 2001

Volkswagen’s Ill-fated Transporter Concept from 2001

When pictures of a new Transporter concept were released in 2001, the styling seemed to reflect the original more accurately. This lead to many people warming to the idea as it wasn’t only attractive but, perhaps more importantly, overwhelmingly practical as well.

Before any final production plans are made, I hope the good folk at VW dust off the pictures of the 2001 concept for inspiration. I also sincerely hope someone has the balls to remind them what a hash they made of reinventing  the Beetle!

By Ben Harrington

Automotive Annoyances

Please note; this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to contact me with your own irritations.

Indicator ignorance = annoying

Indicator ignorance. People who either refuse to use them or have no idea when is appropriate i.e. Indicating left to go straight on at roundabouts or, worse still, not using them at all. My psychic powers just aren’t up to the job of predicting every driver’s next movement.

Private Registrations = annoying

Private registrations. Generally used either to disguise a car’s age or tenuously individualise the car to it’s driver . Why not just stick your name on the car in those italic letters? It’s just as tasteless, costs a fraction of the price and your name should hopefully be spelled properly without the person reading it needing to squint. The worst crime possibly is to state the make or model of your car on it’s plate e.g. A911 POR on a Porsche 911, do they seriously worry we may mistake it for a Range Rover, a Lada Riva or a leek?

Amateur car modifications = annoying

Modifying cars. Now, I’m not talking about a trick exhaust or a fancy air filter here, I’m talking about those automotive disasters we’ve all seen attempting to outrun an M3 on the bypass. Some very clever people are paid a lot of money to design and engineer the cars on our roads. Why on earth does some spotty oik, armed only with Halfords vouchers and superglue think he can do a better job?

Disabled parking abuse = annoying

Disabled bay abuse. Those of us who are lucky enough to be able bodied should consider parking in the space furthest away from the store and rejoicing in our ability to walk. Instead, some selfish souls would rather display ultra laziness and take up a disabled bay. Those found guilty of this should be made to crawl to the store on their hands and knees, let them know how it feels – end of.

Littering = annoying

Littering. I view any kind of littering as a sin; throwing rubbish out of your car window is the worst. When you’re in your car it’s not as if carrying litter is a great inconvenience, most cars have handy storage spaces such as passenger seats and footwells especially designed for the purpose. Also, I can guarantee that 99% of car journeys end at a destination that will be able to provide a bin, be it work, petrol stations or the mother in law’s. Simply winding down the window and hurling it out marks you out as a Neanderthal.

Rudeness = annoying

Lack of manners. My eldest daughter is nearly three, my youngest daughter is eighteen months old. It was vitally important to me and my wife that some of their first words should be ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ as we believe that they are essential in civilised society and will get them far. Thankfully, most of Britain’s educated folk seem to agree but this rule appears to be null and void the instant certain people get behind the wheel. The old adage is true, it costs nothing to thank someone who has, for example, waited to let you squeeze through a gap or join their lane, yet some ignoramuses simply cannot be bothered.

By Ben Harrington

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