JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
9/8/23 8:37 a.m.

A few years ago, we recommitted ourselves to properly testing new cars. This meant testing them on track, what with us being a track-focused media outlet and all. 

Fortunately, we have an exceptional test facility nearby in the form of the Florida International Rally & Motorsport Park, whose partnership makes this part of the job realistic. Every relevant new …

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Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/8/23 8:45 a.m.

I just want to say, I really appreciate your style of writing. It's very conversational and personal. Very enjoyable to read. 

 

ConiglioRampante
ConiglioRampante Reader
9/8/23 9:37 a.m.

I'll second what Toyman! said.

Glad you mentioned OEM tires.  A number of reviews of the MK7 and 7.5 GTi complained about the all-season tires VW had on the car that gave up way too early and spoiled a lot about what was a very good chassis.  I agreed.  The Bridgestone Potenza RE97 AS that came on my car had so little cornering grip -especially in the wet- that I researched them to see what was "wrong" with them.

Turns out, nothing was technically wrong with them, and the simple answer was that they were developed almost solely for delivering good gas mileage, which yeah, they delivered on.

When the MK8 GTi was delivered for reviews, many people remarked about the serious upgrade in tires this time around, a few outlets even using words like "cheater tires."  The tires no doubt helped the various lap times tumble, probably more than the usual bump in horsepower and torque, and some chassis development...I have no doubt it all helped, but the big takeaway seemed to be the rubber that hit the road.

I appreciate the way y'all approach the topic of testing and the data logging, as it does provide interesting insight.

This post is long enough, but you mention a magazine that may or may not go by the initials of R&T.  I remember reading that mag back in the early 1980's when ABS was a new thing and there was "enthusiast" pushback about safety nanny intervention, it interferes with driver involvement, and everyone was a Driving God who was simply better at braking than some artificial ABS system would ever be.  (as an aside, aren't you glad enthusiasts got over those types of tired arguments long ago?cheeky)

Anyway, to *prove* humans were better than computers, that magazine had two guys test a car with and without ABS.  And yes, those two dudes were able to threshold brake about 2 ft. shorter than the car with ABS did. 
 

That mag proved its point once and for all, case closed.

Oh, I'll just mention something even though it's likely of no importance, really, but those two dudes were named Paul Frere and Phil Hill.  Just your usual "Everyman" drivers who happened to win a lot of sportscar, endurance, and F1 races, and stuff.  But I doubt that impacted the test in any way. wink

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
9/8/23 9:47 a.m.

Excellent article, and we really do appreciate the method.

 

There are so many issues with a lot of outlets, from ringer drivers to ringer cars to ringer tires to rollout when measuring 0-60. We appreciate that you do none of those things.

 

My kids are discovering Top Gear for the first time. I hear something, and point out "Hey kiddo, you know that this is wildly entertaining, but all scripted, right?" and they are so surprised. That's Top Gear. Imagine discovering R&T for the first time and not knowing this.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/8/23 10:10 a.m.

When I was doing a round of magazine tests (I think it was for the Westfield), I was chatting with some of the major magazine editors about 0-60 testing. They all have different ways of interpreting the data, all with the intent of making it more consistent. IIRC two of them would have come up with a 0.3s difference in the calculated result of the very same 0-60 run.

But having been there for instrumented testing - they're not trying to game anything. I've never seen an attempt to try to come up with a desired result, only the most accurate.

An aside, speaking of manufacturer ringers: I was at a shoot for a TV show (Proving Grounds) a few years back. BMW had sent along their latest sporty compact - some M2 variant, I think - and the Veloster N was also there. The BMW burned up its back tires doing drifty corner exits before the actual test. BMW offered a new set of tires, but someone at the track would have to go pick them up in Las Vegas, a 500+ mile round trip. That wasn't going to work. Eventually the team managed to swap some front tires from a new Mustang on to the BMW wheels and the car did its timed run with a mismatched set. Also, that Mustang went back to Ford with a set of toasted front tires of a different make, which probably caused some entertainment.

Meanwhile, Hyundai had provided at least four full sets of mounted and balanced tires for the Veloster because, well, of course they're going to get used up, and making a good showing on a TV show is important.

I also had a spare set of rubber on hand for the V8 Miata I had brought :)

 

The whole R&T "pay to watch us test" is just an attempt to get a few bucks to cover costs. It will likely fail because unless you're just there to hear the latest exotic at full chat, it's a pretty boring way to spend a day even for free.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/8/23 10:19 a.m.

Glad to hear you all enjoyed the piece. I enjoyed it as well.

And, yeah, we have debated the tire issue: OE tires or an aftermarket model?

But if going aftermarket, which one? And what if doesn’t come in all of our sizes? Or what if that size is on back order? Or it gets discontinued or updated?

OE sizes or a common plus-zero upgrade? 

Fresh tires for each test? And where to store all those tires?

It got complicated quickly. 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
9/8/23 10:27 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

It feels like a constant battle against variables. In the end, there's likely just too many to account for.

Putting these tests together and organizing the results is a lot of work, but I'm glad you all are enjoying it.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/8/23 10:46 a.m.

I think testing on the OE tires is the way to go. That's how most people will drive the car for the first few tens of thousands of miles, and it is how the manufacturer chose to spec the car. They're often not off-the-shelf rubber. If they've prioritized fuel economy over grip, well, they didn't really think track performance was the main selling point of the car.

We bought a Canadian-market 1991 Passat new back in the day. It came with some sort of gumball summer tire from the factory because it was a German Sports Wagon. They wore like crazy and were completely hopeless in the snow. In Canada.  Didn't take long before VW was offering a very good deal on snow tires for all Passat wagon owners.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
9/8/23 11:08 a.m.

I forgot a fun story circa 2002 or so. I worked for a tier 1 supplier as a co-op, basically a fly on the wall. We were making TPMS for [redacted] who decided to have their car prepared for a magazine shootout of new [redacted]. They called in a panic, the TPMS system was going off everywhere, everything was showing 0 psi. Now infant mortality in automotive was near-zero, and all four on one vehicle is insane, so we sent a guy there over the weekend. I heard the story the week afterwards from him.

 

The manufacturer sent the vehicles to be prepped. As part of the prep, they replaced the air in the tires with helium. Helium. I still don't ever understand why. Maybe the shop had a really poor understanding of mass and buoyancy? Anyway helium, being a very very small molecule, goes right through rubber pretty quickly, and while it takes a while to get through a radial tire, it goes through a diaphragm in a chip near immediately.

 

Nothing was wrong with anything other than the guy, clearly seeking some performance advantage by being a complete idiot. It stands to reason that sometimes that guy isn't a complete idiot.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
9/8/23 11:09 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

I think testing on the OE tires is the way to go. That's how most people will drive the car for the first few tens of thousands of miles, and it is how the manufacturer chose to spec the car. They're often not off-the-shelf rubber. If they've prioritized fuel economy over grip, well, they didn't really think track performance was the main selling point of the car.

We bought a Canadian-market 1991 Passat new back in the day. It came with some sort of gumball summer tire from the factory because it was a German Sports Wagon. They wore like crazy and were completely hopeless in the snow. In Canada.  Didn't take long before VW was offering a very good deal on snow tires for all Passat wagon owners.

I agree, though I offer that it depends. Perhaps both are required. OEM tires are clearly the right answer for an SUV or a crossover to test with, but if we're talking about a car likely to be tracked, it might help to show what a trackday tire would do to the car, but only with clear explanation and clarification that you have done so, with no comparisons to other cars without that change as well.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/8/23 11:40 a.m.

I think GRM does that the right way - test the car with the OE tires (not OEM, that would be like putting Michelin Pilot Sport Cups on a Miata), then test the tires on some of the most popular track day cars. That doesn't tell you exactly how tire X will work on car Y, but short of testing every possible setup that's not going to happen. Also, GRM's tire tests are some of the most popular articles they publish so they're certainly not going to want to stop doing them :)

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/8/23 11:48 a.m.

Wait, I can show up and watch JG sweat in person for only $250!?   This'll save me a TON on my OnlyFans subscription!

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
9/8/23 11:54 a.m.
Toyman! said:

I just want to say, I really appreciate your style of writing. It's very conversational and personal. Very enjoyable to read. 

 

Get up, go outside, and do something. - Me, mostly talking to myself.

Thank you!

It's kind of the only way I know how to write effectively—to basically copy my speech patterns. If you watch the track tests on YouTube you may even notice that a lot of the phrasing carries over from the written stories to the video reviews. That's not really beacuse of scripting, but it's because that's how my brain generates words.

I suppose I'm lucky that the only method I'm good at is also one that connects with people.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
9/8/23 12:03 p.m.

And, yeah, the tire thing is a huge variable that we ultimately realized was not going to be worth controlling. First off, the manufacturers are VERY picky about how you treat their cars. Just the fact that we've been able to convince them to let us do unsupervised track testing is HUGE. They've also spent BILLIONS developing these cars, and if the first thing you want to do is change something highly significant that they spent all that time and money figuring out, everyone from marketing to product development to risk management throws up a HUGE red flag.

That said, we also appreciate that folks in our community want data on configurations closer to what they deal with in their experience. We've reached out to som manufacturers that we have strong relationships with to address this and maybe in the future we'll be able to on a limited basis. 

CAinCA
CAinCA GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/8/23 12:41 p.m.

The problem with changing the tires is that, well now the brake pads aren't up to snuff, and the alignment isn't optimized, and, and, and...

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/8/23 12:42 p.m.
CAinCA said:

The problem with changing the tires is that, well now the brake pads aren't up to snuff, and the alignment isn't optimized, and, and, and...

Yes, that, too. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 PowerDork
9/8/23 12:49 p.m.

I will chime in and pretty much echo Kieth's comments and JG's as well;

I want to know what the car will do as it rolls off the dealership's lot, so running the car with the stock tires makes sense to me.

As for new cars; I maybe a vintage racing stalwart but new cars are crazy good.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
9/8/23 1:20 p.m.

I kinda want Y'all to test GRM'ers cars to see if they're better or worse than factory and by how much.

 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
9/8/23 1:28 p.m.
bobzilla said:

I kinda want Y'all to test GRM'ers cars to see if they're better or worse than factory and by how much.

 

Funny you mention that, too...

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
9/8/23 1:34 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
bobzilla said:

I kinda want Y'all to test GRM'ers cars to see if they're better or worse than factory and by how much.

 

Funny you mention that, too...

Wait... did I have a decent thought for once? I'll bring the Rio for a weekend. 

 

Tom1200
Tom1200 PowerDork
9/8/23 1:52 p.m.
bobzilla said:

I kinda want Y'all to test GRM'ers cars to see if they're better or worse than factory and by how much.

 

Define better?

My Datsun 1200 is now 5 seconds faster down the 1/4 mile, has a 20 mph great top speed and is 22 seconds a lap faster that a stock 1200 BUT it rides like an oxcart and the NVH is horrendous.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/8/23 5:43 p.m.
CAinCA said:

The problem with changing the tires is that, well now the brake pads aren't up to snuff, and the alignment isn't optimized, and, and, and...

Trivia: The main difference suspension tuning wise between an '84-85 RX-7 GSL-SE and a non -SE was stiffer dampers, because the stock tires were contemporary gumballs that could pull about .1g more cornering force than the lesser models. Same springs, stabilizers, and alignment.  IIRC they could go .9g, in 1984!

 

I don't recall what the other Japanese cars could do, but the F40 a few years later could do 1.01 and this was considered incredible...

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/8/23 6:21 p.m.
Tom1200 said:
bobzilla said:

I kinda want Y'all to test GRM'ers cars to see if they're better or worse than factory and by how much.

 

Define better?

My Datsun 1200 is now 5 seconds faster down the 1/4 mile, has a 20 mph great top speed and is 22 seconds a lap faster that a stock 1200 BUT it rides like an oxcart and the NVH is horrendous.

Go to O'Reilly's and get some cupholders and extra power points so you can at least shore up your comfort and convenience score.

ClifT
ClifT
9/11/23 7:18 p.m.

Weather can make a significant difference in lap times. Cold days allow engines to generate lots more power, hot days can make the track surface greasy. Have you found a way to account for this in your testing?

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