Go Back   Team-BHP > BHP Worldwide > The International Automotive Scene


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 17th June 2010, 18:13   #1
BHPian
 
Harbir's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Delhi
Posts: 909
Thanked: 968 Times
Default Drove 997, Cayman, M3, IS-F and RX8 at a Skip Barber event

Hey guys, I attended a skip barber driving school in Lime ROck Park, COnnecticut and posted the following message on the car board I frequent most, but I thought it might be interesting here as well.

__________________

I attended a Skip Barber event today at Lime Rock Park. It was not a proper driving school, more a Corporate Event type thing. It was of little value compared to HPDEs (skidpad apart), other than that I spent a day of driving nice cars, not much learning value. About the only thing I learned today was that just because I got decently good at one particular track in one particular car didn't mean that I was any good. In an unfamiliar car on unfamiliar curves, I don't know what the hell I am doing.Well, thats not very fair. but let me start at the beginning.

The events were as follows. two miniature tracks that they called autocross but were actual windy tarmac with significant elevation changes, as opposed to a just cones in a parking lot, albeit modified with cones on the track to create a chicane or to tighten up some curves. One real cones-in-a-parking-lot autocross with a tennis ball sitting in a bowl on the hood of the car (drive smooth so it doesn't fall out), and a wet skid pad session.

One of the "autocross" circuits was really crap for me, and drove more like a real autocross, the other felt like a miniaturized race track. I sucked terribly at the former, having done no autocross before, and was fairly fast on the second. Unfortunately the former was used much more on this day. The first one, I couldn't sort out what the lines were, what the braking and turn in points were, etc. The other one (the miniature race track one), came naturally and easily to me.

The skid pad event was brilliant but too short. I initially sucked, but then I suddenly it clicked and I was tossing and catching the RX8 very fluidly, till I did spin again, and lost the plot. I need to do a lot more of this.

The most useful part of the day was the skid pad and getting to see what the various cars were like.

The Porsche 911 Carrera was the disappointment of the day compared to the other cars there. Today the main track was being used by the PCA and walking around the paddock with endles legions of the the old warhorses, from the 60s to the present in virtually every common and exotic variation really made me wonder what makes a no-good driver like me think he can pass judgment on this hero. but none the less, the car was a disappointment to me and to virtually everyone else present. One can feel the mass in the car's ***, and one feels the car having all kinds of weird chassis behavior coming out of the car trying to keep its rear end stuck. It seems to want to lift the inside front tyre, especially when the suspension is having to stroke a lot, and that in turn produces very unusual steering behavior.

I also didn't much care for the steering feel. Porsche seems to have engineered a lot of mechanical feel into their cars, so you feel the thrash of the flat six, and the car communicates what its springs and bushings are doing very loudly, and its steering transmits all kinds of information about what the whole car is doing. This would normally be a good thing, but it didn't feel like it to me because while the car it very talkative, what it tells the driver isn't very impressive. In short, the car communicates a lot, but it communicates all the wierd things that are happening to keep the rear end where it is. At the end of the day, the 911 is unsettled, jumpy, for no apparent reason.

The E90 BMW M3 is simply devastating. Of all th e cars I drove today, it had by far the best steering and the best handling, the best engine. It was the lightest on its feet, the best balanced, the only car that felt completely integrated, of a whole. Every aspect of it was brilliant, and all the aspects of it blended seamlessly with each other into a whole. The car is so finely honed, so polished, the depth and finesse of engineering so great, I just canít think anything except this is the best car I have ever driven. If there is any complain to levy against the M3 it is that compared to the lotuses and the porsches, it feels a bit synthetic largely because the steering is light and missing the really meaty muscle and sinew steering feel you got , say in a 2002 330i. Otherwise, the car is just perfect. I am particularly awed by the engine. Itís the only 400hp engine Iíve drive that isnít just featureless plateau of torque. Itís a whipsaw of an engine, so sharp, so charismatic, so vivid! And the car is so just so intuitive, so completely free of vices and foibles that you have to drive around, really the only car Iíve experienced like that (only other recent 3 series BMWs come close). If I want a performance car thatís also a ďrealĒ car, this is it. Nothing else in my experience is even in the running. And this was the 4 door, not the carbon roofed 2 door.

Next came the Cayman. Well, frankly, itís a much better sports car than the 911. It has none of the dynamic foibles of the 911. Its a very good handling car. It has the classic midengined feel that I have come to love so much. Even the M3 feels a bit like youíre herding the lump of metal up front , that youíre basically trying to place and point that lump. The Cayman on the other hand seems to yaw, pitch and roll around the driver, and thus feels much more of a driver centered missile, and is thus very rewarding to drive. I would say that its more fun to drive than the M3.

On the flip side, it wasnít as great as I expected. Like the 911 and the boxster I have driven in the past, it has a very mechanical feel to it, it isnít a beguiling feel. It does not have the wired-to-your-nervous-system mechanical intimacy of an Elise/Exige, but then it also does not have the finely honed and refined feel of the M3 or the 335i or, surprise, the RX8. The car isnít supple and fluid in its responses, feel and feedback. Compared to the lotus, itís fat truck, and compared to the M3 its fun but crude. While it is great fun to drive, I say that the M3 would be my pick because for me the Cayman is an unsatisfactory middle ground between a Lotus and an M3. If I want a sports car, the lotus gets it. If I want a ďrealĒ car, the M3 gets it.

Then there was the Lexus IS-F. What a beast! This car is a classic hot rod. It has enormous power, but it also shows signs of having been souped up as an after thought. The car feels like this chassis wasnít meant for this engine. Its kinda like a latter day 1989 SHO. The car makes an phenomenal noise, a deep throated blare thatís Detroit all the way. Its shockingly fast too. Tip into the throttle and the car roars from deep within its guts and it accelerates every bit as awesomely as the noise suggests it would. The handling is a mixed bag. The car is obviously very heavy and feels it when getting chucked around, but as long as you are very respectful of the throttle, the car goes exactly where you point it. You are always aware of the huge mass youíre throwing around, but as long as you respect that, the carís handling is entirely free of vices and is quite obedient to the helm. It may not seem like much, but it can cover ground very fast. It will just give you sweaty palms because of youíll be walking on eggshells. Thatís what hustling the car feels like because of how large the engineís power and the carís weight loom over the driver. This is the least driver oriented car of the lot, but it tries very hard to make the best of the cards its been dealt. However, unlike the m3 and the cayman, it always feels like a souped up hotrod, and not an innately competent performance car.

The most impressive and awesome aspect of this car is the unbelievable ease and intuitiveness with which the car hangs its tail out while making it as easy for the driver to correct for it, as an average joe might correct for understeer. As long as you didnít act like a lout with the throttle, that is.

The final car is the RX8. These are not really fair to talk about. They were set up for the skid pad with excessive rear toe out and smaller tyres fitted at the back than at the front. But none the less, this was my second favorite car of the day after m3, largely because of its superb steering feel and because of the fluid chassis behavior.

And thatís the lot. These are just my opinions, in a specific set of circumstances, made in the context of my preferences, tastes, perceptions, and skill level. No doubt many will not agree, but thatís OK because I am only offering my perceptions, not any ultimate truth.
Harbir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th June 2010, 18:33   #2
Distinguished - BHPian
 
FlyingSpur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 3,937
Thanked: 1,331 Times
Default

Nice write-up Harbir. Any pictures? You drove quite a diverse set of cars, especially an RX-8.
FlyingSpur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th June 2010, 19:30   #3
BHPian
 
Harbir's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Delhi
Posts: 909
Thanked: 968 Times
Default

thanks! here are some pictures. there are more but I can't access the storage site through the proxy at my office. I'll try to post them from home later.
Attached Thumbnails
Drove 997, Cayman, M3, IS-F and RX8 at a Skip Barber event-cayman.jpg  

Drove 997, Cayman, M3, IS-F and RX8 at a Skip Barber event-elise-sc.jpg  

Drove 997, Cayman, M3, IS-F and RX8 at a Skip Barber event-all-cars.jpg  

Drove 997, Cayman, M3, IS-F and RX8 at a Skip Barber event-elise-drift.jpg  

Drove 997, Cayman, M3, IS-F and RX8 at a Skip Barber event-lexus.jpg  

Attached Images
    
Attached Images
File Type: bmp 911a.bmp (882.4 KB, 160 views)
File Type: bmp m3a.bmp (787.8 KB, 163 views)

Last edited by Harbir : 17th June 2010 at 19:48.
Harbir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th June 2010, 20:27   #4
Senior - BHPian
 
theragingbull's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 2,602
Thanked: 611 Times
Default

Lucky you, Harbir! Nice write-up and pictures. I guess you must have enjoyed the M3 the most there. But I'm shocked to hear that the 911 Carrera was the most disappointing of the lot!
theragingbull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th June 2010, 20:50   #5
BHPian
 
Harbir's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Delhi
Posts: 909
Thanked: 968 Times
Default

that was the pretty universal opinion. In fact, except amongst die hard 911 fans, its become pretty standard opinion than the Boxster/cayman are better handling cars than the 911. As far as the M3 goes, I am not alone. I found my opinions to virtually mirror a couple of car and driver comparison tests that put the M3 above the 911.

However, 911 fans took great umbrage to my saying so. so essentially the enthusiast world splits in two: Those who think its awesome and those who don't.

From my perspective, the lotuses remain by far the purest, most exquisite handling cars in my experience, quite peerless on that front. But they have some significant limitations when you are looking for "real" cars, so if you need to compromise for the sake of usability, Sporting BMWs and Mazdas are the cream of the crop.

I think there are "schools" of thought on what constitutes good feel, good handling, good steering. I subscribe to the Lotus, Mazda and BMW schools (which are all different from each other), and I do not subscribe to the Corvette, Mitsubishi Evo, porsche schools, which do have their own legions of fans.

so its not necessarily an absolute judgment that all must comply with. its more about what I like.
Harbir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th June 2010, 21:31   #6
Distinguished - BHPian
 
FlyingSpur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 3,937
Thanked: 1,331 Times
Default

Great pictures... I have to admit that the Lotus wears the best paint of 'em all.
FlyingSpur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th June 2010, 03:35   #7
BHPian
 
Harbir's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Delhi
Posts: 909
Thanked: 968 Times
Default

I liked the paint scheme on mine
Attached Thumbnails
Drove 997, Cayman, M3, IS-F and RX8 at a Skip Barber event-harbir-nain-lotus-elise-2.jpg  

Harbir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th June 2010, 10:35   #8
Team-BHP Support
 
suhaas307's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 8,055
Thanked: 6,602 Times
Default

Good write-up and nice pictures!

I'm surprised that the 911 disappointed you. I haven't driven one around a track but from what I've heard, it's one of the best handling cars in the world. It might be a tricky car, but in the right hands, it's as sharp as a surgeons scalpel. Unfortunately, very few people can exploit the potential of a 911. It isn't the easiest car to thrash around a track. Unlike the M3 which is quite forgiving in nature.

P.S. The yellow 997 Carrera in one of the pictures seems odd for some reason. It looks like it's wearing the 996's wheels!
suhaas307 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th June 2010, 10:47   #9
Senior - BHPian
 
theragingbull's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 2,602
Thanked: 611 Times
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbir View Post
I liked the paint scheme on mine
It's beautiful! Love the color combo. You've got an awesome car! Couldn't you take yours to the track?

Last edited by theragingbull : 18th June 2010 at 10:48.
theragingbull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th June 2010, 16:45   #10
BHPian
 
Harbir's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Delhi
Posts: 909
Thanked: 968 Times
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by suhaas307 View Post
Good write-up and nice pictures!

I'm surprised that the 911 disappointed you. I haven't driven one around a track but from what I've heard, it's one of the best handling cars in the world. It might be a tricky car, but in the right hands, it's as sharp as a surgeons scalpel. Unfortunately, very few people can exploit the potential of a 911. It isn't the easiest car to thrash around a track. Unlike the M3 which is quite forgiving in nature.

people romanticize the 911 like that, but its no longer true. the car has all kinds of electronics to keep the car safe. it used to be a tricky car to drive 20+ years ago, but not any more. My objection to it is mostly that I can feel strange behaviour in the steering and suspension that is there in order to keep the rear end of the car at the rear.

Some magazine recently said of the 911 that it was a bad idea brilliantly executed. I think that may be true. The brilliant execution doesn't hide the bad idea, and doesn't hide that its trying to compensate for the bad idea.


read this. its pretty much in line with my own experience. 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera vs. 2009 BMW M3 - Comparison Tests

of course I am a very ordinary driver, and I cannot explain how, if I am right, tens of thousands of skilled drivers and british magazine editors could speak of the 911 as if it were the end of the world. Just recently, I was looking at a performance car of the year issue of CAR from 2000, won by the 996 Turbo, and I was convinced that my next car had to be a 996 Turbo. but rereading it, I see absolutely not the remotest acknowledgment of anything I felt. yet there is C/D, just as qualified as CAR, saying exactly what I felt (in both the comparison test link I gave above, and another one in which the M3 pipped the 997 Turbo).


Car and Driver also said recently: "while it’s sacrilege to Porschephiles, the Cayman’s mid-engine powertrain configuration beats the 911’s full diaper when it comes to handling" which is what I experienced as well.

but perceptions do vary. a friend of mine, his dad has a 911 C4S and another friend has a 911 GT3 RS and they both fundamentally disagree with the 911 skeptics.

In the end I think its not about the car being usable by only a select few, but rather that only a select few people find its foibles so attractive that they place the car above the best of the rest.

Last edited by Harbir : 18th June 2010 at 16:52.
Harbir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th June 2010, 16:51   #11
BHPian
 
Harbir's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Delhi
Posts: 909
Thanked: 968 Times
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by theragingbull View Post
It's beautiful! Love the color combo. You've got an awesome car! Couldn't you take yours to the track?
Actually I don't have it anymore, I sold it a couple of months ago. but yes, I could take it to the track and I did do that a lot because the car was far too punishing for road use (its a track special built by lotus from the standard elise, only 50 were made, mine was #47. nothing I've ever driven even comes close to that car. even the regular elise feels soft and dull in comparison)

anyway, I described some track expereinces and posted some pictures on team-bhp. the pictures are in this post and in this one.

the whole thread:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/intern...l-raceway.html (HPDE at Virginia International Raceway)

Last edited by Harbir : 18th June 2010 at 16:53.
Harbir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th June 2010, 17:05   #12
Senior - BHPian
 
Rahulkool's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Chennai
Posts: 1,265
Thanked: 568 Times
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbir View Post
people romanticize the 911 like that, but its no longer true. the car has all kinds of electronics to keep the car safe. it used to be a tricky car to drive 20+ years ago, but not any more. My objection to it is mostly that I can feel strange behaviour in the steering and suspension that is there in order to keep the rear end of the car at the rear.

Some magazine recently said of the 911 that it was a bad idea brilliantly executed. I think that may be true. The brilliant execution doesn't hide the bad idea, and doesn't hide that its trying to compensate for the bad idea.


read this. its pretty much in line with my own experience. 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera vs. 2009 BMW M3 - Comparison Tests

of course I am a very ordinary driver, and I cannot explain how, if I am right, tens of thousands of skilled drivers and british magazine editors could speak of the 911 as if it were the end of the world. Just recently, I was looking at a performance car of the year issue of CAR from 2000, won by the 996 Turbo, and I was convinced that my next car had to be a 996 Turbo. but rereading it, I see absolutely not the remotest acknowledgment of anything I felt. yet there is C/D, just as qualified as CAR, saying exactly what I felt (in both the comparison test link I gave above, and another one in which the M3 pipped the 997 Turbo).


Car and Driver also said recently: "while itís sacrilege to Porschephiles, the Caymanís mid-engine powertrain configuration beats the 911ís full diaper when it comes to handling" which is what I experienced as well.

but perceptions do vary. a friend of mine, his dad has a 911 C4S and another friend has a 911 GT3 RS and they both fundamentally disagree with the 911 skeptics.

In the end I think its not about the car being usable by only a select few, but rather that only a select few people find its foibles so attractive that they place the car above the best of the rest.
You have said it so brilliantly
Rahulkool is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th June 2010, 17:59   #13
Team-BHP Support
 
suhaas307's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 8,055
Thanked: 6,602 Times
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbir View Post
people romanticize the 911 like that, but its no longer true. the car has all kinds of electronics to keep the car safe. it used to be a tricky car to drive 20+ years ago, but not any more. My objection to it is mostly that I can feel strange behaviour in the steering and suspension that is there in order to keep the rear end of the car at the rear.

Some magazine recently said of the 911 that it was a bad idea brilliantly executed. I think that may be true. The brilliant execution doesn't hide the bad idea, and doesn't hide that its trying to compensate for the bad idea.


read this. its pretty much in line with my own experience. 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera vs. 2009 BMW M3 - Comparison Tests

of course I am a very ordinary driver, and I cannot explain how, if I am right, tens of thousands of skilled drivers and british magazine editors could speak of the 911 as if it were the end of the world. Just recently, I was looking at a performance car of the year issue of CAR from 2000, won by the 996 Turbo, and I was convinced that my next car had to be a 996 Turbo. but rereading it, I see absolutely not the remotest acknowledgment of anything I felt. yet there is C/D, just as qualified as CAR, saying exactly what I felt (in both the comparison test link I gave above, and another one in which the M3 pipped the 997 Turbo).


Car and Driver also said recently: "while it’s sacrilege to Porschephiles, the Cayman’s mid-engine powertrain configuration beats the 911’s full diaper when it comes to handling" which is what I experienced as well.

but perceptions do vary. a friend of mine, his dad has a 911 C4S and another friend has a 911 GT3 RS and they both fundamentally disagree with the 911 skeptics.

In the end I think its not about the car being usable by only a select few, but rather that only a select few people find its foibles so attractive that they place the car above the best of the rest.
You nailed it with that last line my friend!

Anyway, it is true that Porsche now repackages the 911 as a safer, more drivable car on a daily basis. After the introduction of PASM and PCCB, one can exploit the car's potential especially, the less experienced drivers.

The earlier 911s (pre 996) were hairy to drive largely due to their tail-happy characteristics. Lift off the throttle mid-corner and you bite off more than you can chew. It wags out so much that even opposite lock will not save you from the tree that you're headed toward.

The newer ones (996, 997) can be thrashed around a corner without worrying about that tree. However, I stick to my point here. Few drivers can exploit the full potential of the 911. On the other hand, the M3 can be driven fast and to the limit by 90% of the crowd out there. The 911 still isn't like that. It still requires an experienced hand to see it through the corner.

The Cayman's brilliant engine layout and band-on wright distribution gives it the ability to handle better than almost anything else sold in the market today. That said, the only reason Porsche hasn't given it more power is because they maintain that the 911 is the Porsche flagship and must be faster than any other sports car they produce.

Quote:
My objection to it is mostly that I can feel strange behaviour in the steering and suspension that is there in order to keep the rear end of the car at the rear.
This behaviour incidentally gives the 911 the character that sets it apart from the rest of the sports cars. May I add that the front end feels a little jittery and off even in the 997 Carrera/Turbo. However, Porsche has eliminated this characteristic behaviour from the brand new 997 Mark II (essentially a facelift) and it has gone back to being a normal sports car.

EDIT: P.S. You've got a brilliant Lotus Elise!? Where is the rear spoiler though??

Last edited by suhaas307 : 18th June 2010 at 18:14.
suhaas307 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th June 2010, 18:21   #14
BHPian
 
Harbir's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Delhi
Posts: 909
Thanked: 968 Times
Default

I sold it a couple of months ago. However, the car's ducktail spoiler is visible in these pictures.


http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/980031-post40.html

the Supercharged model (the orange one in the skip barber pics) has an add on spoiler on top the duck tail. Its a cosmetic add on.

Last edited by Harbir : 18th June 2010 at 18:29.
Harbir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th June 2010, 03:47   #15
Team-BHP Support
 
aah78's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: NYC / BOM
Posts: 3,625
Thanked: 1,627 Times
Arrow

Missed this thread!

Great experience! Liked the fact that there were a number of cars to choose between.

They have something similar involving only the MX-5 / Miata Cup cars, wouldn't mind trying one of those out sometime - wonder what the rates are!!?
aah78 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
A barber who owns a Rolls Royce Ghost and a fleet of other cars Pancham Shifting gears 19 3rd March 2017 08:50
Mazda RX8 in Mumbai. fx45 Super-Cars & Imports in India 93 3rd June 2014 01:49
Pics: The Official Porsche 997 Carrera thread! Discuss 997 non-turbo models here. RJK Super-Cars & Imports in India 117 22nd January 2013 18:22
Anti-Skip CD/MP3 Player Rishi In-Car Entertainment 24 18th November 2005 11:58


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 17:56.

Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks