The Touge Showdown will always be one of my favorite bits of automotive media to watch. It’s a competition put on by the guys behind Best Motoring and Hot Version to see which Japanese tuners can build the best overall balanced car for street driving (touge is a term used for the mountain roads of Japan). The motivation was to discourage a troubling trend that the hosts noticed where tuning shops were selling customer hardcore extreme tuned cars with stiff suspension and stripped out amenities. While great for track racing, these cars were completely inappropriate for the average enthusiast driving on the street everyday. Cars participating in the Touge Showdown have to have full interiors, air conditioning and use street legal tires. A special twist and bumpy course was chosen to make sure the cars had enough suspension to be fast over imperfect tarmac.
This particular tournament is an all-star bash of previous tournament winners. Though filmed in 2011, this is the first time we’ve had access to them with English subtitles. There wasn’t enough demand for Best Motoring and Hot Version DVD’s in America to justify production, but the magic of digital distribution now makes it cost effective for us to be able to watch these videos. The free version is broken up into 4 parts with commercials every now and again to advertise the paid download version.
Part 1 has the guys testing out the two All-Wheel Drive entrants. First up is the C-Ser Subaru Impreza tuned by the guy who started Yashio Factory. The tuning focus of the Impreza was on torque which led to a 2.5 liter block, small twin turbos and a lower redline. The second AWD car is the MCR R35 GT-R. This is the first outing for the car with the HKS GT800R symmetrical double turbo kit.
The Best Motoring crew rounded up what looks to be all of the rotary engine tuners in Japan for a 5 lap battle around Tsukuba. What’s interesting is that RX-7’s took the top place finishes, but RX-8’s set the fastest lap times. The begs the question of whether or not the RX-8 will establish a reputation for racing as legendary as the FD RX-7. The RX-8 seems to have better suspension design, but the RX-7 is smaller and lighter. It definitely makes for exciting battles like this one. Now that I’m an RX-8 owner (more details to follow), I can understand why rotor heads are so fanatical about these cars.
Best Motoring is a Japanese organization that puts out DVD’s where they review both factory and aftermarket tuned cars. Their roster of drivers and presenters consists almost exclusively of world class professional drivers that compete in the Japanese Grand Touring Championship (JGTC). One of the reasons I enjoy their DVD’s so much is that they test everything through wheel to wheel racing. The car lineups are always varied and interesting with themes like Turbo vs. NA, Lightweight vs. Power, AWD vs. 2WD and VTEC club battles to name a few. One of their favorite races to set up is Japan vs. the World. It works just like it sounds. They’ll take the fastest car that the Japanese automakers have to offer and put their oldest and craziest drivers behind the wheel. The rest of the guys will fall in with the latest and greatest from Europe and America. For many years, the Japanese cars were handicapped by the gentlemen’s agreement between all of their automakers that limited power output to 280hp. During this period, the Japanese had to try and hold their own against powerful European super cars with chassis balance since power wasn’t an option. Being represented by the driver most willing to take risks on track didn’t hurt, either. This Super Battle at the Twin Ring Motegi is the best example of one of these Japan vs. The World races that I can find:
Here’s another point in the discussion of making green cars fun vs. making fun cars green. Best Motoring put together this track battle around a rain-soaked Tsukuba circuit after Honda released the CR-Z in Japan. The two main cars to pay attention to are the Tec-Arts Eco AE86 and the Modulo Sports CR-Z. The Tec-Arts Eco AE86 has been modified to improve its gas mileage. The alternator and the starter were updated to modern units and the power steering was converted from hydraulic to electric assist all in the name of reducing parasitic drag on the engine. Reflective window tint was also installed to reduce the need of the air conditioning. The Modulo Sports CR-Z is a factory trim package that was available only in Japan. It comes with sport springs, dampers, brake pads and Advan Neova AD08 tires. Watch the video to see how they did. The race starts at 3:30 after the introduction of the cars.