Author: EngageSportMode

Opinion – Why the Volkswagen Jetta should be missed

The recently departed ‘Golf with a boot’ deserves more recognition says ESM’s editor.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

Last week’s news that the Jetta saloon would not longer feature on Volkswagen’s UK price list was hardly met with grief and distress. Nobody will be building statues to commemorate its passing, and no national day of mourning will be declared. Yet I think the humble Jetta deserves a better legacy than what it currently has.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the ‘other Volkswagen saloon’ has bitten the dust in the UK. Four-door versions of C-segment hatchbacks have always been a relatively niche market, with neither Ford nor Vauxhall offering saloon versions of the Focus or Astra respectively.

Volkswagen Jetta Mk7

The constant march of the crossover SUV won’t have helped, with a sensible sedan never going to win in a battle of desirability against the Tiguan or new T-Roc. (more…)

SEMA 2017 | SpeedKore makes a Demon lighten up

The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon managed to impress immediately, but SpeedKore Performance Group wanted to take things even further.

Rare is the person who, when first presented with Dodge’s street-legal dragster SRT Demon, thought “how do we make it even faster” and get to work doing something about it. However, that’s exactly what Wisconsin-based SpeedKore did.

 

Exactly how do you improve on a 840hp menace, already capable of running 0-60mph in 2.3 seconds and pulling a wheelie from a standing start? With the extensive use of carbon fibre, replacing heavy regular body panels with ones formed from the lightweight wonder material.

The result is not only a substantial chunk of weight removed from the already stripped-out SRT Demon, but also a paint finish which looks rather cool. Naked carbon panels will undoubtedly always tick our box, but the special PPG “tear-off” paint makes the lightweight Demon appear really evil. (more…)

SEMA 2017 | Kia goes big on aftermarket modifications

Fittingly for something revealed on October 31st, Kia brought something big and orange, with more cutouts than a hastily carved pumpkin, to SEMA 2017. Was it more trick than treat, though? SEMA 2017 Kia

In previous years at SEMA, Kia has brought along novel creations like the craft ale-dispensing Sedona in 2014, or a chop-top Optima in 2015. However, as the brand pushes the development of overtly sporting products, Kia is using the 2017 SEMA show to go big on aftermarket performance.

SEMA 2017 Kia

We’re already a fan on the Stinger GT, so turning up the heat with a range of bolt-on parts seems good. The fact it’s been painted in a custom orange colour scheme is only going to help win us over, too. However, the Stinger GT Federation has a serious reason for a name that sounds like it belongs in Star Wars, not on the highway.

SEMA 2017 Kia

The Stinger GT Federation marks the start of Kia offering aftermarket parts and accessories for production models. In reality, the Stinger GT Federation should have a Fast & Furious-style ‘wishlist’ on the front doors, such is the array of companies that have contributed bits.

SEMA 2017 Kia

Air Design USA has created the rear spoiler, diffuser, and bonnet vents, whilst TSW have supplied the 20-inch alloy wheels wearing staggered Falken rubber. Eibach suspension drops the Stinger GT lower to the ground, Borla adds a performance exhaust with carbon fibre tips, and K&N air intakes help the 3.3-litre turbo V6 breathe easier. Peak power has increased to 380hp. (more…)

SEMA 2017 | Ten cars we want to ‘Hellcrate’ right now

The announcement that Mopar is offering a 707hp Hellcat engine ‘off the shelf’ has got us thinking. What better day than Halloween to come up with some Frankenstein-esque creation. 

If you can find $19,530 (£14,800) you too can add a 6.2-litre supercharged HEMI engine to pretty much whatever you want. This got us thinking about what should people be shoehorning the epic Hellcrate motor into, and we came up with these ten suggestions.

All of the ten cars here have Mopar family connections, avoiding any of those awkward brand-mixing moments. We’re taking a liberal approach in terms of technical possibility, with the attitude that with enough money and perseverance anything is possible.

1969 Dodge Polara HardtopHellcrate Hemi Ideas

We had already mentioned this one yesterday, and it’s naturally the first port of call on our list. Produced in various guises between 1960 and 1973, the Polara was a vast full-size land yacht offered in a range of bodystyles. However, it’s the 1969 model year with Dodge’s ‘Fuselage Look’ styling that really catches our attention, especially in two-door hardtop guise. A Hellcat engine would be a perfect swap for the 440-cubic inch (7.2-litre) V8, creating a subtle but terrifying cruiser.

1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘CudaHellcrate Hemi Ideas

Produced for just two years, the Hemi ‘Cuda was the high-performance version of the Plymouth Barracuda. Trying to pick between the 1970 or 1971 versions is tough, but we prefer the ’70 model due to the lack of gills behind the front wheel arches. The most impressive ‘Cudas featured a 426-cubic inch (7.0-litre) V8 with 425hp, but an extra shot of nearly 300hp can only be a good thing, surely.

1972 Imperial LeBaronHellcrate Hemi Ideas

As some of the biggest production cars ever built, Chrysler’s Imperial LeBaron models were unashamedly huge. Measuring almost six metres in length, and tipping the scales at over 2,200kg, the LeBaron was a leviathan of the highway. Adding the Hellcrate engine could provide some much-needed propulsion for the LeBaron, and certainly couldn’t make the fuel economy any worse. (more…)

SEMA 2017 | Make anything into a Hellcat with a Mopar crate motor

The 2017 Speciality Equipment Market Association show kicks off tomorrow, but Dodge has already stolen headlines with a very special box.2017 Mopar Hellcrate Engine

What’s in the box? Oh, you know, just a 6.2-litre Supercharged HEMI V8 engine with 707hp and 650lb-ft of torque. Yes indeed, Mopar has announced that the terrifying motor found in the Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat models will be available to buy, and be delivered in a crate straight to your door.

2017 Mopar Hellcrate Engine

Amazon probably won’t be delivering this with a drone.

Crate motors are nothing new in America, with major manufacturers already offering a range of big-block engines to wedge into whatever project you fancy. General Motors offers a gigantic 572 -cubic inch (9.4-litre) V8, whilst Ford will happily sell you a 400+hp Modular engine.

2017 Mopar Hellcrate Engine

But this is the big one, the engine that seemingly everyone – ESM included – has been rather interested in since we first saw the Hellcat drift into view. Now we can dream about just what we could shove a 707hp supercharged engine under the bonnet of, and where we’re going to find the requisite $19,530 to buy one. All donations gladly received. Mopar will also offer a $2,195 Hellcrate HEMI engine kit, designed to enable easier installation of the monster motor in pre-1976 cars. (more…)

Friday Video | Bring back the BTCC TOCA Shootout for 2018

With the BTCC celebrating a diamond jubilee in 2018, something extra has been lined up for the Snetterton race weekend. ESM thinks it could do better, with a little inspiration from the 1990s.

1993 Ford Mondeo BTCC

How exactly do you celebrate a 60th anniversary of a motorsport series? Seemingly with a double-length 60 mile race, with separate qualifying round and the removal of standard championship ballast. And that’s it. Hmm. We can’t help but feel TOCA have taken a slightly safe approach to this, when something a little more special could have been conjured up.

Instead, ESM would like to see a return of the TOCA Shootout – a one-off non-championship race held at the end of the season, with the slowest driver eliminated at the end of each lap. With a pace car used to keep the field bunched close, it was made for entertainment.

None more so in 1993, when Formula 1 and Indy Car champion Nigel Mansell showed up – in his Ford Mondeo flat cap. Things didn’t quite go to plan for Nige, but the below video highlights what brought 66,000 people to Donington Park in late October:

Forget a double-length race – this is what the BTCC should use to celebrate a 60th anniversary. We’re not sure if Mr Mansell could be tempted back, but given the driving standards we’ve seen during 2017 a shootout-style event seems perfect for contemporary BTCC. With live TV coverage offered by ITV, the drama of a modern shootout essentially writes itself.

So come on Alan Gow, don’t phone this one in. Bring back the TOCA Shootout, flat caps and all.

BTCC 2017 | Brands Hatch Grand Prix – What did we learn?

With the 2017 BTCC title going down to the wire, Brands Hatch was set for a knockout battle. 2017 BTCC Brands Hatch GP

After another thrilling weekend of action, the British Touring Car Championship has a new name on the coveted trophy – Ashley Sutton. Sunday was certainly another day of twists and turns, but even Saturday’s qualifying session made headlines.

Sutton went into the weekend with a 10 point gap over nearest, and only realistic rival, Colin Turkington. A rain and red flag affected qualifying certainly went Sutton’s way as he qualified third behind Jack Goff and Aiden Moffat. Turkington’s BMW suffered electrical problems, not for the first time this season, and it meant he could only qualify in 17th.

Another disappointment for Turkington was that potential ally, in the form of teammate Rob Collard, had to withdraw from the weekend’s action after free practice as he was still suffering the effects of his heavy crash at Silverstone. Turkington’s other WSR teammate qualified a place behind him in 18th. While two of Sutton’s teammates qualified well down the pack, Jason Plato qualified in a handy 10th, although none of the teammates had particularly much impact on Sunday.

Race one certainly went Sutton’s way as Turkington struggled to make progress while Sutton took 3rd. Conditions appeared tricky at the start of the race as the track was damp, but drying. Astonishingly, no safety car was needed throughout the race, although Goff lost it at Paddock Hill bend on the opening lap and Adam Morgan had a few encounters with the barriers too. By lap 6, the cars on the slick tyres were starting to go quicker than those on the wet versions. The race was generally quite good, with the top 3 of Moffat, Tom Ingram and Sutton challenging each other well and by lap 10 they had a 15 second gap to 4th.

Towards the end while Sutton was, stupidly, considering what was at stake, attacking Ingram for 2nd, Turkington who’d make his way up to 12th started to lose places and after a final lap incident with Matt Simpson. He finally finished a lowly 15th to gain a solitary point. The gap to Sutton was now 24 points. (more…)

Friday Video | Even closer to the edge – Ken Block’s Climbkhana

What’s the best way to tackle the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb? With a 1,400hp twin-turbocharged Ford Mustang, obviously.  
KB Climbkhana (C) Hoonigan Racing

ESM doesn’t quite know what to make of Ken Block. Here’s clearly an immensely talented driver, and proficient businessman, yet success in top-level motorsport has eluded him.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. He’s built up an empire from DC Shoes, and created a number of toys to play with, like the latest Hoonicorn V2 Mustang.

In his latest video in the Gymkhana series, Block reenacts the epic Climb Dance short film created in 1988. In it, legendary WRC driver Ari Vatanen set a new record at Pikes Peak, when the course was still predominantly loose dirt and gravel.

Kenny B had the benefit of Pikes Peak being paved all the way to the top, but that doesn’t stop it still being an epic drive. Climbing some 4,720ft along a track measuring over 12 miles, Pikes Peak requires skill and concentration to master. Oh, and bravery, for when you get a little too close to the edge:

Is it more dramatic than the record-setting run by Sébastien Loeb in 2013? Undoubtedly. Is it as achingly cool as Ari Vatanen’s 1988 effort? Hmmm, we’ll let you be the judge of that…

Image: (C) Hoonigan Racing

Friday Video | Classic BTCC chaos

We’ve taken a close look at driving standards in the BTCC this week. Here’s a reminder that certain things don’t change.

BTCC Super Touring

After the controversy from last weekend’s Silverstone BTCC rounds, the question of how big a part contact should be allowed to play in a professional racing series is one which won’t go away. For some historic perspective, we’ve taken a trip back to 1999 and the peak of the Super Touring era, courtesy of this YouTube clip from Duke Video:

Collisions and questionable overtaking manoeuvres are nothing new to the BTCC, it just seems that 2017 has compacted several seasons of carnage into one neat package. We can only wait and see what the season finale will deliver on the 1st October.

Opinion | The BTCC needs to decide what it wants to be

The fallout from the recent Silverstone rounds of the 2017 British Touring Car Championship isn’t going to go away. ESM’s Editor gets stuck in to the debate.

Things should be perfect in the BTCC world right now. The grid is packed, fans are flocking to circuits, and ITV is broadcasting the entire race package live and free from subscription. It might not have the same number of manufacturers throwing huge budgets around like the peak of the 1990s, but all that aside, the British Touring Car Championship should be in rude health. But it’s not.

If you’ve read the report from our BTCC Correspondent on the events that took place at Silverstone last weekend, you’ll know that driving standards are a subject nobody can escape from. The fact that Mr. BTCC himself – and Series Director – Alan Gow had to wade in and release a statement specifically addressing the issue, suggests how serious this mess is. However, Silverstone wasn’t the only rounds which saw driving that could be classed as poor and unprofessional.

Both Snetterton and Knockhill saw races ended for drivers thanks to contact from other competitors. Andrew Jordan’s statement at the weekend that some drivers lack ‘spatial awareness’ may be true, but the carnage created by his mistake at Knockhill means that nobody on the grid can take a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude on this issue.

BTCC 2017 (C) BTCC

Gow asserts that the drivers themselves are the root cause of the problem which, of course, is the obvious assumption to make. Nobody but the 32 individuals out on track can decide whether to ‘bung an optimistic pass up the inside’ or perpetually nudge the back bumper of the car in front to unsettle it. Only they cause those actions, and there is only so much the race organisers and stewards can do. Yet if drivers are doing this, surely it’s because of the situation that has been allowed to fester. For some on the grid, the chance of being penalised seems low, and in many respects the BTCC likes to make hay from contact and controversy. (more…)