Driving Emotion

Posted on September 24th, 2002 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

Why We Hate [insert manufacturer of your choice here]

Again and again we see in on-line discussion groups how AutoSpeed “hates Fords”, or “hates Holdens”, or hates some other car manufacturer – you can just about list almost all of them and we’ve had that suggested of us.

Even some manufacturers themselves seem to believe that we have a bias against them (we never hear from manufactures who believe we have a bias for them – funny, that.) One manufacturer recently said when they organised to loan us a press car for a test that “they hope Julian Edgar has grown up since the last review he did on our cars”. In fact, listen to some people and you could believe that we’re arbitrarily negative about certain car makers – y’know, it’s just a whim or we got out of bed the wrong side on the morning we wrote the road tests.

So let’s have a look at the evidence. We’ll try to take most of the comments from the concluding paragraphs of road tests, so that they’re from summaries rather than out of context. Covering every road test we have ever run would become very boring, so let’s just pick those stories where we’ve been strongest in our perspective.

The Alfa 166 certainly attracted our criticism. “With Alfa’s history of poor retained values in its larger cars, you can be sure that a few years down the track the 166 will be available very cheaply indeed. But, even at $50,000, we’d still not be much interested,” we concluded in the test.

Driving Emotion

Posted on September 17th, 2002 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

The Return of Four-Wheel Drive

It has defied the soothsayers the way that the four-wheel drive car revolution (as opposed to the four-wheel drive, off-roader, half-century-old, technology continuation) has continued to occur.

A decade or so ago, high performance (and invariably turbo) four-wheel drive cars were being adopted in significant numbers here in Australia – and in most other markets around the world. While many of the cars were also available in two-wheel drive configurations, it was the all-wheel drive cars which were stealing the limelight.

In addition to the cars from Audi – the company that really started it all (and yes, I know about the Jensen FF and even the Miller Indy car) – the Japanese and other Europeans joined the race and really made it haul. There were cars like the Mitsubishi Galant VR4, the Laser (Mazda 323) turbo, the Subaru Liberty (Legacy in most places) RS, and the Opel Calibra 4X4. And of course the wave of cars wasn’t limited to just four-cylinders: the Nissan Skyline GT-R, Mitsubishi 3000GT, the Subaru SVX and the Porsche Carrera 4 all showed that high performance all-wheel drive sixes could work very well, thanks very much..

Unlike previous four-wheel drive cars, these machines were – to a greater or lesser degree in the case of the GT-R and some Porsche models – constant four-wheel drive. There was no need for the driver to do anything when greater traction was required; instead the electronics or mechanicals looked after what was going on. All-wheel drive was used to give greater grip when engine torque would otherwise have overwhelmed the traction of just a pair of wheels – the results were overwhelmingly good.