The Evo 9 is, in this author’s humble opinion, the last good-looking Evo. Sure, the current – and final – version X of the rally-bred sedan will outperform its predecessor stock-for-stock, but it just don’t have the charm the older car does. This particular Evolution has a host of common bolt-on parts for an honest-to-god 430 horsepower at the wheels, and feels every bit of it. Now we’re just going to have to do something about that suspension…..
This week Jeff Glucker (@jglucker) of Hooniverse joins us again as we recap the TST world tour. Matt has just returned from a trip to Monaco to watch the Grand Prix with his father, Jeff gives us the gift of ridiculous Nurburgring stories, we discuss the Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the new Z06, the general debacle that was the Camaro launch event and some quality time was spent with Jaguar and Range Rover in their newest F-Type and Sport SVR variants.
Also, we are raising money for Hope for the Warriors, an incredible charity that will be the benefactor of this year’s Rally North America Smokey Mountain Rally! Help our team out by donating even as little as $1!
Two weeks back, we drove the new Volkswagen Golf R and fell in love; we didn’t want to give it back, and we’re pretty sure that, for $40,000, that’s one of the best cars on the market right now. But what if you want to whack a solid 25% off that MSRP? This 2015 VW GTI Performance Package has a similar 2.0L turbo engine making 220 horsepower, the same dual-clutch gearbox, nearly the same body and interior, but only drives the front wheels. However, even this fully loaded example is $30,500, about $9,500 less than the Golf R. So, which is the better value?
It feels like we’ve been on a Subaru streak recently, and so we wanted to cap off our block of flat-four goodness with by far the coolest of them all: a 500-Horsepower Forester. The Forester is an appliance car if there ever was one, but if you check off that “XT” option box, you get the engine from the STI, ending up with a nice little sleeper that is totally friendly to modifications. And, unlike the winged Hawkeye, or the world’s loudest hatchback, or the Launch Edition 2015 model, no one will look at you twice in a Forester.
Rene’s forester is quiet, refined, and frankly, too fast for the road on which we’re driving it, but we know a winner when we see one, and this thing has winner written all over it.
The Smoking Tire will be returning to Rally North America this year, as you may remember our Anthony Bourdain-esque video coverage from last year’s event, behind the wheel of a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT!
Unlike other rallies, where the “charity” aspect is just enough that you can make some kind of excuse to the cops when you get pulled over, Rally North America is about charity first, good people second, good roads third, and speeding comes at a distant tenth or so. That’s why we like it.
Last year, Rally North America was able to raise over $110,000 for the Accelerated Cure Project, and it is the responsibility of each team to raise as much as possible for Rally North America’s chosen charity. Not only is it good to give, but those teams who give the most are given preferential treatment and starting position along the way on the rally. It’s a good way of doing things really.
For the first time, The Smoking Tire has set up our own donations page, and with an audience of our size, we should be able to raise a lot of money for this year’s charity, Hope for the Warriors. You can read all about them here, but the short version is that they greatly assist returning soldiers with re-assimilating to normal, productive, non-warring life. It’s a wonderful organization that needs all our help. Anything you can share helps, even as little as $1.
I’ve gotten the ball rolling with a $400 donation, and if I can do it, so can you. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s for a very good cause. Support The Smoking Tire’s fundraising efforts on Rally North America to give as much as we can to Hope for the Warriors!
We’ve been pretty thorough on our Subaru coverage recently, with the new 2015 STI, a 2007 “Hawkeye” version, and now this 2014 WRX hatchback that’s been massaged and modified in a bunch of ways, from engine, to fuel supply, to suspension, wheels, and tires, it’s got it all. But how does it drive?
We’ve been having a lot of fun with the #MillionMileLexus as it accrues miles during our care. In case you’re not up to speed, in December of 2014, Matt bought a 1996 Lexus LS400 with 897,000 documented miles in Tampa, FL. He road tripped it home, then lent it out to some friends for one road trip, then some other friends for another road trip, and even more friends for a road trip, and then it ended up on display at the Petersen Museum. You see, the point of this exercise is to end up with a verified one million miles while developing a “most interesting man in the world” provenance for this particular LS400. And it’s working: in just five months, the car has appeared in as many publications and become a meme.
The Lexus’s most recent borrower is a fine chap called Mike Villa, a professional photographer who asked if he could do a top-level photoshoot with the Lexus on a road trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Of course, we obliged, and he returned some spectacular photos. Here they are, in giant, super-high resolution, desktop format. Enjoy!
Also feel free to check out the ongoing story of the Lexus over at my WheelWell Garage