Michelin invited beyond.ca to the beautiful New England State of Vermont. We were hosted by the awesome team from Michelin Canada and Michelin USA. They brought their tire engineers, product managers, regional managers and public relations folks to introduce us to Michelin’s newest truck tire offering, the Michelin Defender LTX M/S.
In a previous article, I explained the rationale behind the new Michelin Defender LTX M/S. It’s now time to talk about what it is like to drive with these fine tires from Michelin.
I recently had the privileged of driving a car that most people can only dream of driving. Sure, you can pay a sum of money and head to LA or Las Vegas and rent one for a few laps, but those types of experiences are all about thrill seeking. When you get the opportunity to drive an exotic super-car, you take it and enjoy every moment of it.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of what makes up a 650S. That type of information can be found on the internet. Lets talk about how the car looks and feels.
The 650S literally looks like the bridge design between where McLaren production cars started and where they are now. The front is all P1 / 570S and the rear is all MP4-12C. The car is striking. I really love the front of the car. It’s aggressive and unique without being arrogant. The rear of the car is all business. It’s neat, tidy and functional. The high mounted exhaust exits are perfectly placed and convey that the 650S is no ordinary car. Some say it is the face-lift of the 12C, but other say it is a step up bringing it closer to the P1.
I’m in lust again. Her name is W205. She comes from a family named Mercedes and the family crest is a 3 pointed star. She comes from a long line of well groomed sedans. It started in 1982 when Mercedes released a small saloon (sedan for us North Americans) under the 190 moniker. The W201 was the beginning of the entry level sedan for Mercedes. 2015 brings us the 5th generation, the W205.
The C-Class has remained much the same size until now. It has grown in every dimension and grown up in style. The interior has improved dramatically in the W205 and offers amenities that were only seen on E-Class or higher vehicles. The growth is evident in the longer wheelbase that allows real leg room for rear passengers when the front is adjusted for my driving position. In the W204, I either had to compromise my leg room, or only allow children to sit behind me when loading up the car.
It’s not often one gets handed the keys to a million dollar car. Well in this case, about 1.6 million, but who’s counting? It’s ironic that I’m the one that gets to write about this supercar. You see, I’m not exactly a fan of Ferrari. Don’t get me wrong, Ferrari makes some great sports cars, but I’m a diehard McLaren fan in the sport of Formula 1 and Ferrari has been our biggest rival over the checkered history of the two teams.
For me, driving a Ferrari is akin to a Red Sox fan wearing a Yankees jersey or, something closer to home, a Flames fan sporting Oilers gear. It’s obvious that the owner of this car has a good sense of humor, as he suggested that I close off our Summer Series by taking his F50 for a day. I promised to be open minded about the experience. Hell, I even wore a red shirt to pick up the car.
I spend a lot of time on various car forums on the internet, and I always enjoy clicking on the car comparison threads because they bring me the most amount of enjoyment. You see, I love watching people argue on the internet, as long as I’m not involved. Car comparisons always have good intentions to begin with, on the internet or in real life, but they typically end in a shit show of fanboys trying to justify why their prized possession is better than someone else who owns a competing model. I have a theory which explains why this happens.
It’s very simple, the theory is that there are only 3 personality types that describe every car enthusiast in the world. While everyone is primarily 1 of these 3 types, they can dabble in the other categories but, in the end, they will argue to the end based on their primary personality. Let’s break it down.
Before we start, I need to apologize for being late. Partly due to real life getting in the way, but mostly due to the fact that I struggled to write this. My theme for this article was going to be “Growing up and growing old”. I was going to walk you through Benyl’s completely normal car history, where he threw whatever cheap mods he could to make his car stand out, regardless of whether or not they made the car any better. We were going to bring back memories of him crashing at the track (or on the streets) by driving like an idiot. We’d transition into his actual adulthood, where he owns a sensible home and drives a sensible wagon.
Problem is, none of those things are true. Benyl was born a 50 year old man and his cars have gotten consistently more powerful from the factory as time goes on. He didn’t really mod his cars until a money shift destroyed his STI’s engine and he was going to have to pay for a new one anyway. Even then, he built it right the first time.
I remember seeing my first Lamborghini Countach in person like it was yesterday. It was the fall of 1982, and sitting across from the street from our Los Angeles hotel under some lush palm trees was a pristine white Countach that looked exactly like the posters on my wall. This was my first trip to Disneyland, and my parents were trying to rush the two kids into a cab. I refused to budge, I’ve been a car guy all my life, and seeing that Lamborghini in person was infinitely better than seeing Mickey Mouse.
What’s interesting about this Countach was that it looked very different than the later Countachs on US soil. The bumpers were clean, and didn’t have the ugly ass US spec bumpers that were necessary to pass US federal standards in later model years. The US, as well as Canada, have a completely different set of vehicle standards compared to the rest of the world. Almost everywhere else, countries follow the UNECE Harmonized Vehicle Regulations. Introduced in the late 50’s, it was a set of rules that made it much easier for international trade, and thus much cheaper for manufacturers to sell vehicles in many countries. The US and Canada were notable holdouts in this agreement, and have their own set of standards. Low volume manufacturers were effectively shut out of the North American market due to the huge costs in federalizing their vehicles.
Magazine featured project cars always look amazing on paper. Flipping through the pages of your favorite tuner magazine you’ll find an assortment of project cars that have the best parts and the best specs yet, when it comes down to it, they’re garage queens. Sure they might look like they are ready for a weekend of club racing but, most of the time, they’re destined for a life of car shows, meets, and magazine shoots. I’m not saying all project cars end up this way, but a large proportion of them do.
There’s a perfectly good reason why this is the case. Most of these projects aim to impress a reader, not a driver. Decked out with the most expensive pieces available on the market, there’s rarely a thought given to how they benefit the car. Readers drool over the Blitz intercooler without considering that the car is running 4 psi. Or maybe Zeal coilovers which have gone untuned, negatively affecting the handling compared to stock.
Being asked to drive a fun car should never cause you stress, but that’s exactly what I felt when my boss asked me to review his car. In a no-win situation comparable to “Does this make me look fat?”, I was being asked to give my opinion about rage2′s current pride and joy, the Mercedes C63 AMG Black Series.
Ah well, this gig doesn’t pay anyway.
For those that aren’t familiar with rage2′s C63 BS, here’s what you need to know. 510 hp, 457 lb-ft of torque, 3800 lbs, fender flares, matte wrap, 0-60 in 3.7s, 1/4 mile in 12 seconds flat, and a baby seat ISOFIX’d to the back seat. All for the mildly affordable starting price of $109,000. Which forces a question you’ll hear all too often on car forums and bar conversations. Why would you spend six figures on a C-class that doesn’t perform at the top of its price range? You could pick up a new GTR for the same money and literally drive circles around the C63. Ignorance and brand loyalty are the most common justifications you’ll hear but, while the latter certainly applies here (whether he’ll admit it or not), rage2 has his own reason. It’s fun.