There’s no doubt that the Toyota C-HR is a great little crossover, with aggressive styling that helps the CUV stand out from the competition. Sadly, the C-HR is all show and little go, with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 144 HP and 139 lb-ft of torque, and a CVT transmission sending power to the front wheels.
We had a chance to drive the C-HR last year when it first came out, and I praised the crossover for it’s quick steering, tight handling, and lack of body roll, but lamenting that “this excellent chassis doesn’t get utilized to it’s fullest,” and that more power would take the C-HR to a whole other level.
Clearly I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, as Toyota unveiled a 600-horsepower Toyota C-HR R-Tuned concept at SEMA last year, a racetrack-tuned crossover that showed the public what the C-HR was capable of from a tuning perspective, delivering supercar performance for a fraction of the price. The car was the talk of SEMA, and I could only imagine what it was like on the track.
So you can only imagine my excitement when Toyota invited me out to Willow Springs (a track that has long been on my automotive bucket list) to experience the C-HR R-Tuned firsthand on the very same track where it set a scorching 1:25.22 lap time last fall, beating out supercars like the Ferrari 488 GTB, Porsche 911 GT3, Nissan GT-R NISMO, and McLaren 650 S Spyder, to name a few.
After we arrived at the track and signed the necessary waivers, we got to learn more about the Toyota C-HR R-Tuned and what makes it the exotic-slaying track monster that it is. And what we learned is that while this car is still four-cylinder-powered and retains its front-wheel-drive setup, this CUV is far from stock.
Dan Gardner and his team at DG-Spec replaced the stock 2.0-liter engine with a 2.4-liter Toyota 2AZ-FE with Dezod-supplied forged internals, a titanium and Inconel valve-train, and a custom DG-Spec Garrett turbo system that pushes power output beyond 600 horsepower at approximately 23 psi of boost.
The stock CVT was tossed in favor of a five-speed Toyota E-Series manual transmission, with an OS Giken limited-slip differential. Brembo racing brakes with 14″ rotors and 4-piston billet aluminum monobloc calipers up front, and remote-reservoir, triple-adjustable DG-Spec Motion Control Suspension motorsports dampers help in the braking and handling department, along with a host of other custom, go-fast goodies.
Finally, to help augment the mechanical grip made by the massive 275/35R18 Toyo Proxes RR tires, an air-dam, side dams, adjustable front splitter and imposing rear wing with gurney flap were grafted into the body to endow this C-HR with an honest 300 pounds of downforce at triple-digit speeds.
All in all, the C-HR R-Tuned is a pretty bad-ass machine, and honestly photos don’t do the car justice, as it looks even more menacing in person. This was going to be one fun day!
Before hopping into the C-HR R-Tuned, we got the chance to drive some stock C-HRs around The Streets of Willow Springs, with some pro drivers riding shotgun to show us the optimal lines and give us pointers along the way. Surprisingly, the C-HR proved to be very capable on track, even though it could have used an extra 60HP or so to really dial up the excitement.
Later on, I was able to convince them to let me take the C-HR out on Big Willow, and holy crap that was a ton of fun! This course can get you into a lot of trouble if you’re not careful, but the C-HR was perfectly suited for it, and I ran along the back straightaway with my foot to the floor, hitting about 105mph before braking for that long sweeper at the end.
Seriously, who knew a stock CUV could be so much fun at the track?!
Between sessions, I watched as the other group took turns in the C-HR R-Tuned, which they pitted against a brand new Nissan GT-R. As you can imagine, the poor GT-R didn’t stand a chance, with the C-HR R-Tuned passing it halfway through the first lap and never looking back.
After lunch, it was finally my turn to hop into the 600HP C-HR R-Tuned and race it around Big Willow. Sadly, on the previous lap the car started smoking and Dan had to nurse it back to the garage. Turns out a liquid-filled bearing on the C-HR overheated, causing it to throw a belt.
While the timing couldn’t have been worse for me, it’s a race car, and these things happen, it’s just the name of the game. The DG-Spec mechanics worked feverishly to get the car patched up, and while I wasn’t able to do a full lap, I was able to experience the C-HR’s explosive acceleration (0-60 in 2.9s) and braking (1.2g of braking force) before shutting it down and calling it a night.
Overall, I could not have been more impressed with the Toyota C-HR. It’s a well-handling, practical crossover that stands out from the crowd with it’s edgy styling. And as we saw with the R-Tuned version, the platform is ready for whatever modifications you decide to throw its way.
So who’s ready to buck convention and build a tricked out, souped up Toyota C-HR “hot hatch” like no other?
The 405HP BMW M2 Competition Really Is The Ultimate Driving Machine
When BMW first introduced the M2, it was a clear indication that they had not forgotten about purists like me who wanted a small, lightweight, fun-to-drive sports car that could hang with the big boys come track day. And that it did.
But now they’ve taken things up a notch with the first-ever 2019 BMW M2 Competition.
As the name suggests, the M2 Competition is playing for keeps, with a new engine lifted from the M3/M4, a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter straight-six making 405 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque.
For those of you keeping score, that’s 40 horses and 63 more lb-ft than the outgoing M2, and it’s good enough for a 0-60 time of four seconds flat and a top speed of 174 mph.
Naturally, there’s a host of chassis improvements to make the most of the added power, with lots of raiding from the M3/M4 parts bin, along with new M Sport seats, larger M Sport brakes front and rear, a new dual exhaust system, and bigger kidney grilles up front (painted black).
Overall, it’s a pretty impressive update to a vehicle that was perfectly fine as it sat, taking this lightweight track beast and dialing it up to 11. Porsche owners had better watch out!
No word on pricing just yet, but it sounds like it will be worth every penny that they’re asking. And if it turns out to be too rich for your blood, you can always pick up one of the many used M2’s that will surely be hitting the market once the M2 Competition comes out..
Speaking of which, anyone wanna buy a kidney? 🙂
What do you think of the BMW M2 Competition?
What Do You Think Of The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro And Its Bold New Styling?
This morning, Chevrolet surprised all of us with the unveiling of the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro, which feature distinctive designs, new available technologies and the first-ever Turbo 1LE.
We’re not really sure why Chevrolet chose not to unveil the new Camaro at the 2018 New York Auto Show a few weeks ago, given the sheer number of consumers and media who come out to the show. But they must have had their reasons..
In any event, we got our first glimpse of the 2019 Camaro this morning, and it’s… different.
According to Chevy, the 2019 Camaro’s updated designs “are not only striking but also help to improve performance. For instance, the grille details and hood and fascia vents were designed for optimized air flow, either to cool components or help minimize drag or lift.”
Maybe so, but at what cost? The 2018 Camaro was a great looking ride. But the new Camaro has already got the Internet buzzing, and not in a good way. The front-end treatment is a bit much, and it’s even worse in SS trim, where the grille is mostly blacked out.
Still, if you can look past the looks, there’s a lot to like about the new Camaro. The SS model’s 6.2-liter LT1 V8 can now be paired with a 10-speed automatic, complete with custom launch control and line-lock. This transmission, co-developed with Ford, replaces the eight-speed automatic, and until now it’s only been available in the ZL1 model.
In addition, a new Turbo 1LE joins the V6 1LE, SS 1LE and ZL1 1LE to round out Camaro’s line of 1LE track stars. The 275 HP Camaro Turbo 1LE comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission and a tailored chassis package that includes a performance suspension with larger diameter front and rear stabilizer bars, specifically tuned dampers, stiffer rear cradle bushings and cross-axis ball joints in the rear tow links that enhance lateral stiffness
The Turbo 1LE also gets wide summer tires (275mm in the rear, 245mm in the front), Brembo brakes, a drive-mode selector with sport and track modes, a suede flat-bottom steering wheel and shift knob, and optional Recaro seats, along with nearly 50-50 weight distribution.
As you can see, there’s a lot to like about the 2019 Camaro, and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of one so I can test it out for myself. And while I’m not 100% sold on the styling of the new Camaro, maybe it’s one of those designs that looks better in person than in photos.
What do you think of the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro?
Review: 2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t
Of all of the vehicles in the Infiniti line, the Q50 is probably the most timeless. For the 2018 model year, the Q50 shuffles a few things, but remains as it’s been for some time. Unlike many in the luxury segments, however, the 2018 Infiniti Q50 holds its age well and after a week in this sedan, we still like it for everything that it is.
Key to the Q50’s nature are its understated good looks, comfortable interior, and a strong road presence. Like most in the luxury sport sedan market, the Infiniti Q50 is offered in a variety of performance flavors from the daily driving 2.0t model with its turbocharged four-cylinder to the powerful Red Sport 400 and the fuel-sipping Q50 Hybrid model. We spent our week driving the middle-road 3.0t model with its turbocharged six-cylinder engine and would recommend it as the Q50 of choice for most buyers.
The 2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t combines strong performance with a likeable price point. Much of the focus gets put on the Red Sport 400 model, which deserves that notice, but which most will likely find overpowered and too highly priced to compensate. The well-done 3.0-liter V6 in the 3.0t model outputs 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which are more than enough to make a midsize luxury sedan feel powerful and go fast. The solid range of output the engine has is well managed by the smart automatic transmission that comes attached and the tight and balanced chassis all of it sits upon.
We drove the all-wheel drive model and would recommend it for not only its added control, but its peace of mind when the weather goes sour. We had snow and bad weather during our time with the 2018 Q50 3.0t and it proved itself capable in those conditions.
Fuel economy in the 2018 Q50 is good, with the 3.0t model returning 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway on paper and a little better than that, we found, in real life. Compared to the less powerful 2.0t’s 23/31 and the more powerful Red Sport 400’s 20/26, the 3.0t’s V6 seems to balance power output and economy well.
Key to the 2018 Infiniti Q50’s appeal is its timeless exterior design, which starts with an understated front grille and hawkeye-shaped headlamps. A hoodline shaped for speed, fenders bulging with power, and an unobtrusive rear fender design all combine to make for that timeless, sport-tuned quality that the Q50 carries with it.
Our chief concerns with the Infiniti Q50 are in the interior, where the dual screen infotainment often vies with itself to see which screen will glare more often and the somewhat cramped trunk space. The latter being especially true if you prefer to carry a full-sized spare tire.
Where the interior shines, however, is everywhere else. Quality materials and high-end workmanship are seen in the cabin with ergonomics and layout being very well done. We like the low-slung dashboard, which keeps the cabin cozy without impinging on legroom, and the cushioning way the rear seating is shaped to keep rear headroom high despite the sloping roofline.
The 2018 Infiniti Q50 2.0t has a base price of $34,200 while the 3.0t starts at $38,950. We recommend bumping that over forty thousand to get the 3.0t Sport model with AWD for the best mix of accoutrements and drivetrain.