Subaru BRZ Coupe

 

First of all, let’s solve the mystery of the name. BRZ stands for Boxer, Rear-wheel drive, Zenith. That’s pretty clear isn’t it? Well, the first two parts are, and as for Zenith, that’s just Subaru’s way of saying this is the best it can do. Personally I think Subaru Zenith has more of a ring to it than Subaru BRZ which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly a dynamic name.

And this is a shame for a rather dynamic car. That’s right, we’ve finally, finally driven the BRZ. We had to go all the way to Subaru’s test track, two hours north of Tokyo to do so, but it was worth it.

So where to start? As suspected, both Subaru and Toyota have had specific tasks within this joint project. Toyota has been responsible for the design (certainly not the most dynamic aspect of the BRZ), and has lent its direct injection technology to the engine. Subaru has done pretty much everything else. Talking to the engineers you get the sense this is very much Subaru’s car– the first development prototype was a cut n’ shut Legacy, the next an Impreza. This is good news, as we know Subaru can build great cars. The BRZ clearly has potential.

It’s a brand new car from scratch – a rare thing these days. The engine is mounted so low, Subaru believes it has a lower centre of gravity than a Ferrari458. And a low engine is not only good for handling, but also means the drivercan be sat low, yet still see over the bonnet. It’s snug inside, the design largelyfunctional, the colour scheme mostly grey. It’s no Audi TT, but the impression is good because you’ve dropped so low into a wrap-around seat and your hands are clasping a small, feelsome wheel.

The driver’s seat is definitely the place to be. Subaru boasts that this is the world’s smallest four seat rear-wheel drive coupe, so you can guess what that means for those travelling in the back. And the boot seems to be a complete afterthought.

 

 

Toyota Camry

 

The 2012 Toyota Camry ranks 15 out of 19 Affordable Midsize Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 14 published reviews and test drives of the Toyota Camry, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

Auto reviewers think Toyota made the best-selling Camry even better with a redesign for 2012 thanks to its excellent fuel economy, refined performance and high-quality interior.

Test drivers like the redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry for its roomy interior, best-in-class non-hybrid, non-diesel fuel economy, relaxed ride and smooth engines. With the changes for 2012, most reviewers expect the Camry to retain its position as one of the best-selling cars in the class.

The 2012 Camry gives shoppers a good mix of comfort, engine power, interior space and technology. They’re glad Toyota made improvements where necessary and left other areas that didn’t need tweaking unchanged. Motor Trend says, "Besides being a best-seller, it has arguably been the best car in its class for 20 years, so improvements tend to be incremental, not phenomenal, like those of the '08 Chevy Malibu, '10 Ford Fusion, '11 Hyundai Sonata, and possibly the '12 VW Passat."

The main gripe reviewers have with the 2012 Toyota Camry is its redesigned exterior. Although they think it looks better than the 2011 model, they still note that the Camry has a conservative, bland look. While some say they wish Toyota would make the Camry a little more edgy, they understand that bold styling might limit the Camry’s mass-market appeal.

If you’re shopping for a roomy, capable, fuel-efficient midsize sedan, the 2012 Camry is definitely worth a test drive.

 

 


 

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

 

As the name implies, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X is the 10th evolution of the Japanese automaker's high-performance sedan, dating back to its inception in 1992. If extreme performance at the cost of comfort and economy don't sound good to you, consider the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart.

The Evo X is offered in two trim levels. The entry-level GSR is offered with a five-speed manual transmission, Recaro Sport seats and Enkei wheels, as well as optional spoiler, HID headlights, and upgraded sound system.

The upgraded MR includes Mitsubishi's new Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST), Eibach springs and Bilstein shock absorbers, lightweightbrake rotors and BBS forged-alloy wheels, and extra sound insulation, as well as optional navigation, upgraded audio with Sirius Satellite reception, and leather seats.

Both trim levels feature the new all-aluminum 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder MIVEC4 motor producing 295 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque and Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) drive system.

The S-AWC system, which regulates torque and braking at each wheel includes a bevy of acronyms: ASC (Active Stability Control), ACD (Active Center Differential), AYC (Active Yaw Control) and Sport ABS, an ABS system designed for aggressive driving. The biggest difference over the outgoing car is the large number of yaw sensors included in the system, all designed to keep the Evo X on its intended path. The S-AWC system can be set for three different road surfaces: tarmac (standard), ice and gravel.

The Twin Clutch SST on the MR appears similar to Audi/VW's DSG system; even and odd gears are on separate clutches for rapid-fire shifting and no torque loss between gears. Shifting of the TC-SST is controlled by alloy paddles on the steering wheel orthe gear shift lever when in manual mode, and by the engine computer in automatic mode. The system has three modes: Normal, Sport and S-Sport, the latter providing the most aggressive, fast shifts.

Safety measures include the Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) unibody system to disperse energy in front and side impact collisions and protect the fuel system from rear impact, and front and side impact air bags, plus a driver's knee air bag.

Key competitors

Without a doubt, the long-term rival Subaru Impreza WRX STI Hatchback is the biggest competitor for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, but the Mazda Mazdaspeed3 and new Ford Focus ST are strong competitors as well, although they forgo all-wheel drive for front-wheel drive.

 

 

 

 
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