The beauty Behind The Brawn

The Brain Behind    The Brawn

 

So we’ve been living with a diverse garage for about five months now and I think I’ve had enough time to make a review on one specific car, the cause behind the diversity. The 2016 Ford Ranger Wildtrak High Rider is a mouthful to say and surprisingly less than a handful to drive.

 

Those of you who have followed my previous blog posts would know that I am not the biggest fan of the introduction of technological interference in the automotive industry. This though – being one of the few times I’ll accept change – showed me a new light to electronic aids.

 

For those who don’t know what electronic aids are, they are a combination of algorithms and sensors incorporated into the manufacturing of the car to convenience the driver. I hadn’t been a great fan of the idea because I believed it numbed driving down. I focused on the bad side of it, from the perspective of a petrolhead it was bad, but from the perspective of a driver headed home after a heavy Christmas dinner, this had happened to be the greatest leap forward in the automotive industry.

 

It was a rainy Christmas evening and I was driving home with the family, as inconsiderate as they were, they fell asleep which gave me the opportunity to explore the bells and whistles the car had. Cruise control isn’t much of a magic trick but it was useful on my hour-and-a-half long drive home. The pitter patter of the nighttime droplets were almost hypnotic, calming and relaxing. This was bad for me because I could not afford to fall asleep.

 

The first thing that wooed me was the lane assist technology, it’s pretty self explanatory. You turn it on on and the car recognizes the boundary lanes on either side of the car and electronically interferes with the steering wheel, making it slightly stiffer to reduce the possibility of swerving. I found this beautiful in all honesty simply because of how useful it actually is. I decided to push the limits and see how far I could take it by minimising  my steering input along a gentle curve on the highway and believe it or not, she leaned in and kept her lanes. I was impressed to say the least. The instrument cluster included a visual representation of the lane assist tech which also included boundary lines that were turned green when the car was kept between the lines and yellow when the car wasn’t, simple and useful.

 

 

Now here’s something that I personally found astonishing. It’s called the pre collision assist and its brilliant. Using sensors situated in front of the car, it monitors the vehicle in front of you and what it does is that if the car in front suddenly brakes, it gives a red warning light on the heads up display and beeps as well as breaking for you until you realize what’s happened and you break even harder. The system was a bit faulty at times warning me about situations that presented no imminent danger.

 

Now the epiphany I had was this, cars will always be cars, no matter the form they come in. Each car has its own qualities, sort of like a human does, and these qualities are made stronger and more noticeable in a car’s flaws. Now what technology has done is that it has eliminated those flaws and has replaced them with life saving algorithms. Sure this is good cause it prevents death and stuff, but like it’s a step closer to autonomy. I like the idea of less deaths, just not the idea of no cars driven by man at all.

 

 

Tebogo Moropa

Petrolheadhub 2017

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Era of the Super hatch

The battle of the hot hatches has always been there from the original golf mk1 to where it is today. The development of this battle has allowed for a brand new class, a league if you will, The Super Hatch.

The Super hatch class is comprised of hatch back with ordinary capacity engines that have been maxed out to their ultimate performance capabilities. The kings of the battleground are the Audi RS3, Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, as well as the underdog Ford Focus RS.

asc-legendapos-timestamp-20150413161031-audi-9097-audi-9097-fotosThe Audi RS3 -a beast from the Audi RS range – with an output figure of 360bhp and torque figures of well over 450n.m at full burst by the 2.5 litre turbocharged five cylinder engine . The RS3 is styled with a racing edge as the driver is well held by the racing inspired bucket seats and the leather wrapped steering console. The RS3 costs a whopping R780 000, which is the most expensive of the contenders. For all that money, it should be the quickest, right?

We then come to the most must luxurious of them all, The Mercedes-Benz A45, a pocket rocket known for its glorious gear changing noise. The A45 AMG is capable of keeping up with many of the elite super cars with its petite 2 litre four-cylinder turbocharged inline engine producing figures just under 380bhp, from a 2 litre engine!With a price tag just under the RS3, it is still able to maintain the same top speed as the RS3. The A45 comes standard with the most opulent package from the Mercedes line to give the driver a really homely and comfortable feel at the wheel of this beast. All that luxury but is it the best of the three?

imagesThen came the underdog, The new kid on the block, Ford’s glorious version of a super hatch, the Focus RS. The beast only available in the Ford RD Blue is a straight street fighter, stripped of all unnecessary equipment. Built to be fast cheaper and ultimately better than any other hatch back on the market today. The Ford with a top speed of 268km/h, 20km/h more the than the RS3 and the A45, is well underpowered with an engine output of 345bhp at 440n.m of torque. The Focus is as well cheaper the the rest as it comes at a petty R690 000 for a car built with the racing pedigree at heart. The Focus even comes with an AK-47 exhaust mode, which stimulates the car into a mode of backfiring whenever the turbos from the 2 litre inline four cylinder enngine spool down just as an anti-lag measure. Built with racing in its veins but what does that even mean?01-Foto-Ford-Focus-RS-2016

Well all three are amazing, glorious at that but only one can be the victor. To the avid petrol head that is a very difficult decision to make but you see from the point of the regular Joe and Amanda it all depends on a preference and taste as all three are strong in their own right. All there is to end this is to note that a beast is a beast and there ain’t no doubt about it.

 

“Life is too short to drive slow,

too short to drive boring

And too short to drive the ordinary.”

-Koketso Washington Mahlangu

Smoking ain’t that bad

Motorsport comes in multiple forms. Cars in all shapes and sizes. It’s beautiful really. A buffet of adrenaline as you would call it. But there’s one in particular that caught my eye and funny enough my smile.

Drifting

These days cars aren’t really what they used to be 15 years ago. Today it’s basically 60% ecu and 40% actual car. You can’t get away with a lot these days without having interference from the car. 

The problem came in when cars were from getting from point A to B.
Anybody can put their foot down and go fast in a straight line, but it takes a special kind of breed to PURELY do it around a corner. And when I say purely, I mean purely. No stability control, no traction control, no driver aids whatsoever! 

That! That is what I call the pure essence of Motorsport. That is what It really means to feel the adrenaline of being truly alive
Old cars are perfect for such hooligan activities. Especially when it comes to the late 90s early 00s JDM imports. They’re light , rear-wheel-drive and the engines are modifiable as a _____ .
I’ll have to sidestep a bit to tell you about the JDM market, I’ll be glad to in fact. JDM stands for Japanese Domestic Market, this refers to cars and car parts. It particularly became boomin when Japan picked their game up by dropping cars like the Early generations of the GTR , the Supra, the 240sx and the likes. JDM cars were particularly loved for their engines, they came with an instruction manual that had blank pages. Endless possibilities was the name of the game when it came to tuning in the late 90s and early 00s. 
Back to drifting. Basically drifting is the art of making going around a corner look like an art form. You get what usually is a rear wheel drive car and you go into a corner sideways, by means of gassing a bit more than you should in order to get the car to oversteer and throughout the corner you synchronise your clutch, brake and accelerator work to seamlessly string in and out of bends with as much accuracy as possible.
Drifting isn’t for the weak. It takes time and dedication to be able to manipulate a tuned, bareback car to do as you say. It’s more of a skill really. The ability to be able to look at a corner and to decide what gear you should be in, how much throttle to let in and when to pop the clutch, all of which happens in split second and has to be admired.
Now Formula drift is America’s way of giving back to the world. What they did is that they took drifting, added a lot of sponsors and made it an official Motorsport recognised with all its rules and what not. Basically you have two drivers on the track and The lead driver will set the pace and driving line often trying to produce a gap between themselves and the following driver. The following driver will try to stay on top of the lead driver as close as possible without making contact with their vehicle. The goal is to mimic or “shadow” the lead drivers run while staying on their door throughout the run. That’s everything in a nutshell, for once you can rely on a wiki page.
In a nutshell. Drifting is a whole new way of experiencing cars and Motorsport. A way that can bring a smile to any car fanatic, really it’s all about the way it’s executed. Do it right and even the most modest of petrolheads will go insane.  
Tebogo Moropa

Did you say Manual or Flappy paddle ?

​The question has become more and more frequently asked: ‘Manual or flappy paddle(DSG) transmission?’
Well let’s first dive into how they both work and differ. The conventional manual transmission is comprised of a clutch pedal and a gear selector knob. The driver “manually” engages the clutch, select the gear which they want to enter the release the clutch. This is a more ‘intmate’ way of driving as it requires more attention and effort. This transmission is seen as rather ancient.
The ‘new’ generation of transmissions is the flappy paddle (DSG) transmission. This is comprised of a gear selector knob which select the basic gears just as in a automatic, (Drive, Neutral, Park and Reverse), it also has a pair of paddles situated behind the steering wheel which change gears either up or down depending on which is pulled. This transmission is comprised of two clutch plates and when a paddle is pulled instead of selecting a gear like in a manual, the next clutch plate is used, this is is because each clutch plate holds a set of Gear ratios, one holding the odd numbers and the other holding the even. This is a much faster way of changing gears.


Well now that we know how they work let’s try break down which is best. The Manual transmission is much more fun as it has you more active in the vehicle it also allows the turbo charged cars to release pressure in the turbo allowing for an amazing sound. Unfortunately manual is slower to accelerate as the driver is one to figure out the clutch release time etc. The Manual transmission is however much cheaper to maintain when things go wrong. The Flappy paddle transmision is much more faster and because the clutch is released and handle by a separate ECU for the transmission you can have the accelerator all the way down from the start. This transmission also releases a amazing noise from the exhaust system this due to the fact that you have the accelerator down when the gear change is taking place so there is a somewhat overflow of fuel in the engine that is flushed out through the pipes combusting just before exiting due to the heat in the exhaust system. This transmission is much way more expensive to maintain as it has twice the mechanical components as the manual and requires a seperate service.
So which do I think is best you ask…? Well I would rather have the Manual transmission any day of the week. It’s just sad that this transmission is being flushed out by car manufacturers. But petrol heads will always find a way to make them work.
“Life is too short to drive slow,

too short to drive boring

And too short to drive the ordinary.”

-Koketso Washington Mahlangu

To drive or not to drive


By Tebogo Moropa

This one is a love or hate topic really, autonomous driving explains itself really. It’s when you add a bunch of 1s and 0s to the ECU along with some sensors and optical recognition software to get the car to handle itself, basically rendering the driver a dummy. I’m just gonna say it straight off the bat that I don’t like it, I don’t like it one bit. See, petrol heads are a dying breed, there’s less and less of us as technology takes over cars and eventually we’ll end up extinct. What would kill us? Our very own passion, well, the lack of it.

There’s a quote by Jeremy Clarkson that reads : ” it’s what non car people don’t get, they see cars as a ton and a half or two of wires, glass, metal and rubber, and that’s all they see. People like you and I know we have an unshakeable belief that cars are living entities. You can develop a relationship with a car and that’s what non car people don’t get.” When a car has foibles and won’t handle properly, that gives it a particularly human qualities because it makes mistakes and that’s how you can build a relationship with cars that other people don’t get. ” in my personal opinion every car has a different personality, some are more aggressive than others, some are for speeding, others for going sideways and others for drifting. All of this is enhanced and this personality is invoked by modifying the car in one way or another. It’s in this tweaking and teasing that you give the car a personality that you fall in love with. The point of cars shouldn’t be getting you from point A to B. It’s about the distance between A and B that matters. And once you remove the driver you remove a certain factor from the equation. Call me old schooled but I for one am anti autonomous driving. It’s starting off with self parking, lane and distance control. Where’s it gonna end?

I don’t wanna have to go to a museum to show my grandchild what a proper car is, well.. was. My ultimate gear grinder is the fact that if it continues it’ll evolve and grow to a point where licences are irrelevant. One day a kid will never experience the feeling of executing a wheel spin start wether on purpose or not. They’ll never experience the shaky knee effect of driving a manual on your own for the first time, nor will they experience the thrill of stealing the car one night to go for a joyride and breaking a few speed limits.

I’m writing this with a sore heart not of what autonomous driving is but what it can cause, the end of our kind.

Tebogo Moropa.

Petrolheadhub 2016

The block of life

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Naturally aspirated V12s, a dying breed

The internal combustion engine has come a long way from 3 bhp, when first enqineered, to the the current levels of 3000 bhp with top speeds of well over 400 kph, but what is this thing we petrol heads call a engine?

Well the combustion engine is really just a air pump. This pump uses the force of the air to turn the drive train, creating motion. Spark, fuel, and air, the most basic components to the engine. The engine is composed of the main engine aluminium block, inlet and outlet manifold for the oxygen, pistons and a crankshaft to induce the motion, spark plugs to create spark, valves, injectors control the flow of petrol.

What happens in a engine is that air is forced into the engine through the inlet manifold into the combustion chamber. This flow of air is directly proportional to the amount of fuel entering the combustion chamber. The fuel and air mix, a spark is created and we have our “combustion”. During this combustion, the pistons are forced down allowing the crank shaft to be rotated. The burnt mixture is then sent out of the engine using the outlet manifold ,exhaust if you will. Oh and take not that these rotations dont just take place at granny pace but rather happen at about 5000 revolutions per minute, on average during that is. All of which controlled by the car’s ECU unit.

Petrol heads like myself don’t see this as enough to give us the feel of excitement when speeding down the fast lane of the highway. Thus the new generation of petrol heads has figured out hundreds of ways to make our engines pump the air in and out at a much faster rate, ultimately making the engine output much more power. These methods are through fitting chargers, exhasut sytems, improved drivetrains and much more.

The engine really is a work of beauty and continues to develop at a rather rapid rate. The internal combustion engine is the only block full of happiness and excitement to the petrol heads and junkies of the world.

“Life is too short to drive slow,
too short to drive boring
And too short to drive the ordinary.”
-Koketso Washington Mahlangu