Here on Flux Auto we cover a lot of high performance cars from Detroit’s Big 3 that have caused many people to say that the new Golden Age of Muscle Cars is here. While that may be true, advances in automotive engineering have benefited all genres of performance cars. One of the most popular segments among enthusiasts are the Hot Hatches thanks to their strong combination of fun, practicality and low cost of owning and operating. We could even say that we might be approaching a new Golden Age for the Hot Hatch with the recent focus on high tech turbocharged engines, lightweight and optimized interior space thanks to slow economies all around the world. It could also be said that it’s a new Golden Age of Hot Hatches simply because there is a viable alternative to the perennial king of the genre, the Volkswagen GTi. Carlos Lago puts the new 2.0 liter turbocharged Ford Focus ST up against the top of the line VW Golf R. Ford has really raised the bar for front wheel drive chassis balance in the ST which brings us to another Golden Age that we’re in and the funky title to this video.
As it turns out, the Volkswagen has an intrusive stability control system that can’t be turned off. There’s no getting around the the system slowing the car down as you try to find its limits. That’s right folks, we are in the Golden Age of electronic nannies in cars. Instead of learning how to be better drivers, the world has demanded that automakers add complex electronic systems to cars in attempt to make them idiotproof. Well don’t worry because Carlos thought of a way to keep the otherwise interesting comparison going. The Volkswagen Golf R gets substituted out for Motor Trend’s long-term test Subaru BRZ for the track driving portion. Randy Pobst takes them both around the Horse Thief Mile at Willow Springs to see how they perform at their limits. The BRZ and the Focus ST are actually pretty close in price which makes this a relevant power vs. balance comparison for weekend warriors shopping for entry level performance cars.
Subaru figured out a long time ago the benefits using a car as the foundation of an all wheel drive platform. The Subaru owners have been rallying and muddin’ ever since. That’s what we call tradition. This year’s 14th annual West Coast Subaru Show demonstrates that the Subaru tradition is alive and well.
You’re going to want to set aside a solid 45 minutes to watch these videos. We continue to reap the benefits of YouTube paying good money to car magazines for original content to rival traditional TV shows. Motor Trend’s latest installment is their 2012 Best Driver’s Car compilation. I like the way they do this annual comparison because a lot of people tend to misuse the term “driver’s car,” but Motor Trend has got it right and they stick to their guns. What makes a good driver’s car goes way beyond the numbers of the performance statistics. The 0-60 time doesn’t say anything about the car’s balance, feedback, fun or driver engagement. Those things are much harder to describe, but thankfully we have Johnny Lieberman, Carlos Lagos and Randy Pobst here working together to convey the driving experiences of this dream car lineup. This year they rounded up the Jaguar XKR-S, Subaru BRZ, Lamborghini Aventador, Porsche 911 Carrera S, Ford Shelby GT500, Nissan GT-R Black Edition, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series and McLaren MP4-12C. The boys start out by doing winding road introductions of each car and then they turn them over to Randy for hot laps around Laguna Seca. They finish up by choosing a top 3 and then driving them some more to pick an overall winner.
I’ll wrap up this year’s coverage of 86 Day with this pit walk video from Fuji Speedway. It starts off in the parking lot and then winds through all of the vendors that were present. It seems the Toyota GT-86 / Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ has already been well embraced by the Japanese aftermarket tuners. There’s a couple of N2 cars from Crystal Body Yokohama and Tec-Arts and D1 FT-86’s from Up Garage and HKS.