Author: EngageSportMode

2017 Indianapolis 500 | Chevrolet’s Indy 500 Pace Car History

Like just about everybody else this weekend, ESM has decided to jump aboard the Indy 500 bandwagon. 2017 Corvette Grand Sport Indianapolis 500 Pace Car

Thanks to Fernando Alonso deciding to ditch the Monaco GP for a shot at Indy glory, outlets who normally wouldn’t give IndyCar the time of day are making a big deal about the Indy 500. However, the Indy 500 isn’t just one of the greatest motorsport events, it’s also a huge marketing opportunity for car manufacturers.

2017 Corvette Grand Sport Indianapolis 500 Pace Car

2017 Indy 500 Pace Car – the Corvette Grand Sport

The biggest prize comes in bagging the prestigious role of supplying the pace car. For many years the race organisers alternated between different marques. However, General Motors has held an exclusive deal to be supplier since 1997, and has used Chevrolet models since 2002, meaning the choice of a C7 Corvette Grand Sport for this year should be no surprise.

We’ve taken a look back at fifteen of the Chevrolet pace cars used in the previous one hundred runnings of the Indianapolis 500.

1948 – Chevrolet Fleetmaster Six Convertible1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Indy 500 Pace Car (C) Chevrolet

The first Chevrolet to lead the field at Indy was this two-door convertible. Powered by a 216-cubic inch (3.5-litre) straight-six engine, and with a three-speed manual gearbox, the Fleetmaster was a continuation of a car first introduced before WW2. Despite just 90hp, the Fleetmaster could apparently reach over 80mph. We’re not sure why those guys don’t look more excited…

1955 – Chevrolet Bel Air 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible Indianapolis 500 Pace Car (C) Chevrolet

Introduced in 1955, the second-generation Bel Air bagged the role of Indy 500 pace car for that year. Now possibly one of the most collectable American classic cars, the ’55 Bel Air had the option of a 265-cubic inch (4.3-litre) V8 engine and even air conditioning. Power outputs for the V8 cars ranged from 162hp to 180hp, but performance was still more cruiser than sports car.

1967 – Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Indy 500 Pace Car (C) Chevrolet

Performance was on the cards for 1967, with the new Camaro taking the pace car honours after a twelve-year gap for the Chevy brand. The SS model came standard with a 350-cubic inch (5.7-litre) V8, with an even bigger 396-ci (6.5-l) V8 option available in two states of tune. Naturally, Chevrolet equipped the pace car with the 396-ci engine, producing 375hp.

1969 – Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS1969 Chevrolet Camaro Indy 500 Pace Car (C) Chevrolet

Two years later the Camaro was back at Indy, with the official pace car again featuring the 396-ci V8 engine. More notable was the decision to offer a replica, with the Indy Sport Convertible Option. Buyers got the same Dove White paintwork with Hugger Orange stripes, along with the bright orange interior and cowl induction hood. Over 3,500 buyers took the plunge to pretend to be pacing the Indy field whilst driving to work. (more…)

New Metal | Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

We seem to have been teased for years about a possible hot version of VW’s city car. Finally, we’re almost there, with the announcement of this production-ready concept.

2017 Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

The ‘concept’ tag needs to be taken pretty lightly. From the details released, and the photos supplied by Volkswagen, this thing looks as close to being fit for human consumption as possible. Come 2018 you’ll be able to take home an Up GTI from your local VW dealership, and we’ll be very surprised if it looks different to this. We’re still mildly disappointed that Volkswagen didn’t take our suggestion of naming it the ‘Power Up’ though.

2017 Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

Power comes from a tuned version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine used in the normal Up. However, it’s been boosted to deliver 113hp and 148lb-ft of torque. Granted in 2017 that doesn’t sound like a great deal for a hot hatch, when the latest Mk7.5 Golf GTI packs almost 227hp, and the Golf R is endowed with over 305hp. So why would we be getting excited about a city car with so little power, even if it does have a six-speed manual gearbox?

2017 Volkswagen Up GTI Concept

Volkswagen is keen to play up the similarities between the Up GTI and the original Mk1 Golf GTI. That 1976 car used a 1.6-litre engine, producing 110hp, and was able to do 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds, plus a top speed of 113mph. By contrast, the Up GTI is even quicker, doing 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds, and topping out at a claimed 122mph. On paper at least, it therefore beats the most thumbed page in the Volkswagen GTI history book. A low weight of 997kg for the Up GTI compares favourably to a Golf from 40 years ago, which tipped the scales at just 810kg. (more…)

BTCC 2017 | Thruxton – What did we learn?

The British Touring Car Championship returns this weekend, with the action taking place at Oulton Park. Our BTCC Correspondent recaps what happened last time out at Thruxton.

BTCC 2017 Thruxton

Thruxton may be home to the fastest corner on the BTCC calendar, but the latest rounds won’t be remembered for being a classic. Other than the incidents of a farcical second race, it was, in truth, a fairly processional affair. However, what else did we learn?

First of all, for how many years have we complained about the tyres at Thruxton and, in particular, punctures? This year, there were no major incidents, which ironically meant it perhaps wasn’t as entertaining as we’ve become accustomed to. Whether the tyres will ever be good enough to allow a soft option tyre here remains to be seen, but great credit must go to Dunlop for this season’s tread. A slight change in the compound make-up and width seems to have made all the difference, which is great if the drivers can now concentrate on driving without the worry of punctures.

Another thing we have become used to seeing at Thruxton is front wheel drive cars at the front, especially the Hondas. Saturday’s qualifying and the opening race seemed to continue the form guide as the evergreen duo of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden in the manufacturer Hondas and Eurotech’s Jack Goff held the top 3 positions. An astonishing point to note is that it was Neal’s first pole in nearly five years. However, from the second race onwards, it was the BMW show – helped by the sunny conditions, which in turn helped their tyres.

BTCC 2017 Thruxton

Wins for Rob Collard and Colin Turkington handed BMW their 100th outright BTCC win. It’s a great achievement by one of the stalwart teams of the series.  Following the BMWs’ performance at Thruxton, supposedly one of their weaker circuits, they must be seriously confident for the rest of the season. Turkington is now less than 20 points behind leader Tom Ingram and must be feeling confident that title number 3 could be on its way if his and BMW’s form continues. (more…)

Friday Video | Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT drag race

We’re not shy about being fans of Hemi power here at EngageSportMode, even when placed in something slightly inappropriate like an SUV. This video might demonstrate why.

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

Hurrah, we can use our preferred ‘nobody needs one, but we still love’ line again! The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is totally unnecessary, but we still love the fact it exists. We love the new Hellcat-powered Trackhawk version even more, but that’s not the one making waves here today.

No, this is just the ‘regular’ Hemi-powered SRT Grand Cherokee with a 468hp 6.4-litre V8, taking on a classic hot rod. Naturally this hot rod is based on a Ford Model A body, but this too features a Hemi engine up front. We can’t really say ‘under the hood’ given that this one has pretty much gone sans bonnet.

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT UK

It’s also a little bit of an unfair matchup, given that the Hemi in the hot rod is 1956 DeSoto FireDome unit – the original Chrysler hemispherical engine. With 304hp it’s a little bit down on the new 6.3-litre motor in the Grand Cherokee, even if it does have substantially less weight to haul. So who won? Well, we won’t spoil the surprise for you:

So yes, we’d still quite happily have an SRT Grand Cherokee please, Jeep.

News | Porsche produces one-millionth 911

It might have taken over 53 years of production, but Porsche has finally built the one-millionth version of the 911. It’s green, and a little bit hipster.

2017 One-millionth Porsche 911

Painted ‘Irish Green’ in fact, and apparently inspired by a colour used on a 911 owned by the founder of the company – Ferry Porsche. Put together by the Porsche Exclusive team inside the Zuffenhausen factory, the one-millionth 911 is meant to celebrate the history included in the previous 999,999 examples built before it. But you can’t buy it, and it’s heading to spend a life within Porsche’s own museum.

2017 One-millionth Porsche 911

Cynical marketing creation? Why of course. Despite the fact the Cayenne and Macan SUVs have kept the company afloat, and helped transform it into a hugely profitable concern, the 911 is still the golden goose at the heart of the Porsche brand. So with a company that majors on reminiscing the history of the 911, celebrating this particular manufacturing milestone was a ‘no-brainer’ for the marketing folk.

2017 One-millionth Porsche 911

We could possibly even label this as the ‘hipster 911’ with the choice of interior and exterior colour choices. Historic paintwork? Check. Steering wheel and dashboard featuring mahogany trim like the original 911? Check. Seats clad in ‘pepita’ cloth trim like it’s still 1964? Also present. Retro-recreations of the Porsche crest badges used on the original car? Yes, they’re here, too.

This is the Porsche that wants coffee produced from a bespoke copper still, with hand-selected beans. It wants food served on a slate, by a waiter with a beard and tattoos. Ok, we could go with the clichés, but we’ll stop here. We imagine any true hipster would pine for the one-millionth Volkswagen Beetle which was produced way back in 1955 anyway… (more…)

New Metal | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

In all the excitement surrounding the SRT Demon, we almost overlooked the fact that Jeep slipped out the most-powerful production SUV at the same time. It involves the Hemi Hellcat engine, so we should probably take a closer look.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

It must only be a matter of time before every product sold by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the USA comes fitted with the 707hp 6.2-litre supercharged engine. This is now the third model to be endowed with the monster Hemi, following the Challenger and Charger Hellcat models. We would include the SRT Demon too, but Dodge wants us to regard that particular ludicrous motor as unique. It has a Demon face cast into the block – so ok, we will.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk was hardly Detroit’s best kept secret, but that doesn’t stop it still being a little exciting. With 707hp, and 645lb-ft of torque, this is the most powerful production SUV to exist. This easily surpasses the already quite mental Dodge Durango SRT released earlier this year. Forget the Lamborghini LM002, the Bentley Bentayga W12, or even the BMW X5 Le Mans – the Trackhawk beats them all. The only way to get more power in an SUV would be to turn to aftermarket tuners.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Instead this craziness comes direct from the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, and is responsible for the Trackhawk hitting 180mph, and doing 0-60mph in just 3.5 seconds. We repeat, 3.5 seconds. That’s quicker than a Ferrari F40, quicker than a Lexus LFA, and even quicker than the Challenger Hellcat! Yes, the Jeep actually springs to 60mph in less time than the Dodge, thanks to the advantage of a 4WD system. With launch control, and a standard Torque Reserve feature, the Trackhawk is capable of hurling itself forward with reassuring violence. Thankfully the eight-speed gearbox and drivetrain have been enhanced to cope with the gigantic forces at work to make this all possible.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Bilstein adaptive suspension is standard, and can be adjusted by choosing several drive modes on offer. Naturally there’s a sport mode, but there can’t be many SUVs that have the option of a ‘tow’ mode, along with a ‘track’ setting. The latter decreases gearshift times, stiffens the suspension, and sends 70% of the torque to the rear axle. Just in case you’re wondering, yes the Trackhawk can actually tow – up to almost 3,500kg. There is a ‘snow’ mode included as well, which is said to reduce horsepower to maximise traction on icy roads. There’s no word on whether the Trackhawk will off-road, but someone will undoubtedly test that at some point… (more…)

Engage Drag Mode | 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon | More details

It turns out we didn’t dream it, and Dodge really did release the most-powerful muscle car ever early this morning. Now that it’s actually sunk in, what does the SRT Demon actually deliver?

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

Forgive us if our post this morning was a little short on detail. In our defence, it was almost 2am, and we had endured Dodge’s live streaming buildup to the big reveal of the SRT Demon. Dodge had a lot to deliver on here, having released teaser videos and trailers for weeks, culminating in the final unveiling last night. Vin Diesel was there. So was Wiz Khalifa. We’re not sure anybody really cared about them, other than Dodge promoting how big their muscle car brand is.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

No, the star attraction was the official announcement of a car that has seemingly already racked up a quite insane number of superlatives. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Most-powerful production muscle car
  • Highest horsepower production V8 ever – 840hp
  • World’s fastest 0-60mph time – 2.3 seconds
  • Highest g-force acceleration of a production car – 1.8g
  • First-ever car to lift the front wheels during an acceleration run – 2.92-feet (certified by Guinness World Records, seriously)
  • First production car to feature a front passenger seat delete – they’re not kidding
  • World’s fastest production car to run a standing quarter-mile – 9.65 seconds / 140mph

That last one is the kicker. The SRT Demon is, for all intents and purposes, a road-legal dragster. It can be driven to the strip, optimised with the included ‘Demon Crate’ of goodies, used to set crazy times, and then driven home. This goes far beyond even the Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcat models, in essentially creating what is a race car for the road. Dodge is also keen to point out that this isn’t just a modified version of the Hellcat, and that the Demon had undergone extensive modifications.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

Although it may use the 6.2-litre supercharged V8 as found in the Hellcat models, the additional 133hp and 120lb-ft of torque (taking the total to 770lb-ft) come via a number of upgrades. The supercharger is bigger and runs more boost, whilst the V8 revs higher to a 6,500rpm limit. It also features two fuel pumps, and air intakes galore – with one in the bonnet, one in the wheel arch, and one in the headlight. The Hemi engine is setup to run on 101-octane fuel, which will in part be responsible for that headline 840hp figure. Perhaps our favourite feature is the ‘Power-Chiller’ system, which circulates refrigerant from the interior air-conditioning to cool the supercharger. It also continues to run once the car has been turned off to minimise heat soak from the colossal motor. This clearly is more than just a Hellcat with the wick turned up.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

An eight-speed paddle-shift automatic gearbox is standard, having already seen service in the Hellcat twins. However it gains a TransBrake feature, which holds the car in place for fast launches. According to Dodge, this delivers 15% more torque from a standing start. The Demon also features launch assist, which detects wheel hop and reduces torque accordingly, allowing the driver to keep the throttle pedal wide open. Oh, and there’s Torque Reserve – building boost from the supercharger to ensure maximum acceleration off the line. All of this is said to improve quarter-mile times by a tenth of a second – a small amount of time which matters in drag racing.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

So much torque, it’ll do wheelies coming off the line

Although where you might actually race your SRT Demon is another matter. The National Hot Rod Association certified the 9.65 second quarter-mile time, and then promptly banned the Demon from competition use for being too fast. It may sound like a Donald Trump-esque boast, but the SRT Demon is technically prevented from competing because it is too good. The NHRA requires any street-legal car built after 2008, and capable of doing a standing quarter in 10.00 seconds or less, to have a certified roll full cage. Something the Demon does not have, and would probably damage it’s street car usability by having.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

The Demon also doesn’t have any passengers seats as standard from the factory, with only the driver’s chair provided. Front and rear passengers seats can be added for just $1, depending on how serious you are about terrifying friends and family. Their removal is part of the 90kg diet that the Demon has been placed on with sound deadening, stereo speakers, and parking sensors ditched in the pursuit of lightness.

Even the anti-roll bars have been swapped to lighter hollow designs, as part of suspension changes designed – unsurprisingly – to help out at the drag strip. Suspensions settings are actually softer than the Hellcat, intended to maximise weight being shifted to the rear on acceleration. Our favourite part is the inclusion of a Drag Mode which sets the adaptive dampers, and other systems, for straight line runs. Once the run is over, the car returns to regular damper mode, whilst the traction control kicks back in having been disabled to allow giant burnouts.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

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Video | New 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

Dodge has seemingly founds its niche, which is producing ridiculous muscle cars with increasingly insane levels of performance. After the Hellcat now comes the Demon, which Dodge has hyped and teased to within an inch of its life. Was it worth the wait?

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

Let’s cut to the chase. This is essentially a street-legal dragster, with 840hp and the ability to do a standing quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds. That’s a production NHRA record right there. It’ll also do 0-60mph in 2.3 seconds, pulls 1.8g when launching, but is still covered by a regular three-year/36,000-mile warranty. We’re not entirely sure what this madness is, so here’s a video that might help explain:

We’ll have more much Demon coverage on EngageSportMode once we’ve managed to get our heads around just what is going on here.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

Opinion | Are new cars actually getting more expensive?

The new Volkswagen Golf, and the excellent revised GTI in particular, got us wondering. Just how much more expensive are new cars compared to their predecessors? 

2017 New Volkswagen Mk7.5 Golf GTI

Having already won rave reviews from both print and online media, the Mk7.5 Volkswagen Golf GTI is already attracting attention. Yet a lot of the Internet comments seem to take umbrage at one particular fact – the cost. To clarify, the new Golf GTI has a list price starting at £27,865. As with any modern car, there is the huge temptation to run wild with the extras, but that basic amount will get you a brand-new three-door GTI, with a manual gearbox. No options, no fancy technology packages, not even metallic paint. Signature GTI colours like Tornado Red will add an extra £250, with metallics needing £570. In short, it’s rather easy to spec’ a GTI which costs over £30,000. Shock, horror, Internet outrage.

The most recent time a new Golf GTI garnered such positive attention was with the introduction of the Mk5 in early 2005. After the lacklustre Mk4 effort, the all-new GTI was an absolute revelation. Tartan seats helped, too. Yet when first introduced, the new Mk5 GTI had a starting price of just £19,995. Yes really, less than £20,000, and although the amount did rise shortly afterward, that’s the value we’ve used for comparison.

2005 Volkswagen MkV Golf GTI

A difference of £7,870 equates to a substantial sounding 39.4% increase in those twelve years between 2005 and 2017! On the other hand, horsepower has gone from 197hp in the Mk5 GTI, to 230hp in the Mk7.5, a jump of only 17%. If it had followed the same pattern as pricing, new GTI models should be rolling out the factory with 274hp. So have Volkswagen left new GTI buyers shortchanged?

Well no, actually. Inflation on the cost of goods and services in the UK has risen on average by around 2.9% each year. That 2.9% figure is based on the Bank of England’s CPI information, and there is little difference when using inflation calculators that rely on RPI data instead. We’re not going to delve into A-Level economics and debate the differences here – this is a car blog, not the Financial Times.

2017 New Volkswagen Mk7.5 Golf GTI

Inflation between March 2005 and March 2017 totals roughly – wait for it – 39%. Meaning a new Mk7.5 Golf GTI costs within £75 of what the financial data tells us it should do in 2017. It also means we’re getting a better deal in 2017 with 230hp, and the continuous improvement in technology and specification that has taken place in the last decade. So the next time someone exclaims the new Golf GTI is far too expensive, feel free to shut them down with data.

We couldn’t just leave it at one car, however. The Golf GTI may happen to be a freak automotive bellwether, so we checked out the new Golf R, just to be sure. But this time we went even further back with our research. All the way back to 2002, and the introduction of the Mk4 R32. (more…)

Geneva 2017 | Lamborghini Huracán Performante

It’s bright orange, it’s got a huge rear wing, and it’s a Lamborghini. Of course we were going to feature the new Huracán Performante on EngageSportMode.

2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

The Performante is hardly a well-kept secret, as disguised test versions have been spotted out in the wild for months. We’ve also already seen the video of Lamborghini setting a new Nürburgring Nordschleife production car lap record of 6 minutes 52.01 seconds. Yet despite not being a surprise, it’s still a deeply impressive machine, and offers up more than the typical “less weight, more power” supercar special edition formula.

2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

 

For a start, Lamborghini has made use of Forged Composite technology, which sounds a little like a cross between regular carbon fibre and glass fibre construction. In short, it has allowed Lamborghini to craft bumpers, and other complex shapes, from a lightweight, but strong, material. The result is a saving of some 40kg, with the 4WD Performante clocking up a family hatchback-rivalling 1,382kg weight on the scales.

2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

The 5.2-litre V10 engine has also been updated, with output now 631hp at 8,000rpm. That’s an increase of 29hp over the regular Huracán, whilst torque has also increased from 413lb-ft to 442lb-ft. Proving that the effects of Dieselgate don’t quite appear to have reached Sant’Agata, CO2 emissions have increased to 302g/km – although we doubt that will be a major concern for any customers. Likewise the official combined fuel economy of 20.6mpg. Lamborghini is also keen to stress that the manifold cover is now bronze, in a knowing nod to previous special edition models. Exhaust noises are also said to be made even more aggressive, with a revised higher position.

2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

So far, so standard supercar upgrades. However, where the Performante does move things on is with the use of active aerodynamics system. Which actually sounds far better in Italian: Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA). Working on both the front spoiler, and vents in the rear engine cover, the ALA system can with between low drag and high downforce, or even allow aero vectoring. The latter shapes air flowing across the rear spoiler, and pushes the inside wheel harder into the ground to increase traction when cornering at high speed. Clearly this is more than just Lamborghini bolting on the biggest set of wings and spoiler they could find.

2017 Lamborghini Huracán Performante

Suspension settings have been stiffened by 10% over the regular Huracán, with optional magnetically adjustable dampers also available. The steering has also been recalibrated for better response and feel, although we wonder just how much you can fine tune a supercar. Braking is via carbon ceramic discs, with six-pot calipers at the front and four-pots gripping the rear. Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres are fitted to the 20″ wheels as standard, with optional track-orientated Pirelli Trofeo R rubber also on offer. (more…)