Some of you have expressed doubt that the Ford Focus RS can have 324lb ft of torque and be driven by its front wheels, yet suffer from no torque steer at all. Earlier this week I spent two days in France with the RS and can report that, actually, you're right. It does torque steer. A bit. It's at its most prevalent near straight-ahead. Accelerate onto a motorway through third gear, and across cambers the RS will take nibbles at the steering wheel. Which is about as surprising as finding it gets dark at night. The surprise is how little there is. The RS's traction out of tighter bends really is astonishing too. With a lot of lock, out of a second-gear uphill corner it'll rocket away with no front-wheel slip at all and precious little torque effect on the steering. There's less self centring than you might expect here – the first-gen Focus RS, which had a limited-slip diff that acted in the same fashion, would pull itself into a corner on the throttle. The idea behind the … [Read more...] about Focus RS: let’s talk torque steer
Why does steering wheel lock
There are other things that matter greatly in a car from time to time, but the one thing that matters all the time is the steering. Who said that? No, not me, it was the late LJK Setright, one of the most revered and almost certainly (sorry, m’colleagues) the greatest of all motoring writers. Known for his elegant prose, enormous technical knowledge and often controversial (but always well-reasoned) opinions, he was a contributor to a huge assortment of car and motorcycle magazines worldwide, including Autocar, and the author of some peerless books on motoring and aviation matters. Great was his enthusiasm for four-wheel active steering, especially the systems introduced by Honda into its Prelude models. That low-slung coupe was, he reckoned, a decent enough thing when steered by the front wheels alone, but when thus equipped with all four wheels and tyres doing the work it became, by a considerable margin, the nicest car to drive he’d ever driven. It won … [Read more...] about Why the return of four-wheel steering should be celebrated
Ferrari's brilliant getaways at the Australian Grand Prix were key to its early victory challenge – and could well be the result of a unique approach to new start restrictions that Giorgio Piola has uncovered.Although Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid in Melbourne, it was a sensational getaway from Sebastian Vettel that helped the German swoop into the lead by the first corner.As team boss Maurizio Arrivabene said: "The start was super. I have to say both of the drivers, they start like two rockets. After that they were able to take an advantage, and that was good for us."Such great starts from Ferrari are nothing new – just look at Hungary last year – but as Piola's exclusive drawing reveals, the team may well have taken things to an all-new level in ensuring it does not miss any detail in this area. In-built advantageAs early as pre-season testing, rivals had been alerted about what Ferrari was capable of by monitoring data from Barcelona.Red Bull boss … [Read more...] about Ferrari steering wheel may hold key to rocket F1 starts
► Ford Mustang's Line Lock put to the test ► Plumes of smoke in the name of science ► Using it won't invalidate your warranty Ever wondered what Ken Block smells like? Well, Ford now offers you the opportunity to find out – no, not via some kind of secret fragrance diffuser activated by the Drift Mode function in the Mk3 Focus RS, but thanks to the Line Lock system that’s part of the Track App package on the Mustang GT.The theory is simple: engage Line Lock, roast rear tyres until the police arrive or you can no longer see. The resulting odour of eau de atomised rubber will cling to you for days, unless you have ready access to one of those decontamination showers they use at the scene of nuclear accidents. But can Ford really have made it that easy to become a social nuisance? We obviously had to find out. In the name of science. You understand.Unlike Drift Mode, Line Lock actually serves a recognisable purpose – if you intend … [Read more...] about Does it work? The Ford Mustang’s Line Lock
► What we made of the Audi Quattro► Our original review from August 1980► Ronald 'Steady' Barker refereesWhen in March the arrival of the electrifying Audi Quattro generated a shockwave of excitement—consternation in some quarters — to ruffle the somewhat lethargic composure of the Geneva Salon, it sparked eulogies from the motoring press (including your very own Mel 'O'Drama' Nichols, who was one of the few privileged to drive one more than round the block: see CAR April). Yet I wondered: could the Audi really be that good? Was it so many streets ahead of the old Jensen FF? One remembered the high hopes and expectations aroused 11 years earlier by Audi's NSU associates with the elegant and beautifully mannered R080, powered by that magically smooth and unobtrusive Wankel engine; then the years of unfulfilled promise and the final surrender, when engineering and finances had been overstrained in vain attempts to stretch the Wankel's longevity and … [Read more...] about Ronald Barker on why the Audi Quattro’s a supercar slayer: CAR+ archive, August 1980
► Does it work? Tesla's Autopilot autonomous tech ► Sit back and relax, let Tesla drive you ► Motorway driving just became easier Is the Tesla Model S truly autonomous? Unfortunately you still can’t simply tell it to take you to work in the morning. But Autopilot now allows the Model S to drive itself along a motorway entirely unaided.The longest uninterrupted stretch of motorway in the UK runs from the bottom of the M6 in the Midlands to Glasgow, 320 miles away, or almost exactly the range of a Model S 85D. Surely the ability to travel that distance without requiring the (human) driver to touch the throttle, brake or steering wheel makes the Model S our first autonomous car. But does it work?Not entirely, says Elon Musk. Autopilot is part of the new 7.0 version of Tesla’s operating system, and the company is open about the fact that much of it is still in ‘beta’. That means it isn’t finished and needs testing to … [Read more...] about Does it work? We put Tesla’s Autopilot to the test
Car and Driver’s affection for BMW sports sedans has cooled during the past five years as the Bavarians have shifted focus from hard-core driving enthusiasts to their growing throng of luxury customers. The unfortunate side effect is a diminished emphasis on the attributes we prize: an astute balance between a supple ride and laser-sharp handling; impeccable braking; and—most significant—a clear and concise dialogue between the driver and the road through the steering.To air our grievances, we met with BMW driving-dynamics expert Johann Kistler. While his current assignment is as project director for the new 2017 BMW 5-series, due for introduction later this year, Kistler guided development of the past two generations of 7-series sedans and was responsible for the move to electric power steering (EPS) for the current (F30) 3-series, which was introduced for the 2013 model year.Kistler began our conversation on the Car and Driver wavelength—by … [Read more...] about Steer Me, Feel Me: Exploring Why BMWs No Longer Excel in Steering Feel
A year and a half since Scion introduced the iM in the United States, little more than a year since Toyota announced the Scion brand’s discontinuation, and six months since the Scion iM began to operate as the Toyota Corolla iM, almost every Toyota Corolla buyer chooses the inferior Corolla sedan instead of this hatchback.Fortunately, the iM generates more sales activity for Toyota than it did for Scion. Over the last four months, for instance, the Corolla iM produced 6,548 U.S. sales, up 34 percent compared to the year-before figure claimed by the Scion iM.After spending a week with the refreshed 2017 Toyota Corolla XSE sedan in January and the last week with the 2017 Toyota Corolla iM, it’s clear the iM is the superior Corolla. It’s clear that a far greater percentage of the 28,000 monthly American Corolla buyers should be choosing this car.But they don’t. And they won’t. And there are a number of reasons why.TTAC’s Steph Willems reviewed … [Read more...] about This 2017 Toyota Corolla iM Is The Best Corolla, So Why Do 93% Of Corolla Buyers Choose The Sedan?
This week’s episode of Ask Jack is all about the magic boxes that separate today’s cars from their predecessors — and the unintended consequences of when it all goes wrong.Reader Eiriksmal writes:I hope I’ve startled you with this bold introduction. There’s a question I have that only you can answer … probably. It takes a sophisticated man with all sorts of worldly experience that I lack.You see, I drive a car without antilock brakes, traction control, or stability control. I’m a whipper snapper who’s only been driving 14 years, so I never knew an era without ABS, at the very least. My beloved sixth-generation Maxima, what with the six-speed manual, has a malfunctioning ABS module, so the ABS and TC (no yaw sensor was installed on the 6MT cars — ESC was autotragic only) are kaput. I’ve driven it sans braking assistance for 2.5 years, but today was my first heart-clenching episode caused by a lack of experience with driving an … [Read more...] about Ask Jack: Got That Maxima On Lock?
Here’s a riddle for you: what has a 1.6L engine making 106 horsepower, roll up windows, manual locks and cost $16,000? If your answer was “the Canada-only Nissan Micra” you’re wrong.The answer is, in fact, my Grandmother’s 1999 Honda Civic, which she traded in for a Honda Fit LX. Inflation adjusted, her Civic costs about $21,676 in today’s Canadian dollars. Her Fit would have cost her $2,000 less back in 1999, or about what a Civic DX, which had no air conditioning or an automatic gearbox, would have commanded.That same $14,000 is about twice the price of what a brand new, base model Nissan Micra would have cost back then. The Micra’s $9,998 sticker price today works out to just under $7,400. The same equipment, three more horsepower and much better crash safety (but a smaller car) now costs half of what it did right on the eve of the Y2K scare that never happened.Even though Nissan insists that the Micra won’t make it to the … [Read more...] about Generation Why: The Datsun Days Are Over