In Soviet Russia car drive you
…And crazy ass sh!t happens on the roads
The correct answer is NO! Why can’t people stop trying to boss everyone else around. But then the lil’ hitlers wouldn’t have anything to do. I might have to buy another motorcycle before they mandate ABS for all of them.
About 2 years ago I read an article in which the staff tested the new cbr (at the time) with and without abs (would share the article if I can find it).
(on dry pavement) The writer having not ridden the bikes much was able to stop quicker with abs initially but after riding for a few hours was able to have shorter stops on the version without abs.
(on wet pavement) The abs bike came to a halt sooner pretty consistently. I remember reading this and thinking I definately don’t want ABS (I had a ’05 GSXR 750 at the time), it would only proivde a benefit if I rode in the rain, which i avoided.
Eric is absolutely right that there is pride in being able to do something that others don’t which is part of the reason I like my mid-engine mr2 (no f’n abs). It takes away so much of the intimacy.
Something like this will lead to more fatalities in the long run because once bikes are made easier to ride more people will do it. And the majority of those people will be morons. To me it is similar to a situation where an engineer is taught how to run FEA software but doesn’t learn the basics of Strength of Materials, Calculus, Statics, Dynamics, etc…
Should Bikes Be Required to Have ABS?
The insurance mafia thinks so – and is “petitioning” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make it so. Which means (if they’re successful): You’ll pay more for your next new bike, your next new bike will be more expensive to service – in part, because you probably won’t be able to service it yourself – and it will cost you more to insure, since the ABS-equipped bike will have a higher replacement cost (the primary basis for figuring premiums) than a bike without ABS. It will also likely become more of a throw-away, in the same way (and for the same reason) that modern cars have become throw-aways: Ten or twelve years down the road, when the $800 ABS pump craps out, it won’t be worth fixing. So, the bike will get tossed.
Why can’t the insurance mafia ever leave people free to choose for themselves? Oh, of course. In that case, it would no longer be a mafia.
It’s not that people are being denied access to the technology. You can buy a new bike equipped with ABS right now, if you wish. The problem – as the insurance mafia views it – is that you don’t have to buy an ABS-equipped bike. You can choose not to. And that cannot be permitted.
They – the insurance mafia – claim pure motives. That they’re concerned about our “safety.” But, as they used to teach in journalism school, follow the money.
Bike manufacturers can increase their profit margins by force-feeding ABS (and ABS service) to everyone instead of just a relative handful. The insurance mafia gets to charge more for “coverage,” which of course is also force-fed (because it is mandatory). Win-win.
But how about us? The people buying (and riding) the bikes?
Leave aside the money issue for a moment.
ABS is a tough sell to the two-wheeled crowd because it takes control away from the rider. For a novice or unskilled rider, ABS (and linked brakes) may, indeed, provide a safety net. Exactly as it does in cars. But, there’s a reason why race cars don’t have ABS. And it’s the same reason why most riders who know how to ride don’t want either ABS – or linked brakes, either. That reason is, simply, the greater degree of control one has over his machine when he is in control of the brakes: How much (or little) pressure to apply to the front (or rear) calipers; the ability to finely “trim” (as they say in aviation) how the bike reacts, especially in a high-performance environment. Put another way, it is the personal satisfaction that attends becoming a skilled rider.
ABS – and linked brakes – takes much of that away by rendering acquired skill largely irrelevant. Instead of learning just how hard to squeeze the trigger – while at the same time applying just enough pressure (or none) to the pedal that controls the rear brake . . . developing that sixth sense about incipient wheel lock and learning both how to avoid and how to deal with it when it does happen . . . one just grabs the lever and that’s it.
The ABS system does it all for you.
The bike becomes “safer” in the sense that it’s more idiot-proofed. But it’s also become less of a bike – and more like a car. Which ultimately means there’s less reason to ride the thing. The experience is watered-down.
What drives people to throw a leg over? Is it not, at least in part, that bikes are more of a challenge than cars? The pride that comes from being able to do something well that most people can’t do at all? Bikes are scary – in the same way that parachuting out of an airplane is scary. Neither is done lightly. There is a learning curve. You had better know what you’re doing. Those who don’t get mustered out – one way or another.
Is this a bad thing?
Why must motorcycles be dumbed-down, too?
They – the insurance mafia and its flip side, the government – have already sucked most of the joy out of driving. I say this as a guy who test drives new cars every week. Never before have cars been as powerful/capable as they are today. They are also over-nannied, over-teched – and overpriced. Which is exactly what’s happening to bikes.
A new ZX10 may be light-years more capable than a ’73 H2 750. But almost anyone can ride a new ZX10 – and very few could ride an H2 at all.
Let alone ride it well.
We are losing something – or about to lose something – very important. And the worst part is that “we” aren’t the ones deciding – or even being asked our opinion. These control freak pricks aren’t asking. They aren’t suggesting.
They are insisting.
Capo di tutti capo Adrian Lund of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says: “”The data continue to accumulate in support of motorcycle ABS five years after we first reported on its effectiveness . . We hope NHTSA will agree that it’s time to take action to ensure all riders get the benefit of this lifesaving technology.”
Why can’t individual people be left alone to “take action” for themselves? If it’s such a good idea, surely they’d freely choose to buy ABS on their own? And in any case, isn’t it their right to choose for themselves? The casual effrontery of mafiosi such as Adrian Lund almost beggars belief.
What was it Seinfeld used to say? Who are these people?
And who appointed them the boss of us?
Throw it in the Woods?
Eric Peters is always looking out for libertarian ideals and specializes in the ones that revolve around the automotive world. He goes after the soon to be likely mandated “brake assist” systems. Essentially cars that are smart enough to brake for you. This will inevitably lead to less safe driving which is what the idea supposedly “cures”. If only mandates could “cure” everything. Maybe that should be mandated, govt cures all with solitary decree. There, all done.
I personally don’t even like ABS or traction control, a gadget that causes the necessary skills for good driving to atrophy and disappear. In my mind it is akin to (in engineering) learning how to run a piece of Finite Element Analysis software but never actually learning Strength of Materials so all you know is how to run the software and have no idea how or when to correct the “smart” car when it makes a mistake.
Remeber, it’s not her fault she is a bad driver; it’s that she wasn’t mandated to buy a car with “brake assist.” Think about all the boats that will be saved from deranged drivers with this mandate.
The Next Mandate You’ll Be Paying For: Brake Assist
And of course, it won’t be NHTSA that’s paying for it.
We will be paying for it.
It’s called “Brake Assist” – and it’s a feature (currently optional) that can be found in several higher-end new cars. It’s a high-tech form of idiot-proofing, designed to end-run the problem of inattentive drivers by having the car pay attention instead. The vehicle is fitted with radar or cameras that have the ability to detect objects in the vehicle’s path. If the driver doesn’t react to the presence of these potential obstacles within a predetermined time, the system takes over and automatically applies the brakes. Some systems are capable of completely stopping the car without the driver even putting his foot over the brake pedal.
Cue broken record… making this technology part of the required-by-law package of standard safety equipment in all new cars will “save lives.” Which is probably true – but then, so would outlawing driving altogether.
You know what might really save lives? Encouraging people to be better drivers. Expecting them to pay attention to what’s going on around them. To be prepared to brake for themselves when the need to do so arises.
Ah, but that would be expecting too much – and besides, there’s neither money nor power in that.
Adding Brake Assist will add another line-item to the bottom line cost of new cars. How much per car, it’s hard to say – because right now, Brake Assist is integrated with a roster of other complex system in expensive high-end cars. But figure a couple hundred bucks at least up front – and potentially a lot more down the road, as the various components begin to fail and have to be replaced.
The average new car’s braking system is already a very complex system because of add-ons such as ABS and traction/stability control (which works through the ABS system). Like these features or hate these features, there’s no debate about the expense of these features. Just one example: An ABS-equipped car has a part called an ABS pump. This is the device that pumps the brakes for you, in order to avoid the wheels locking up during a panic stop and so, avoiding an uncontrolled skid. That’s great. But if/when the pump goes bad – and this happens pretty regularly, because people tend not to get their brake systems flushed as often as they ought to and old, contaminated brake fluid is very hard on ABS pumps – the vehicle’s owner is typically looking at a $500-plus bill for a new pump.
You might remember the days – not all that long ago – when you could service the entire brake system for a third that amount.
Point being, there are costs involved. And given that it’s us – each of us, as individuals – who will pay them – shouldn’t we have a say in the matter? There’s something startlingly obnoxious about a bureaucrat in an agency deciding for us – and then handing us the bill. Such a bureaucrat is one David Friedman, the new deputy (stellvertreter des fuhrers) head of NHTSA. Friedman was formerly a “transportation analyst” at the Union of Concerned Scientists – a left-wing authoritarian outfit that’s one of the epicenters of For Your Own Good at Gunpoint. He, of course, “earns” a six-figure income extracted by force from unwilling victims (that’s us) and so, probably won’t notice or much mind paying an extra couple hundred bucks for his next new car, equipped with the mandatory Brake Assist. But what about the rest of us? Perhaps we’d like to have the choice. Our choice. Since we’re being “asked” to pay the bill, after all.
But the real cost ought to be measured in terms of ever-lowering competence expectations. Brake Assist will arguably make drivers less attentive – since after all, the car is now paying attention for them. And less attentive drivers are – wait for it – less safe drivers. Brake Assist might not work one fine day – then what? Will the driver of a car so equipped who expected his car to stop for him be consoled by the fact that it should have stopped but didn’t – and the car ended up plowing into something – or someone?
Granted, that’s not likely to be a common occurrence (even though it could and probably will happen as no man-made system is or ever can be free of flaws; eventually, everything falls apart/stop working; it’s called entropy). But we can already see the effects of dumbed-down driving all around us. Cars have never been more capable than they are right now. But drivers – on average – have never been worse. There is a relationship. When it took more skill – and attentiveness – to operate a motor vehicle, the typical driver had to – of necessity – acquire some skills and practice them. This made him a better – and thus, safer – driver. As cars take less and less skill to operate, the result is going to be, almost axiomatically, lower-skilled drivers.
Technology is only as good as the people who use it. A highway full of Eloi in automated or nearly automated cars conjures a bleak picture of a future, not too far off, in which passivity trumps competence. In which people don’t do things but expect things to do for them.
It’s a world that appeal to guys like David Friedman, perhaps. But it makes me want to run for the hills, screaming at the top of my lungs.
Throw it in the Woods?
Where are all the people who are supposedly ”Pro-Choice”? Oh that’s right, they are only pro-choice in regards to that one choice. What about all the consumer products we are and aren’t allowed to buy because of nonsensical edicts by our owners.
“No inexpensive, comfortable, reliable car for you!”
A new car that gets 40+mpg’s, looks descent and costs less than $10k and we aren’t allowed to buy it. Tell me why again why we need the EPA & DOT?
GM’s $9,800 Car . . . The One We’re Not Allowed to Buy
How much is the EPA and DOT costing you?
One way to quantify this is to consider a car GM builds – but which you can’t buy. Well, not unless you move outside the United States – and beyond the diktats and fatwas of the EPA and DOT.
It is called the Sail – and GM makes it in China. It retails for 60,000 yuan – equivalent to about $9,800 in “federal” reserve notes.
Demand for the car is so great that GM plans to increase its exports of the Sail to countries like Chile and Ecuador by nearly 70 percent, according to a recent Reuters article (see here).
It just won’t be exported here.
Those two federal agencies mentioned at the beginning of this story. These unelected and unaccountable bureaucracies have made it illegal – a criminal offense – to sell you a car like the Sail. Which, by the way, is neither primitive nor pathetic. The most recent design is a modern and aesthetically appealing sedan or five-door hatchback wagon with a Corvette-inspired “dual cockpit” dash layout. The car has AC, power windows, power door mirrors and a modern stereo with Bluetooth wireless and music streaming. It even has a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
It would look at home on any road – and in any garage – in the Western world.
But what really sets the car apart is what’s under its hood. There, you would (if you could buy the Sail) find a high-efficiency 1.4 liter, 101 hp engine or (if you were allowed to choose) 1.2 liter, 85-hp engine that averages 41.2 MPG – easily meeting the 35.5 MPG fuel economy fatwa issued by the Feds, which goes into effect just two model years from now (2016). There is also a 1.3 liter turbo-diesel engine (Fiat-sourced!) on the roster of options.
It does even better.
Imagine that: A 40 MPG-plus car that costs less than $10,000 and which isn’t a flimsy/shoddy latter-day Yugo, either. It’s not the quickest thing on wheels – depending on the engine, zero to 60 takes 12-15 seconds – but it’s certainly adequate for A to B commuting and general knocking around. It’s only slightly less quick than a Prius C, hybrid – which takes about 11.3 seconds to get to 60 (and costs almost $20,000).
Unfortunately (for American car buyers) the Sail does not pass muster with current EPA emissions and DOT safety requirements.
Hence, it cannot be sold here.
But it is neither “unsafe” – nor “dirty.”
The Sail would probably meet the EPA/DOT standards in effect circa 1990 – by which time new cars were so “clean” that only about 5 percent of what came out of the tailpipe was other than water vapor and carbon dioxide (an inert gas that has nothing to do with the formation of smog). Since that time, the EPA has pursued a policy of diminishing returns by insisting that the remaining 5 percent of the exhaust stream that’s not water vapor and C02 be “controlled.” Instead of a $200 catalytic converter, a $70 oxygen sensor and a $500 throttle body fuel injection system – which cleaned up 90 percent of the exhaust – it’s $500 a piece for for multiple close-coupled cats, $2,000 for direct gas injection (and so on) to get a 1 percent (if that) additional reduction.
But that’s not the way it’s presented to the public. EPA will instead say that its newest mandate will “cut new car emissions by 50 percent.” Which is technically true. But what EPA never tells you is that they mean 50 percent off the remaining 3-5 percent of tailpipe emissions that are not yet “controlled.” In other words, a fractional reduction – at ever-increasing cost to consumers. But that doesn’t sound as good as saying the new edict will “cut new car emissions by 50 percent.” So it’s not said.
Probably, the Sail would be ok if it only had to meet the “safety” standards that were in effect circa 1990. It is after all about the same size and weight as a Geo Metro of that era. Was the Metro a deathtrap? Hundreds of thousands of people drove them without suffering so much as a stubbed toe. But it would be hugely illegal for GM to try to sell the 1990 Metro today. Just as it is illegal for GM to try to sell the Sail today.
To us, that is.
The fact of the matter is that almost any car sold in this country as recently as five years ago would likely not pass muster with current “safety” requirements. Go back ten years and none would make the cut. Think about that. A model year 2003 S-Class Mercedes sedan would be considered “unsafe” . . . by current standards. But was it actually unsafe? Of course not. And neither was a 1993 S-Class Benz.
Like so many – like all – agencies of state coercion, there “ain’t no end to doin’ right” – as the rabid Union cavalry officer put it in the classic film, The Outlaw Josey Wales. It just won’t do to admit that the job has been done. Cars are clean enough – and “safe” enough. Our job is done. Time to find productive work.
No, of course not. EPA and DOT continue to metastacize – their staffs and budgets always increasing, their edicts and fatwas becoming ever-more-onerous, ever-more-absurd, ever-more-expensive.
And that’s why GM can’t sell you a $9,800 (and 41.2 MPG) Sail.
Throw it in the Woods?
This is a perfect example of why the republicans are just as bad as the democrats. I often think about if PA got any worse (instituting something like NY’s SAFE Act for example), where would we move to find a state that better embraces freedom and this leaves NC with a negative mark in my book. (From my research there is no such thing as a truly “free state” in the USSA).
Regardless of your thoughts/opinions on Tesla and electric cars in general; this is pure protectionism and crony capitalism. People in NC might be willing buyers and Tesla might be a willing seller but the tyrannical thugocracy has decreed that sales can only be done in a franchised auto dealer. This type of bill is similar to the internet sales tax being proposed by Walma…I mean Congress to “even the playing field” between online retailers and bricks and mortar retailers.
Why is it when politicians work to make things more “fair” people’s freedom gets diminished and our wallets get assaulted?
What’s noteworthy about the North Carolina bill is that in addition to stopping Tesla, it would force minor changes on the agreements dealers have with established automakers — including an odd proposal barring automakers from ordering dealers to remove sports memorabilia from their stores. (This may have something to do with NASCAR owners who run one model of car on Sundays but sell a variety of them through their name-brand dealership every other day of the week.) Automakers and dealers have fought for years in statehouses over who controls what, and in general, the dealers have held the upper hand. For Tesla, it’s just another sign that Silicon Valley’s only automaker has joined the major leagues.
In Pennsylvania there are really only 2 seasons, Winter and Construction. Rte 83 in Harrisburg has been under some form of repair/construction for about 3 years now. The latest project is a redesign of the 581/83 bridge that runs between Carlisle/Camp Hill and Harrisburg. This section of highway is ridiculous, it can’t handle 1/3 of the traffic it sees and the construction was long overdue. I am so glad I no longer fight work near there and have to engage in vehicular combat with the state drones twice a day. I am sure the union slackers will get it done under-budget and ahead of schedule (lol).
Well, there has been a “snag”, a truck transporting diesel fuel rolled over on the one of the interchanges between 22/322 and rte 81. This is in northern section of H-burg. When I tell you the trailer burned to the ground, I mean it (see the pic below). Further details are in the article at the bottom.
The fire damaged the overpass so much that pieces of 322 are falling into the lanes of 81 below. I am sure this development will do wonders for the locals commutes. This project will likely need to be done quickly so I expect the costs to high. I would not be surprised if the costs of the repairs ends up being paid for with a small state-wide gas tax increase. After all it wouldn’t be fair for the trucker and his trucking company to have to pay the bill, aren’t we all part of the same “village”?
Damage from a fuel tanker explosion near the interchange of Interstate 81 and Route 22/322 will cost tens of millions and shut down a small section of road for two months or more, state officials said Thursday afternoon.
Earlier Thursday morning, a fuel tanker exploded and rolled over on the highway, causing what Gov. Tom Corbett believes is the worst damage to a Pennsylvania highway since a tire fire off I-95 near Philadelphia in 1996.
Both directions of I-81 from Route 581 in Cumberland County to I-81/83 split in Dauphin County are closed. Officials said they expect it to reopen in time for the Monday morning commute.
The ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322 remains closed. Eastbound Route 22 through the interchange toward the City of Harrisburg remains closed.
Earlier this afternoon, PennDOT re-opened the ramp from westbound Route 22 to southbound Interstate 81 in the I-81 Exit 67 interchange.
Westbound traffic on Route 22 approaching the I-81 Exit 67 interchange can now continue through the interchange to go west toward Dauphin and State College, north onto northbound I-81, and south onto southbound I-81.
To help ease traffic, Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls are being waived between the Harrisburg East and Carlisle exits. The turnpike said in a news release that tolls will be waived until at least Sunday or Monday.
State officials hope to reopen one lane in each direction to traffic on the outbound side in time for the Monday morning commute, but the inbound side needs to be removed along with the bridge overhead the spot on 81 where the explosion occurred.
Detour signs will be posted on roadways. Officials also encourage motorists to check the
511pa.com traffic web site.
About 2,000 gallons of fuel also spilled into Paxton Creek and Wildwood Lake. Environmental crews are on site cleaning up now and will continue to monitor for at least a couple months.
The explosion and roads closures also caused a gridlock on roads throughout the Harrisburg region that delayed school buses and business openings and will cause delays indefinitely.
State police have not yet released details about the cause of the explosion, the name of the driver, nor the company that owns the truck. He was burned only “mildly”, according to initial reports, despite fuel fire temperatures that can reach as high as 1,400 degrees, PennDOT officials said.
State police expect to release updates to the investigation by Friday.
Corbett is seeking federal approval for an emergency declaration, but said state workers will have a typical schedule Friday. He advised them – and everyone else commuting Friday in the Harrisburg area – to allow extra time to travel.
Eric Peters with a great article that shows what our owners have in store for us by further destroying our right to unobstructed travel. One of the most famous previous examples is the “claymore in your steering wheel” (great term by Eric) they call an airbag.
Now they bascially want to mandate we use our cell phones as a secondary key to start and operate our cars? Where is the limit?
So there is the potential that every car has one of these installed; well that only works under the assumption that every person has a cell phone, which not all people who drive have. I assume there will be a beauracratic process of getting a form approved by some ass-clown to get an exemption.
And what if you simply don’t want to bring your cellphone with you? In theory this will force you to bring your cell phone/GPS tracking device with you whenever you drive. Your owners need to know where you are going and what you are doing at all times.
What if you are out and lose the phone. Not only do you not have your phone but now you can’t drive your car. Absolutely idiotic.
Even with this system, what will stop someone like me who has an old iPhone that no longer has a cell-phone package but still works as an iPod from being plugged in and negating the entire system? There could be a small industry created that would build fake cell phones that look real but whose only function is to bypass this POS technological infringement of freedom.
Now, to be clear; I hate it when I see people are talking on their phone or texting while driving. But if they do this and cause no harm I don’t see why it is a problem. This is just another example of how TPTB think they can manage everyone’s life by destroying freedom to achieve safety.
The irony of all this is that the government will mandate a $400 device/cost onto the people whether they want it or not and more than likely a $5-10 piece of electronics will negate it anyway.
The only thing missing (so far) from our lil’ hitlers in charge, is a mention of how this will “protect the children.”
The jihad against sail fawn gabbling – and worst of all, texting – is about to bear fruit in the form of the ORIGOSafe (see here). It is a dock – an interlock – built into your car (perhaps your next new car) that will prevent the engine from being started unless you first insert your sail fawn into said dock.
For safety’s sake, of course.
“April is Distracted Driving Month,” lectures ORIGOSafe Founder Clay Skelton. “No matter how much people talk about the dangers of hand-held texting, especially among teens, driving isn’t getting any safer… .” He drones on for awhile more along the same lines before coming to the denouement: His device – installed in every new car. You can almost see the double dollar signs in his pupils.
Now, he doesn’t actually say the word. You know the word. Mandate. But where else is this headed? The concept is far too profitable to be lefty to the vagaries of the (semi) free market, to (what’s left of) consumer choice. Because – no doubt – very few consumers would freely choose to have their cars mauled with ORIGOSafe.
After all, would you?
“For only (italics added) $279″ – plus another $125 to install the filthy bugger – “you can have peace of mind knowing your driver is focused on the road, with the phone safely docked in the ORIGO,” trumpets the company web site.
Yep, “only” another $400 or so out the window – on top of the air bags ($1,500 per car according to most estimates) the back-up cameras ($200 per car) the tire pressure monitors (another hundred, maybe) all the rest of it.
But, you’ll be safer!
That’s the magic word. The word that justifies anything – cost no object. And which renders individual choice irrelevant. No, anathema.
If it’s “safe” then it’s a must do. Just what the doctor ordered.
And that’s what worries me most – the ordered part. My Spider Sense is tingling. I just know – with depressing certitude – that ORIGOSafe will tread the same path already well-worn by other safety items, once optional (failed) now “successful” (because mandatory).
Air bags, for instance. These claymores in the steering wheel would not be in every new car absent the order they be installed.
Same goes for the back-up cameras recently mandated.
Most people, left to their own devices, would elect not to purchase this gear. Not an opinion – a fact. Seat belts were available as optional equipment before they became mandatory equipment. Most people – when they still could – skipped them. Same with air bags when they first appeared in the early ’70s. Same with back-up cameras – which have been around for more than ten years but which many people didn’t buy because they couldn’t justify the additional cost and didn’t feel the need.
Unsafe! Intolerable! It cannot be permitted!
Did you know that several automakers already have in-car Breathalyzers in the works? Yes, indeed. The same interlocks currently fitted to cars owned by convicted “drunk” drivers are almost certainly going to be incorporated into the cars of non-convicts (that’s us) in order to . . . keep us safe. After all, it’s unendurable to imagine that anyone might drive drunk. Therefore, everyone must submit to being handled as presumptively drunk until proved not-drunk.
That premise has already been accepted by the courts – and much more unfortunately, by many people too. So, there will be little objection to mandatory in-car Breathalyzers, when those get rolled out. After all, if it’s okay to stop people at random and compel them to prove they aren’t drunk – well, why not insist they have Breathalyzers installed in their cars? You don’t support drunk driving . . . do you?
These same people will not only embrace – no, demand – that sail fawn interlocks be installed in all new cars. Just as they have insisted that all new cars be fitted with air bags, back-up cameras and tire pressure monitors. Because other people (not them, of course) cannot be trusted to act responsibly and competently. They need – in the insufferably oleaginous phraseology of one of their leaders – to be “nudged” in the right direction.
Well, among other things, I don’t even own a sail fawn – and hope to god I never will. What happens when they drop off a brand-new 2016 car for me to test drive . . . and I can’t even get the damned thing to start because I don’t have a sail fawn to insert into the ORIGOSafe?
I guess it’ll be my cue to exit, stage left. They’ve already sucked most of the joy out of driving anyhow – by taking the driver out of the equation. The latest new cars pre-empt the driver in a multitude of ways – transforming him, with each new model year, into a passenger. If one squints a little and looks hard into the distance, one can see the driverless car coming. Just another couple of years now, at most.
Meanwhile, we’ll all be so much safer (albeit $400 poorer) with our sail fawns securely docked into our ORIGOS.
Next up: Hannibal Lecter-style mouth guards to keep us from talking while driving.
Throw it in the Woods?
Ken Block showing off his precision driving in SanFran as a closed circuit. My pops forwarded it to me and I was writing a reply to him about how this is the sort of thing Travis Pastrana would do, and then he shows up on a dirtbike for a cameo. Nothing against McQueen, but he couldn’t do the maneuvers that were done in this video, but he did Bullit on the road with regular traffic.
Well, watch and enjoy…
I have been looking forward to Eric Peters reviewing the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ for a little while now. I owned one of the RWD Toyota Corollas from the 1980′s (AE86), a ’91 turbocharged MR2 and currently own an ’89 Supercharged MR2. I don’t like Miatas, the look of them and the fact that I am 6’2″ means I fit in them very poorly. But I like lightweight RWD sportscars that are affordable and focus on overall performance as opposed to straightline performance. Used to have a saying back in the day
Straight lines are for fast cars, the curves are for fast drivers driving fast cars.
The idea of the FR-S is in the spirit of the AE86. For those that are bitching that it is really a Subaru should remember that much of the 4AG was developed by Yamaha so collaboration is SOP for Toyota. Look at it more if an open-mind.
It is no featherweight at 2700+ lbs but compared to what is out there, it kinda is. Thank Uncle Sam’s ridiculous meddling for that. At 200hp it isn’t a beast but it appears that it more than can get out of its own way and I don’ tthink the aftermarket will allow 6 months to go by without a turbo or supercharger kit bringing the hp’s over 250 for an affordable price.
Here is EP’s review, I am looking forward to the spring when more of these cars are available at dealerships and I can roll up in my black SC MR2 and give it a true test drive myself. When I do, I will share my thoughts.
Subaru – and Toyota.
The union has resulted in brilliant and most unusual (for their respective parents) offspring: the Subaru BRZ (subject of this review) and its fraternal twin, the Scion FR-S.
It’s the first rear-drive car Toyota has put out in years. And it’s the first non-AWD car Subaru has put out in decades.
They both do everything the much-beloved Miata does – only better. And they give you several things the Miata can’t – such as back seats.
And a boxer engine.
Well, there is one thing the twins can’t do for you: Muss your hair. Because – for now – the BRZ and FR-S are only offered in hardtop coupe form. A convertible version is probably inevitable, though. Because once word gets out about the endless goodness of this car – well, these cars – demand will make it so.
Miata, move over.
It may be all over.
WHAT IT IS
The BRZ (and FR-S) are sports cars. 190 proof, no-nonsense, no BS, real-deal sports cars. Like Miata – only so much better. Low-mounted flat-four boxer engine and 200 hp. Driving dynamics you have to experience to appreciate – after which you will be sorely tempted to sell your oldest daughter to a Saudi sheik – if that’s what it takes to get the $25k or so it takes to acquire one of these things. The best automatic transmission on the market. Yes, a six-speed manual is standard – as it ought to be – but the automatic in this car – anticipatory (and rev-matched) double downshifts, spot-on upshifts – is just as good. Maybe better.
God, I could go on and on.
Prices start at $25,495 for the base (but very nicely equipped) BRZ Premium with six-speed manual. The same car with the optional six-speed automatic starts at $26,595. There’s a step-up Limited trim with more luxury and technology equipment, including high-end leather/suede interior, dual-zone climate control and heated seats. It starts at $27,495 for the manual version, $28,595 with the automatic.
The BRZ is priced just a notch above the functionally identical Scion FR-S, which starts at $24,200 and tops out at $25,300.
Though neither car is available – yet – in roadster form, the obvious target is Mazda’s Miata ($23,720-$30,350) which has been the hegemonic ruler of the affordable sports car world since its introduction back in 1989.
The BRZ and FR-S are also likely to deeply cut into sales of higher-end sport roadsters such as BMW’s Z4 – $47,350 to start – for which you could almost a BRZ and an FR-S.
The works. The BRZ (and FR-S) are brand-new models.
If handling and fun to drive were translated into IQ, this car would rate genius.
No, super genius.
Superbly good six-speed automatic – if you swing that way.
More interior space than Miata.
34 MPG on the highway – with the optional automatic.
No “chick car” issues.
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD
No convertible – yet.
30 MPG on the highway with the standard manual.
A bit beefy (2,762 lbs. vs. 2,480 for the convertible Miata).
Probable dealer mark-up.
UNDER THE HOOD
From the Subaru side of this collaboration comes the 2.0 liter flat-four “boxer” engine that’s standard equipment in both the BRZ and the Scion-badged FR-S. This engine produces 200 hp – 33 hp more than Miata’s also 2.0 liter four cylinder engine. But far more important than how much more hp the BRZ and FRS offer is how the hp is produced.
The Mazda’s engine is a conventional in-line four, with its cylinders all lined up in a row and upright. The Sciobaru’s engine has pairs of cylinders laid on their sides (horizontally) opposed and mounted low. This puts the weight of the engine lower in the chassis – and also spreads it out more evenly – both of which confer advantages when it comes to handling. (Ask any Porsche driver.) It also permits a very low hoodline – a visibility and aerodynamic advantage.
So far, so good.
Ditto the BRZ/FR-S’s gearboxes – both the standard six speed and the optional six-speed automatic – which (in Sport mode) does anticipatory throttle blip double downshifts, among other tricks.
Everyone who’s read about the Sciobaru drivetrain knows how good it is. Brilliant, actually. Especially in a car with a $24k price floor.
But, there’s a catch – 282 of them, actually. That’s the difference in curb weight between the “twins” and the Miata: 2,762 lbs. vs. 2,480 lbs. The Miata is appropriately weighted – the Sciobaru isn’t. It’s nearly 2,800 lbs. empty – and with a 200 pound driver in board it’s over 3,000 lbs. That is heavy for such a little car – for a sports car.
It’s the reason why, despite its significant power advantage over the Miata, it’s a dead heat between the two as far as acceleration. Both cars get to 60 in just under 7 seconds (with manual transmission; the automatic versions of either car are a few tenths slower).
If the Sciobaru weighed the same as the Miata, it would smoke the Miata. And the fact is, the Sciobaru ought to weigh less than the Miata – because it (the Sciobaru) is a hardtop coupe and hardtops usually weigh less than convertibles – because they don’t need the extra body reinforcement to make up for the loss of roof structure.
Mazda’s ace in the hole, despite the Miata being an older design (and arguably, a less sexy design) is that it’s – somehow, miraculously – not a fatty.
So how come the Sciobaru is (for what it is)? My guess is it was designed to anticipate the next round of government crashworthiness standards – which usually means more mass (and so, more weight).
The current Miata may only be a lightweight for now. It will be interesting to see whether the next Miata porks out, too.
One other thing. The manual BRZ (and FR-S) is not a little bit less fuel efficient than the same car with the optional automatic: 22 city, 30 highway vs. 25 city, 34 highway. Of course, you pay about $1,000 more to get the extra 4 MPG on top.
One other thing: Subaru (and Scion) urge premium fuel only. Regardless of transmission. The Mazda Miata is ok sipping regular.
One more thing: Check out the location of the oil filter. It’s right there in top of the engine – making oil filter changes an almost no-tools-required job.
ON THE ROAD
Every once in a blue moon, a car comes along that does for jaded car journalists – who routinely get to drive all sorts of new cars, including exotics – what going for a ride in an F-18 probably does for other people.
The BRZ is such a car.
I did not want to surrender the keys. I have toyed with buying one. That almost never happens. It happened this time.
I’ve driven every sports car – just about – that’s been sold during the past 20-something years. Everything from kit car Lotus 7s to the BMW Z8 Alpina. In between there have been S2000s and NSXs, MR2s, Exiges and Caymans. Z4s – and many Miatas. All of them in their own ways, outstanding cars.
But all of them, in their own ways, limited in one way or another. Sometimes, more than one way.
Some – like the Alpina and Z4 and Cayman – are rich men’s toy’s. Which is great if you’re rich but not so much if you’re not.
Some – like the S2000 – are terrible at anything less than full scream.
There is a reason why they’ve all failed. Only the Miata has endured.
And the BRZ is better than the Miata.
The boxer engine, for starters. It’s something you don’t encounter in the run-of-the-mill. In-line fours, you do. Nothing wrong with the Miata’s engine. It is peppy enough to be fun – and it has proved itself to be all but unkillable. But it is also nothing special. The Sciobaru’s boxer engine is. Listen to it growl. The sound is like nothing else. So also the fruits of the layout: Crouched low – spread out – vs. a centrally mounted lump of metal. The resultant balance that’s achieved has to be experienced to be believed. This is a car that will challenge you – even if you happen to have an SCCA license in your wallet. But at the same time, it is not a difficult or intimidating car for the person who hasn’t got an SCCA license in his wallet. In this respect, the BRZ is very much like the Miata – and very much unlike a car such as the old Honda S2000, which was brilliant at speed, in the right hands – but frustrating and not much fun otherwise.
Like the Miata, the BRZ could be a daily driver. Its engine – though a sweet little thing when you call upon it – is just as happy at 2,000 RPM as it is at 7,400 RPM.
It’s not unreasonably thirsty – and it’s not unreasonably pricey, either.
It can also be teamed up with what I will state for the record – as someone who has driven just about everything – is perhaps the best automatic transmission on the market. And more than that – an automatic that’s suitable for a sports car. Everything about this transmission is sporty – starting with the shifter, which looks and even operates as close to a manual stick as it’s probably possible to get. The gate moves left-right (and up-down) very much like it would move if you were selecting one of six manual gears. Just behind the shifter lever are the important buttons: Trac off, Sport (or Snow) and – most important, VSC Sport. Press to engage – and disengage most of the electronic intervention. And engage anticipatory (and rev-matching) double downshifts, as when decelerating hard just before entering a turn. Whatever your right hand and left foot would do in a given situation given a clutch and driver control of gear changes, this unit will do for you better – and quicker. There is no slop, ever. No lag time in between shifts. No premature (or late) shifts, either.
Just perfect (and perfectly timed) shifts. Every time.
You can control the action manually if you like via the steering wheel mounted paddle controls, but – trust me – this transmission is smarter than you are. It is also beyond merely “better” than the optional automatic in Miata. That car must be ordered with the stick – or else you’ve ruined the car. With the BRZ and FR-S, you can go either way – and not be disappointed.
This is not only unusual. It is unprecedented. At least, at this price point. The Porsche Cayman’s “PDK” dual-clutch automated manual is superb. As it should be in a car that starts at almost $52k.
At this price point – or within $15k of it – there’s nothing that can touch it.
Now, some reviewers have bitched about the 7 second-ish 0-60 times. That a new Mustang V-6 is much quicker – which it is. In a straight line. But the BRZ driver will have his say when the road is no longer straight. God help the Mustang jockey trying to keep up. That goes for the V-8 Mustang, too. It’s a big, beefy, brawny car that handles very well… for a big, beefy brawny car. Even though I personally wish the BRZ were 300 pounds lighter, a new Mustang (the V-6 Mustang) is almost 700 pounds heavier. It also almost two feet longer (188.1 inches vs. 166.7) , nearly four inches wider through the hips (73.9 inches vs. 69.9) and five inches taller (55.6 inches vs. 50.6). It – and cars like it (Camaro, Challenger – even the Hyundai Genesis coupe ) are huge cars in comparison. And, they feel it.
It’s not that they’re oafish. Just big. Heavy. A handful.
The BRZ isn’t.
The same’s true of the Miata, of course – which accounts for much of its perennial appeal.
But now we come to the fork in the road.
AT THE CURB
Anyone’s who has driven the Miata probably likes the Miata. It is a very likable car. But it has two problems – or at least, problems relative to the BRZ and FR-S.
The first is the much-discussed “chick car” thing. Like it or not – and fair or not – the Miata is harder for a guy (especially a big guy) to drive. He looks a little silly, first of all. It’s not as bad as driving a white VW Rabbit cabriolet. But it’s something like that.
And some guys care about that.
No such worries with either the BRZ or the FR-S (which has somewhat different exterior cosmetics but the same general shape).
There are some derivative styling affectations I would have left off had it been up to me – such as the Aston Martin-ish side vents (trim plates, really – because they’re not functional). But they don’t look silly – and that’s what’s important. Meanwhile, the subtle double speed humps along the roof look very good. The three-piece rear airfoil, too. It’s not over-the-top (WRX Sti) but – to my eye – just right. And the car’s overall squat is perfect.
No chick car issues here.
And even if the chick car thing (as regards Miata) isn’t something you care much about, you probably will care about the Sciobaru’s superior interior.
Obviously, the back seats are useless. For carrying passengers. But you’ve got interior cargo capacity for stuff that you don’t have in the two-seater-only Miata. Plus a bigger trunk on top of that: 6.9 cubic feet vs. 5.3 in the Miata.
The Miata does post more front seat legroom (43.1 inches vs. 41.9 for the BRZ/FR-S) but the measurement that matters more – if you’re not-small – is shoulder room. The Sciobaru has 54.5 inches vs. 53.2 for the Mazda. This is very noticeable if you’re a fairly big guy, as I am. The Miata’s not claustrophobic. But it is a bit tight.
I mentioned the major flaw with this car – as I see it: It’s a few hundred pounds too heavy. But inspect the thing and you’ll discover they tried to keep off the beef. The hood, for instance. It is literally almost paper thin. You could bend it in half by hand. You – not Arnold Schwarzennegger. This car will get hurt badly if it ever hits anything other than the slipstream at 100 MPH. Or rather, your wallet will. This is a fairly common problem with all late-model cars: Extremely thin and dent not-resistant panels – designed to fold and so absorb the energy input during “first contact.” But, wow – this one’s papier-mache thin, almost.
Be very careful raising – and closing – the hood.
More power is needed. Or, less weight (somehow). A true sports car’s primary qualification isn’t how quickly it gets to 60. But the BRZ/FR-S ought to be quicker than Miata, given an almost 40 hp advantage.
One way to possibly fix this might be to offer a “delete option” for AC – and make the fixed front quarter glass moveable. That alone might take 100-150 pounds off.
Finally, there’s the roof issue. Or rather, its lack of absence. One of the Miata’s chief draws is its drop-top. People just like a roadster. Something about warm summer days, the wind in your hair.
I expect this will be addressed soon. Probably, Subaru-Toyota wanted to wait and see what the reaction to the Sciobaru would be before going whole-hog and committing to a convertible.
This car – these cars – are going to be such monster hits as it is that I have no doubt a drop-top is already being prototyped. Give it a year.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Triple aces. Home run. Top of the heap. The Duke of New York and A Number One.
It’s hard to see how it could get any better – though 230 hp and a convertible top would be great place to start.
Throw it in the Woods?
Right on Tim from Spootyville (I highly recommend his blog)!
The only thing we are free to do is be coerced to comply with the rules or be fined/imprisoned/killed. That’s not my defintion of freedom either, mine is the same as Tim’s.
|China, North Korea, and South Korea at night|
The countries of the West are moving towards the darkness that is North Korea. We keep passing laws that give us rules and regulations that cover every aspect of our lives. The U.S. Code, if printed on paper, is more than 300,000 pages long.
Would a country “not bound or confined by force” need 300,00 pages of rules and regulations telling us what we can and cannot do, and when, where, how, and how much of it we can do?
A recent experience in my life (described below) brings up the issue of government interference with our cars. There are a multitude of laws covering every aspect of the creation, design, sales, and use of all cars in the United States, and in other “free countries.” Here is an example laws in which it requires a certain part, a catalytic converter, must be installed on all cars in the U.S. That is just one example. There are laws about seat belts. There are laws about airbags. There are laws about headlights. There are laws about wheels. There are laws about gas consumption. etc. etc. etc. Imagine that you are trying to build your own cars for sale.
It would take forever just to read all of the thousands, if not more, rules about what you can and cannot, and when, and where… …you can make cars. This is a significant deterrent from becoming a car manufacturer. And it is not the way that a truly “free” country would operate.
*** Last Thursday I was on my way deer hunting. A government thug police officer asshole pulled me over for not having a license plate on the front of my car. Let me quote, I believe word for word, part of our exchange:
Me: “This car is 10 years old, It has 120,000 miles on it. Why is today the first time that I have been pulled over for this?”
Asshole: “Other cops don’t care. But I’m an asshole.”
You see, here in this “free country” I am required (definition:to impose a compulsion or command on) to have a government issued number on the front of my car. Potentially I could commit a crime and having that government issued ID tag on the front and back of my car would make it easier for the government thugs police officers assholes to find me. It will also make putting cameras on streets more effective because I could be identified by a picture. Incidentally, two guys I know have gotten tickets in the mail because a traffic camera found them making a “right on red.” WTF! I like the look of my car. It looks like this:
Every day I go out to my car, I think to myself, “I get to drive this! How cool is that?” Now that this asshole has decided that I must deface it, what I’m going to see once I follow the rules like a good little sheep peasant government revenue creatorcitizen, is this:
Are you going to feel safer once I have my government issued ID number on the front, as well as the back, of my car? Since having ID numbers on the front of things makes us safer, or at least makes the
government thugs’ police officers’ assholes’ jobs easier when they are looking to solve crimes (They won’t have to bother looking for the numbers on the back of the items, so they will save some effort.), why not add government issued identification numbers to front of other things as well?
Paintings could be stolen. And making a
government thug police officer asshole look for the identification number at the back would be soooo much more work.
|Gov’t Approved Mona Lisa|
|Gov’t Approved Starry Night|
Wouldn’t you feel so much safer? Think of all of the crimes that we could solve if everything had a required government issued identification number on it! If it saves only one life, then its worth it! Support government issued identification numbers on everything, for the children!
*** You might say that having a front license plate is no big deal, everyone else has one. But this is just one example of the government interfering with our lives; by requiring me to deface my car or “binding my actions by force”. (What was the definition of “freedom”?)
If I don’t take time out of my life to comply with this infringement upon my freedom, then after my ten day allowance I will be issued a fine. If I do not pay that fine, then I will have a warrant for my arrest. If I resist arrest, then I could be killed by the
government thugs police. Tell me again about how we live in a “free” country. A country where a victimless crime can result in government thugs murdering civilians. If you step out of line on any one of a number of trivialities then the government can legally kill you.
How “free” are we?
*** You can argue that we are better off because all of our laws protect us from harm (you’d be wrong, and I’d despise you), but you cannot claim, in the presence of laws like these that we live in a “free country.”