Ford recently invited us down to their Ford Performance Technical Center, located in the heart of NASCAR country in North Carolina. The purpose? To see firsthand how they are able to use the same research and development technology for their racecars to speed up development of consumer vehicles, while reducing engineering costs in the process.
Walking into the 33,000-square-foot facility, you’re immediately drawn to the various racecars (NASCAR, rally, road racing, etc) on display. But the real magic happens in the two simulator rooms, which feature a 26-foot wraparound screen and a “buck” (a cockpit that recreates the interior of various cars) in the center of the room. When the sim goes live, the room goes dark, and the driver and engineers are able to fine-tune cars based on their experience on the track.
On the day we’re visiting, NASCAR’s David Ragan was getting ready for the Charlotte race by taking a few virtual laps around the infamous “Roval” configuration, after which he stopped and relayed some feedback to engineers, who made the necessary changes to his car before sending him back onto the track. Once he finds the optimum setup, his team will be able to make those changes on his actual race car for the upcoming weekend.
Later on, we saw him crash into the tire wall. “Maybe the other set-up was better,” he told the control room. But that illustrates what a valuable tool the simulator is, as had this happened on the actual track during their practice, he would have been likely down for the count, with the car damaged and unable to race.
But this technology isn’t just for racecars. There’s a second simulator here that is used to test pre-production vehicles. In fact, when the Ford GT was being developed, it was put through hundreds of hours of virtual testing before ever rolling onto actual pavement. Imagine being able to drive Nürburgring as much as you want, fine-tuning the car along the way to get the best possible performance, but without the expense of shipping a car, parts, and teams of people over there, not to mention the actual track time.
We had a chance to “drive” one of the simulators, taking out a Mustang GT350 for a spin on one of Ford’s test tracks (which I actually drove for real years ago). Hopping into the buck, I was greeted by the familiar Mustang cockpit, complete with a working gauge cluster, steering wheel, and 6-speed shifter, and all three pedals. I eased onto the track, got my bearings, and then drove the course as if I were in a real car.
My only complaint is that the sensation of speed still isn’t completely there, but otherwise the experience was pretty spot on, and the car behaved exactly like the real thing. In fact, I gave the car a little too much gas going into the corner, and the back end got away from me, with the car going airborne and crashing, a cloud of smoke coming from my virtual hood. Glad this was a simulation and not a multi-million dollar prototype that I was driving!
Speaking with one of the engineers there, I learned that he had logged hundreds of hours with the upcoming Mustang GT500.. on the simulator. He’s been able to test out various aero kits, a far quicker and cheaper process than building and swapping them out physically. Eventually, these changes will be tested in the real world, but the simulator is pretty spot on. Comparing the simulator lap times to real on-track times – “Our lap times at Virginia International Raceway, where we go quite often, are quite comparable.” ‘Nuff said.
Now lest you think this only applies to sports cars and the likes, the simulator can be also used for something as mainstream as the Ford Edge, Fusion or F-150. Again, the goal here is saving time and reducing engineering costs.
Along with the simulator, Ford is using several other advanced tools to help speed production development times and cut costs. These include a new dynamic simulator, computational fluid dynamics for aerodynamic testing and virtual manufacturing. Together, these tools are migrating from the super-high-tech, low-volume racing development world to Ford’s global product development system.
It’s really amazing to see how we have come from the old days of clay modeling to renderings on computers, and now to simulators and such that are speeding up the process even more so. In fact, the 2019 Ford Mustang NHRA Funny Car program will have no prototype tested before the racing body is built, a testament to the team’s confidence in its abilities.
Thanks to Ford for giving us a peek behind the curtains, and to see how the company is using the knowledge they’ve gained from racing to make their mainstream vehicles better.
Which Genesis G70 Should You Get, The 2.0T Or The 3.3T?
The all-new 2019 Genesis G70 is the company’s first attempt at taking on the midsized luxury sports sedan segment, and in particular face off against the BMW 3-Series. We’ve been eagerly awaiting a chance to drive this vehicle since it was unveiled at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, and a few weeks ago at IMPA Test Days, we finally got our chance to do so.
We were fortunate enough to sample both the affordable G70 2.0T (which is powered by a 252-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder) and the more powerful G70 3.3T (powered by a 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V-6) variants.
Both of these may be trim levels of the same car, but which one drives better? Here are our non-instrumented, seat-of-the-pants findings:
Acceleration Winner: 2019 Genesis G70 3.3T
This one should be fairly obvious, but when it comes to outright acceleration, the base model 2.0T doesn’t stand a chance against the 365-horsepower 3.3T, which rockets from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds. Although the 2.0T puts out a more than adequate 252 horsepower, the 3.3T’s acceleration is just nuclear, pinning you to the back of your seat.
In normal driving, the 2.0T feels perfectly fine, but crest 4,000rpm and it quickly runs out of steam. Luckily, that’s not the case in the more powerful G70. The twin-turbo V6 is a missile, producing meaningful thrust all the way to redline.
Handling Winner: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T
Although the 3.3T is much faster, the lighter 2.0T just feels better to drive. The 3.3T we tested had Hyundai’s H-Trac all-wheel-drive system, which coupled with the heavier V6 made the front end feel much heavier than the RWD 2.0T.
The 2.0T is more fun to whip into turns and exercise the superb chassis, while the 3.3T is more of a point and shoot affair. Sure, they share the same platform , but adding a heavier engine and AWD really changes the character of a car and the general sensations of driving.
Value Winner: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T
With a starting price of only $34,900, the base Genesis G70 2.0T undercuts the more expensive G70 3.3T H-Trac by over $10,000 as the 3.3T AWD starts at $45,750. Between the base 2.0T and the 3.3T H-Trac we drove, it was clear that the base model is anything but base. This little premium sedan is hugely impressive at the $35K mark. The interior is sophisticated and well appointed, while the exterior’s taught body and sleek styling cocoons a well-sorted chassis.
Other Genesis G70 trim levels have a lot to offer as well. Forego AWD, and the most affordable 3.3T can be had for only $43,750. For those of you looking to row your own gears, there’s even a 6-speed manual option (for the 2.0T only) that will set you back $37,900 and comes with a limited slip differential and other performance-oriented goodies. If you want all the bells and whistles, a fully loaded 3.3T Dynamic Edition clocks in at $52,250.
Overall, we think Genesis really knocked it out of the park with the new G70 sedan, delivering a dynamic vehicle that’s a ton of fun to drive. If you’re in the market for a luxury sports sedan, you owe it to yourself to test drive one today.
Pricing For The 2019 Hyundai Veloster N Released, Starting At $26,900
While the previous generation Hyundai Veloster was nothing to write home about, the all-new 2019 Veloster is an absolute blast to drive, with plenty of power and great handling dynamics. I recently took the Veloster Turbo out on some twisties, and I couldn’t wipe that grin off of my face, that’s how much fun I was having with the car.
But for those who want to dial up the excitement to 11, the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N takes it to a whole other level, raising the car’s horsepower from 201HP to 250HP (or 275HP with the Performance Package), along with a variety of chassis, tuning and other upgrades that are sure to impress even the most hardcore driving enthusiasts.
Hyundai has been teasing us about the 2019 Veloster N for some time now, and we’ve all been speculating about how much this hot hatch would ultimately cost. And yesterday, we finally got our answer. As it turns out, it’s considerably less than we had expect.
Pricing for the 2019 Veloster N starts at $26,900, with the Performance Package model coming in at $29,000. That’s a LOT of bang for the buck, and it should put the other hot hatches out there on notice. (We’re talking to you, GTI, WRX and Civic Type R)
To me, spending the extra $2,100 for the Performance Package is a no brainer, as it gives you 275 horsepower (versus 250 horsepower on the standard Veloster N), N corner carving limited slip differential, a variable exhaust valve system, 19″ wheels with Pirelli P Zero summer tires, and better brakes front and rear.
One thing to note about the Veloster N – It’s only offered with a manual transmission. While I can appreciate their reasoning for doing this, it does limit the number of potential buyers, as many enthusiasts don’t know how (or don’t want) to drive a stick.
The 2019 Hyundai Veloster N will begin arriving at dealerships in December.
7 Ways To Improve Your Car’s Perfomance
When I drove a 1996 Mustang GT, I thought it was the fastest thing on the road, with a 4.6L V8 that put out 215HP, and a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds. But by today’s standard, that’s considered rather slow, with many family sedans (like the 2018 Camry V6) packing 250-300 horsepower, and sports cars putting out 400+ HP. Pretty crazy stuff, right?
So what can you do if you own an older sports car and you want to give it a little performance boost? Or go all out and turn it into a race car? From the laws of speed and motion, here are 7 surefire methods you can use to improve your car’s performance:
1) Aerodynamics and Weight:
Aerodynamics deal with how bodies move through the air. Physicist Sir Isaac Newton proved that the force executed by any car depends on its mass and acceleration. The higher the mass, the higher the force. This eventually increases the drag. Something like an aero kit can help your car slip through the air faster.
You can cut a car’s weight by removing heavy mechanical components. The components may include your air conditioning, heater, speakers, or even your backseats. You can also remake the interior using lighter materials, like replacing your glass windows with polycarbonates, which are strong, tough and lightweight.
2) Bushing Replacements
Most cars leave the factory with rubber bushings in their suspension. They are cheap, absorb shocks and vibrations, let the suspension turn freely, and won’t bind easily. The downside is that they compromise your car’s handling somewhat. But if you are willing to give up a little civility in the name of better handling, replacing your bushings with polyurethane ones will give you more responsive handling and acceleration.
Upgraded bushings are a quick and easy way to breathe some new life into your old ride.
3) Check Your Air Filter
Your car’s air filter is it’s first line of defense against contaminants. But it can get dirty over time, and many people neglect to replace them when they should. This can negatively affect your car’s performance, as it struggles to pull in air. So if your a mechanic recommends that you replace the car’s air filter, change it.
There are a number of aftermarket air filters (like K&N) that reportedly deliver improved air flow, which in turn leads to more power. These require more maintenance (periodically oiling your filter, making sure not to foul your MAF sensor), but it’s just another way to squeeze a few more horsepower out of your ride.
4) Use High Quality Components
You know that saying “You get what you pay for”? Well it’s true. When you’re working on your car, you want to use high-quality components from reputable sources, not some random part from eBay that you bought because it was cheap. Stick with an established brand that has a long history in the business for that piece of mind.
The same holds true for aftermarket parts. If you’re upgrading your older Porsche, you want to stick with a name like Fabspeed, who offer Porsche 996 performance upgrades that will make your car feel stronger than ever, along with a warranty on their parts.
5) Install A Supercharger
By compressing air supplied to a car’s engine, superchargers give room for more oxygen to enter the engine. In reality, a car can have a lot of fuel. But without enough oxygen, the car will hardly accelerate.
Installing a supercharger will give you an immediate boost to your vehicle’s performance, with more horsepower both off-the-line and during acceleration. It’s a great way to take your car’s performance to the next level, though it’s a costly (and complicated) upgrade.
6) Enhance Performance Using Computers
Unlike classic cars, which you could tune with a basic set of tools, today’s cars are increasingly complicated, relying on computers for things like fuel delivery, spark, and more. What’s more, cars are tuned from the factory rather conservatively, and the car’s ECU can be reprogrammed to give you better performance.
There are plenty of resources where you can learn to program your car’s engine management program. Or you can go to a professional tuner, who can put your car on a dyno and give you a custom tune. These prove especially beneficial if you’ve got a turbocharged car.
7) Install Quality Tires
What connects your car to the road? Tires. Most mechanics would agree that tires are in fact the most important part of your car. If you’re looking for faster acceleration, better braking, and overall stability, you should invest in a quality set of Ultra High Performance tires, which will dramatically change the demeanor of your car.
You should always make sure that the tires are properly inflated as well, as too much or too little air pressure can dramatically affect a car’s performance.
As you can see, speed isn’t the only factor that defines a high-performance car. Hopefully these tips will help you turn your tired ride into a high-performance car that’s able to hang with the competition on the streets.