Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Auto Keirning Cars

Reviews Sport Car Collection Of Various Sources

Thursday, July 29, 2010


August 2010 Issue of Kit Car Magazine have done a feature on Great British Sports Cars and the Zero car. They visited the GBS factory and had a test drive in the Zero.
Also last week GBS customer Mike Smith came from Wrexham to the factory to collect his Zetec Zero Kit.
We are currently working on our demonstrator Zero car which we aim to have ready for the beginning of August, we are now taking bookings for test drives, so please get in touch to book yours. For more information about the Zero kits please visit our website or call 01623 860 990

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rumor: 2012 Porsche Cayman Clubsport headed for LA Auto Show

2010 Porsche Cayman S

According to Porsche enthusiast site, a hardcore version of the Cayman, dubbed CS or Clubsport, will be shown at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show in December. This isn't the first time we've heard rumblings of a lighter, more powerful Cayman, but now that Porsche has successfully launched the Boxster Spyder, it's only fitting that the same sort of package be offered on its harder-core hardtop sister.

Expect the Clubsport to produce around 333 horsepower from its 3.4-liter flat-six, an increase of 13 hp over the Cayman S. From there, lightweight 19-inch wheels will be standard, as will fabric door pulls, aluminum body components and a slightly revised front fascia that we've seen on the Boxster Spyder. Obviously, the real goal with a Clubsport model is lightness, and Planet-9 reports that the CS should be about 162 to 184 pounds lighter than the stock Cayman S.

If the LA Auto Show reveal stands true, the Cayman CS should be hitting the road sometime in 2011 as a 2012 model, priced from around $66,300. Fingers crossed, everyone.

[Source: Planet-9]

Maserati Quattroporte gets served up Novitec Style.


Anytime German auto tuner Novitec gets its hands on an exotic car you know that good things will happen. They’ve done multiple Ferrari’s, Audi’s, Porsche’s and BMW’s along with just about every other high-end manufacturer out there, and with this they’ve managed to build a reputation as one of the best exotic car tuning companies in the business. It now seems Novitec has gotten the bug to play with Maserati’s as it has just released a complete package for the Quattroporte S and Sport GTS.

Novitec Maserati Quattroporte

By supercharging the engine from the Maserati GTS Novitec has managed to increase power from a base of 440 hp to a whopping 600 hp. This means 0-60 times of just 4.5 seconds and a top speed of around 195 mph. Also keep in mind that this is still a big 4 passenger grand touring car. For $36,000 you get one supercharger, water-cooled inter-coolers, reinforced V-ribbed belts, fuel injectors and everything else you’ll need to make your once fast Maserati a whole hell of a lot faster.


Review: 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart

2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart

There has always been a glaringly obvious gap in Mitsubishi's current Lancer lineup. On the bottom is the... Lancer, a biggish-for-its-class economy car that no one particularly likes – at least that's what the sales charts would indicate. It's slow, filled with cheap plastics and dull. It hasn't even proven to be all that reliable by Japanese small-car standards, but at least it looks good. At the top of the heap and on a wholly different plane sits the Lancer Evolution. It's the giant-slayer, David, the little car that humbles supercars. It's also the hottest of the rally-inspired all-wheel-drive turbocharged pocket rockets. The Evo's only real competition is the Subaru WRX STI and, let's be honest, the Evo has been the better car for years now (Subaru has just updated its warrior for 2011, so a new comparison is in order). Its handling is more precise, yet at the same time more insane. The Mitsu is rawer, rougher, tougher and most importantly faster, even though it's down half a liter on the WRX STI in terms of displacement. Don't read this wrong, the STI is a fine backroad killer. But the EVO is more homicidal.

It looks like a toned down Evo, which is exactly what Mitsubishi wants you to think.
Back to that gap. In the middle of its arch rival's portfolio has long lived the WRX, Subaru's Goldie Loxian sportster, which is very fast, very nimble, but very well priced (it still starts at under $25,000). The WRX has long threaded the needle between excellent all-around performance and the customer not being able to afford a higher monthly payment. Subaru, therefore, has sold a ton of them, for not only does the WRX offer all that power and rally-bred oomph at a low price, it can be had as a wagon. Mitsubishi had nothing until this year, when the Japanese industrial powerhouse brought over two new flavors of its hopped-up Lancer, the Ralliart and the Ralliart Sportback.

Today we're taking a look at the supposedly more practical of those two additions, the five-door Sportback. When the pictures of the Lancer Sportback Ralliart started spilling onto this here internet, Yours Truly was especially excited. The main reason being that for the past eight years, I've owned a WRX wagon in one form or another. Biased? You could say that, but at that same time, I've been driving Evos against STIs and have remained aware (perhaps painfully aware) that the Evo is the sharper blade. Perhaps, then, the Sportback Ralliart could be my next fast and furious wagon, or at least go wheel-to-wheel with its competition from Fuji Heavy Industries?

The Sportback is most certainly that: Practicality has been traded away in favor of a devilishly raked rear liftgate that's almost comical. One could argue that the point of a five-door (you can argue amongst yourselves where a hatchback ends and a wagon picks up) is its versatility and cargo-swallowing capacity. Of course, we should point out that despite appearances, the Sportback Ralliart offers nearly 47 cubic feet of stowage, whereas the WRX gives you just 44. Specs not withstanding, our empirical observations suggest that it's easier to pack junk into the Subaru than it is the awkwardly proportioned Mitsubishi. That sharply sloping piece of glass will get your bigger bags almost every time.

As far as the rest of the car is concerned, it looks like a toned-down Evo, which is exactly what Mitsubishi wants you to think. Which is fine, as in many ways, the Sportback Ralliart is exactly that. Viewed from the front, you can plainly see that the tires are thinner, the intercooler is smaller and schnoz less aggressive. Viewed from the side, you can see the sills look a little tacked-on. Speaking of tacked-on, just imagine how strange the Sportback would look if you were to unbolt its rear wing – somewhere between the old Mazda 626 Touring and the Sterling 827? Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What's not in anyone's eye is the drab interior that Mitsubishi stuffed into the Sportback Ralliart. Filled with greasy plastics and almost no design of interest whatsoever (just look at the radio), the interior is where the Sportback Ralliart's econobox roots are most painfully apparent. The bargain-basement Lancer starts at $14,790 and features the exact same dash. Don't feel too bad, however, because unless you opt for the navigation system, the $33,590 EVO also comes with that same radio. You could make the argument that cheapo interiors are endemic to go-fast economy cars stuffed to the gills with fancy performance parts – the WRX's cabin is hardly a gift, after all. But then how to explain the Volkswagen GTI? Point is, overly and overtly lousy materials are no longer defensible in a car that starts at $27,590 plus delivery.

At least Mitsubishi gets the important bits right, and we mean really right. The paddle-shifters, for instance, are excellent, being big, metallic (magnesium, actually) and column mounted. There are lots of supposed luxury sports car out there that could only wish for such fine paddles. Then there's the meaty leather steering wheel and equally stout gear shifter. These are the sorts of materials required in a proper performance car. The metal-capped pedals are also quite nice. Again, the parts that matter for driving are, in fact, excellent.

There are a few buttons we have to mention before moving on. The first is the lonely looking AWC button. AWC stands for All-Wheel Control and pushing it changes the way the active central differential routes torque to the four wheels. Your choices are Tarmac, Gravel and Snow. We tried the different AWC settings in Gravel (we tested the car in Palm Springs and Los Angeles, so, sorry, no snow) and the grip does seem better on those types of roads with the setting engaged. That said, it was worlds more fun running Tarmac on a bunch of loose rocks, as the Sportback Ralliart slid around nicely under hard acceleration.

Then there's the SST selector, which will seem quite familiar to those of you who enjoy Guitar Hero, as it's the same as the little thingy you strum. This paddle switch changes the TC-SST dual-clutch six-speed transmission from Normal to Sport. As you might imagine, Normal is a laggard mode tailored for smoothness and fuel economy, where the transmission will happily shift itself up to sixth gear by the time you crest 40 mph. Sport is a pretty good middle ground, as the engine revs higher before the transmission changes gears. Unlike big-brother Evo, Sportback Ralliarts don't feature S-Sport mode, which would provide still higher revs before shifting. However, even in Sport, the TC-SST doesn't seem to shift at high rpm. Instead, you just buzz around near redline. Our preferred choice was to select Sport, but then do all the shifting ourselves via the sweet paddles. Either way, mileage is pretty bad – despite the EPA suggesting that you'll hit 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 out on the highway, expect high teens combined if you're having any fun at all.

Speaking of redline, this is a buzz-box of an engine. Fitted with a turbocharger, the 4B11T 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder is capable of producing 237 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 253 pound-feet or torque at 3,000 rpm. The torque is most noticeable, as the Sportback Ralliart simply surges when you whack the go pedal. Not only does it feel like it's surging, it sounds like it, too. If shrieking four-bangers are your thing, you're going to love it. If not, you will notice that Mitsubishi sure didn't waste any money on soundproofing. Obviously, compared to the 265-hp WRX, the Ralliart is down in the horsepower department.

Worst of all, it feels it. While the initial take off is potent – brutal even – things seem to slow down a bit once you get above 45 mph. Now, while it still sounds like you're going faster as the engine keeps screaming and screaming, brazen, tire-shredding acceleration is not the Sportback Ralliart's forte. Case in point, the weirdly quick WRX can hit 60 mph in 4.7 seconds (with an outlet or two clocking it at a silly 4.5), whereas the Sportback Ralliart takes a relatively leisurely 5.5 seconds to do the deed. Quick, sure, but not crazy quick.

If speed isn't the Sportback Ralliart's biggest virtue and selling point, surely handling is. And it is, to a point. Turn the wheel, and you're instantly filled with the sense that there's a whole lot of rally-heritage packed into the chassis. And there is. The chassis and most of the suspension pieces are from an Evo, though not the current one. The all-wheel-drive system in fact comes from the last generation Evo IX. Less pricey tires, too. The result is that while the car feels like a rally monster and consequently you feel like a rally hero, the limits are in fact pretty low. We imagine the sheer volume of noise in the cabin has something to do with this seeming conundrum.

Here's an example: You're hooning along your favorite road and here comes that one decreasing radius, rising elevation turn you know like the back of your Pilotis. You downshift, you turn in, you modulate the throttle, and man, listen to them tires squeal! Thing is, if you weren't so preoccupied with the task at hand, a quick glance down at the speedometer would reveal that you're not moving nearly as quickly as you thought you were. Lack of grip and a preference for understeer are the Sportback Ralliart's biggest handling shortcomings. Put another way, if numbers matter to you (skidpad, lap times), look elsewhere. However, if you just want a little wagon that feels great when the going gets twisty, this one isn't so bad.

While certainly not a bad car, the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart is a compromised vehicle. In strict terms of the competition, I like it more than the twitchy MazdaSpeed3 but less than a Subaru WRX. While the Mazda has more power, the Mitsubishi's smart AWD system (last generation or not) lays the power down in a much more competent and satisfying way than the Speed3. The WRX, however, smokes the tires off of both. While the WRX is not the shockingly capable canyon carver it once was (blame the long travel suspension and re-packaged rear introduced in 2008), the Sportback Ralliart comes up short. Initial turn-in feels better, but that's about it. And the not-so-great WRX interior is actually a nicer place to sit. Then comes the real head scratcher: the price. More than $31,000 as tested for Sportback Ralliart is starting to creep dangerously close to Evo/STI territory. And the STI comes as a five-door...

BMW Recalls 5 Series And 5 Series GT

BMW 5 Series GT

Do you drive a 2010 or 2011 BMW 5 Series or 5 Series GT? If so, you’ll be hearing from BMW in the very near future, as all models of 5 Series cars are being recalled. At issue is a fuel level sensor which can get stuck on the inside of the fuel tank, indicating a higher level of fuel than the car actually has. Drivers can unintentionally run their vehicle out of fuel, increasing the risk of accident, especially in traffic. No accidents have been reported to date.

Motor Authority reports that approximately 6,100 vehicles, having build dates between January 12, 2010 and July 1, 2010, are affected by this recall. BMW has yet to announce recall dates or a specific fix, which will likely involve replacing the fuel tank level sensor.

Monday, July 26, 2010

2011 Audi A7 Sportback Continues 4-Door Coupe Craze

Audi A7

Not to be outdone by the likes of Aston Martin, BMW or Porsche, Audi has jumped into the sportback segment of the automotive market with the new A7. The concept of the sportback is simple. Take a four door sedan but streamline it so it gives off the impression that it is in fact a two door coupe. Then combine in the versatility of a hatchback and POOF… instant sportback. Porsche has the butt ugly Panamera, BMW has the 5 Series Gran Turismo and Aston Martin now has the stunning Rapide.

2011 Audi A7

Design wise it’s difficult to make a car in this configuration and have it look good. In fact up until now Aston Martin was the only manufacturer to nail it. Audi however is coming in hard and fast with the A7 and truth be told, it’s a good looking automobile. The new A7 has design elements that give its body line a low-slung, aerodynamic look and feel. Combine that with the long sloping hood and chopped rear deck lid and you have one aggressive looking gran touring sedan.

2011 Audi A7

From a visual standpoint the A7 is light years ahead of BMW’s 5 Series Gran Turismo and Porsche’s turtle shaped Panamera. The real question though is how is this going to affect the sales of Audi’s other big beauty, the A8. Side by side both cars exude power, elegance and sophistication, as a buyer though I’d think I’d be torn on which one to buy.

From a technical standpoint the new 2011 Audi A7 features fun toys like touchscreen navigation, a Bang & Olufsen stereo system with 1,300 watts of power (that may be overkill), full bluetooth capabilities and just about every current automotive safety feature known to man. Right now there is not too much information for those of us here in the States, but stay tuned because as soon as we learn more, you’ll learn more.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rumor: Mazda Working On Next Generation, Forced-Induction RX-7

1992 Mazda RX-7 Turbo

If you’re an automotive journalist who’s also a gear head, it’s easy to despair over all the news coming from manufacturer’s these days. Like them or not, we’re about to be force fed a steady diet of hybrid automobiles in every shape, size and configuration. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-hybrid; they have their place in commuter cars. I AM anti-hybrid when it comes to building an enthusiast oriented sport sedan. I don’t want the added weight, complexity or cost of a hybrid drivetrain, especially when the increase in fuel mileage is only 10 to 20 percent.

So with that in mind, I really hope the latest rumor about Mazda, as reported on Autoevolution, is true. Sources at Mazda report work on a turbocharged variant of their Renesis rotary motor, for use in a new sports coupe dubbed the RX 9. The best news is that we’ll see the car as soon as 2013, and it appears that Mazda is taking it in the pure-sports-car direction of the last generation RX-7 Turbo.

There are some significant hurdles to overcome, including lowering emissions from the Renesis motor (now out of production in the EU because of stricter environmental regulations) and boosting the Renesis’ dismal fuel economy. Mazda has tricks up their sleeve to address these failings, but they’re not providing many details. An inside source reveals that Mazda is working on electric turbocharging as a way to reduce emissions, which will need to meet even stricter standards in the EU by 2014.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Last week a factory built Zero was collected from the GBS factory by George St. Galankis who is going to be our new representative in Greece along with Harris Adamopoulos. George came over from Greece to collect the car and then drove it back along with Harris in his 2B and one of the directors of GBS Richard Hall and good friend Adrian Rossall.
Along the way they met up with a few of our other customers and agents across Europe including France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Italy with final destination Athens Greece!

They visited the Nurburgring in Germany, where they promoted the car to potential customers and went around the ring. After Nurburgring their next stop was over the Alps through Stelvio Pass into Italy with stunning views and twisty roads, then straight into Ancona Port Italy and across to Patras Port in Greece where they spent two days showing of the cars to potential customers.
Currently planning the next trip to the Nurburgring which we intend to take two Zeros into the ring will be in September. More information coming soon.

For all enquires about the Zero please visit our new website or call 01623 860 990.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ICONIC Motors announces production of AC Roadster to start in 2011

2011 ICONIC Motors AC Roadster

Most small American supercar companies don't seem to have the best of luck, which is why we were somewhat skeptical when we first heard of ICONIC Motors. The concept was impressive if not somewhat unbelievable – a lightweight roadster with an aluminum 6.9-liter V8 putting out 800 horsepower with design cues inspired by the legendary Shelby Cobra. The GTR, as it was then named, made its debut at the 2008 Amelia Island Concours, and we got our first look at the car at the New York Auto Show shortly thereafter.

We haven't heard much from ICONIC since then, but apparently the company has been quite busy finalizing the production version that includes a few design changes from the original concept. In the last two years, ICONIC has also formed a partnership with AC Cars, and the car has officially been renamed the AC Roadster. ICONIC has scheduled a 2011 release date for customer cars and states that they currently taking orders.

[Source: ICONIC Motors]

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Details Released

2011 VW Jetta

There’s good news for fans of VW’s perennial favorite sedan: the 2011 Jetta gives you more style for less money. The 2011 model boasts distinctive new exterior styling and has grown nearly four inches in length compared to the 2010 model. The interior hasn’t changed much since 2010, but that’s not a bad thing since VW routinely receives praise for interior comfort and quality. The best news? The starting price for a base 2.0 liter Jetta will be a miserly $15,995.00.

2011 VW Jetta

Buyers in the U.S. will have a choice of four motors, starting with the base 2.0 liter four, which produces 113 horsepower and yields a zero to sixty time of 10.3 seconds with a manual transmission (11.3 seconds with the automatic). Fuel economy for the 2.0 liter motor is rated at 34 mpg for the manual and 32 mpg for the automatic. Top speed, which most Jettas equipped with this motor will never see, is 120 miles per hour.

Next up is the 2.5 liter five cylinder, derived from the V10 used in the Lamborghini Gallardo: it makes 168 horsepower and will hit sixty in 8.0 seconds with the manual gearbox and 8.5 seconds with the automatic. Fuel economy is still reasonable at 33 mpg highway (manual transmission) and 31 mpg highway (automatic). Top speed for the five cylinder is listed as 125 mph.

The motor favored by those who like driving will be the 2.0 liter, four cylinder turbo. Rated at 197 horsepower, the forced induction four will see sixty in 6.7 seconds with the manual transmission or 6.8 seconds with VW’s outstanding DSG gearbox. Fuel economy is surprisingly good (assuming you don’t hit max boost on every shift), and comes in at 33 mpg with the manual and 32 mpg with the DSG transmission. Top speed is rated at 130 mph.

Finally, there’s the TDI motor that diesel fans know and love. The 2.0 liter turbodiesel makes 138 horsepower, good enough to get your Jetta to sixty in just under nine seconds with the manual tranny, or just over nine seconds with the DSG. Fuel economy , as you’d expect from a TDI, is impressive: the DSG version gets 42 mpg highway and the manual gearbox TDI sees 41 mpg. Top speed is 125 miles per hour.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

First Drive: 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

By most accounts, something went awry while Subaru was baking the last generation Impreza WRX STI. Maybe someone slipped in an extra cup of civility or forgot to add enough dashes of hardcore, but what was once little more than a thinly-disguised rally stage escapee had come out of the oven a little weaker than its predecessor. Subaru itself diplomatically admits that the priorities for the last generation STI were somewhat different from the 2011 model. The company stripped the line down to just the five-door hatchback in 2008, stressing functionality over style, and the whole recipe simply felt less focused than what we had come to expect from Japan's all-wheel drive hero.

But that was then, and this is now. The company assures us that for 2011, we can expect a return to the fundamentals that helped establish the STI as a force to be reckoned with. Though the drivetrain remains unchanged, a slew of suspension adjustments and a lower stance have given the STI the ability to hoover up tarmac and gravel stages indiscriminately once again. It isn't a completely new generation – more like a much needed do-over – but the changes are enough to make the 2011 model instantly recognizable from behind the wheel.

If that's not enough to convince you, allow us to direct your attention to the rear of the resurrected four-door body style, dominated once again by the kind of spoiler that could double as a civil engineering exercise. Yeah, baby. The STI is back, and on more than just a wing and a prayer.

In five-door guise, the WRX STI looks much as it did last year. There are a few subtle changes to the fascias front and rear, but otherwise, the body is nearly identical to its ancestor. Buyers and fans alike will be hard-pressed to miss the newest addition to the option sheet, though: the return of the four-door. Subaru hasn't offered the meanest variant of its sedan since 2007, largely because the rally set kept clamoring for a car with a shorter rear overhang. Unfortunately, most American buyers still can't seem to wrap their heads around the concept of a hatch that can get up and go.

Though the base WRX now comes straight from the factory with the same widebody treatment as the STI, you should have no problem picking the more sinister variant out from a crowd. The four-door comes straight off of the boat with an iconic STI rear wing and a smattering of delicious red badges snugged over the grille, fender heat escapes and rear trunk lid. Those with an eye for detail may also pick up on slightly larger 18x8.5-inch wheels and a stance that has been dropped by a marginal four mm. Look closely, and you'll also notice the STI-only Dunlop SP Sport 600 Summer tires, with their gooey Pangaea-sized tread blocks.

Complete with its rear wing, the sedan version of the 2011 STI looks downright menacing. The widebody treatment is easier to spot compared to the five-door version, thanks in part to the bulging rear quarters, and the overall effect is a squat, muscular stance. While the look is a little showy for the less potent WRX, it's right at home on the mighty STI.

Inside, Subaru has included a few tricks to help distinguish its performance trim from the rest of the pack, including leather bucket seats in Limited trim. Just like last year, a few of those sexy STI badges have migrated indoors, situating themselves on the headrests, steering wheel and center console. The designers have removed the majority of the faux-metal trim on the dash in favor of black plastic accents, though the easily-scratched material remains around the shifter. In our experience, the silver-effect trim looks sharp while brand-new, but doesn't stand up to the wear and tear of normal use very well. We would just as soon see it all deleted from the cabin.

As we said earlier, the drivetrain is a direct carryover from 2010, though you won't hear us complain. At 305 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque, the turbocharged 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder has no problem mustering up jackhammer levels of commotion. Bolted to an excellent six-speed manual transmission and one very adjustable interpretation of the Subaru all-wheel drive system, the go bits can launch all 3,384 pounds of four-door to 60 mph in a scant 4.9 seconds. Driver's unfamiliar with the turbo Subaru philosophy will likely notice a hefty touch of turbo lag, but it wasn't enough to concern us, especially considering how often we kept the tach pointed due north. Surprisingly enough, the sedan's aerodynamics allow it to carry a top speed of 158 mph – three mph faster than the hatch.

Don't think that Subaru has simply dropped a hotter drivetrain and a reworked suspension into the WRX and called it a day, though. The engineers claim that both the sedan and hatch STI platforms are vastly stiffer than their WRX counterparts, thanks largely to a number of high-tensile steel reinforcements sprinkled through the structure to help it handle the extra horsepower. That means that even if you managed to swap all of the necessary STI hardware into a WRX after the two had left the factory, the latter still wouldn't be as quick as the former around your favorite road course.

In order to help the 2011 STI recoup some of its lost menace, Subaru's engineers fitted the car with front springs that are 16 percent stiffer than the bits found on last year's car. Impressive, sure, but not nearly so eye-widening as the 53 percent stiffer rear coils. As a compliment, the car also wears slightly larger sway bars, too – up one mm front and rear to 21 and 19 mm, respectively. Combined with the slightly reduced ride-height, the whole package is designed to help the 2011 STI retake its throne as a first-class tarmac terror, but the icing on the cake has to be the car's new pillow ball bushings where the front wishbones meet the body structure.

Instead of a traditional rubber bushing, Subaru has decided to go with a steel ball nestled in a metal sleeve. While the sleeve is surrounded by thin strips of rubber to help isolate that cabin from some of the noise and vibrations of the suspension, the ball-in-socket design yields significantly lower amounts of lateral flex, helping to keep the STI's camber and toe in check under extreme driving conditions – the kind of stuff we tend to put a vehicle through on the way to the grocery store.

All told, Subaru says the changes have resulted in a .93 g pull on the skid pad. Not a bad improvement over the .90 g of last year's model. Since we can already hear the rancorous cacophony of fan boy keyboards in full assault over the fact that the 2010 WRX STI Special Edition managed a heady .92 g, allow us to point out that the new version borrows nothing suspension-wise from that model. Furthermore, don't expect to see the same stripped-down, less expensive SE in 2011 guise. The car won't make a return for the next model year.

Spring rates and skid pad numbers are interesting and all, but in the end, we only really care about how well the car scoots around a track. Subaru lined us up with both a 2010 and 2011 model and allowed us to clip off three laps on a small road course with each. The differences were night and day. While muscling the 2010 around the course, we were met with a fair bit of understeer and substantially more body roll than expected in a performance machine of STI caliber, especially given the car's otherwise firm ride. That meant that certain turns required a slower entry speed and our overall lap times were not up to par.

Jumping straight into the 2011, we were immediately met with more settled, planted suspension. The STI relied less on its sticky Dunlops to get around the course than its predecessor, and made us feel like we had more skill behind the tiller than we actually possess. For the first time in two years, the STI felt closer to what we remember from the first-generation bruiser – hard hitting acceleration blended with a sophisticated suspension and brake system.

Given the more aggressive spring rates, you'd expect the 2011 WRX STI to handle like hay cart on speed, but as we spent the better part of an hour slithering up and down the tarmac that clings to the mountains around Aspen, Colorado, we honestly couldn't discern a difference in ride quality between the new model and the old. We're assuming there's some fancy damper work going on here, but no one is saying for sure. The brakes remain colossal units from Brembo, complete with four-pot clamps and 13-inch rotors up front and two-piston calipers squeezing 12.6-inch discs out back. The system is fully capable of yanking your fillings out of your teeth if you get too liberal with the middle pedal. Yes, we love it.

We have to congratulate Subaru for rearming the STI. In a world of ever eroding performance in favor of poseur looks and not much else, the company has done an intelligent job of refocusing the car toward what made it a success to begin with. The big question, of course, is how much is all of that aggressive engineering going to cost you? That all depends on what you want out of life. Subaru will be happy to put you in the four-door WRX STI for a mere $33,995 – a mere $1,000 more than the 2010 WRX STI Special Edition went for in 2010 and a full grand less than the standard model.

Things get a little more pricey when you move to five-door trim, though. If you want the functionality of the hatch, get ready to pony up $35,995. Why the extra coin? Subaru is throwing in those sexy BBS wheels as standard equipment on the long-roof version of the car, a $2,000 option otherwise. The real tragedy of this scheme is that no matter how much you pay, you still can't get them the rollers dipped in the gold paint of the old rally warriors. That is, unless you bust out your own can of Krylon. Maybe next year.


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