Test Drive: 2017 VW Golf SportWagen 4motion

Ohhh, forgot about the test drives. Still to come, the Subaru Forester (2017) and Chevrolet Colorado (2016 w/”TrailBlazer” package) (oh, and the Ford F150 I wrote and once again forgot to post). However, we also looked at the 2017 VW Golf SportWagen TSI 4motion. And most of what I would have said is here, in The Truth About Cars review of the 2017 VW Golf SportWagen TSI 4motion: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/01/2017-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-4motion-review/ at least in terms of the mechanical. Canada (TTAC’s writer is in Ohio for this review) gets the full spread of options on the 4motion SportWagen.

I also forgot to take pictures. I’m not good at this.

What I’ll add is this:

Given the price I was quoted, I would have bought this car. The deal was spectacular, considering the feature list (Trendline, if you want to look it up on the VW.ca webpage). Better than a base Forester, and nearly $13,000 less than the currently-leading-the-pack Honda Ridgeline Sport. I may yet buy this car, a year or two down the road, as my own daily driver, as the Genesis becomes less and less a day-to-day car. I really really like it.

However, Janine doesn’t. She felt the roofline was somewhat encroaching on her. That’s due, I think, in large part, that she’s used to the 2005 Forester’s soaring roofline and nearly vertical windshield – even in the Genesis Coupe, it’s not as pronounced because you sit down into the ‘coupe, rather than onto the Golf and Forester. I think she’d get used to it, and would be fine if it was “once in a while” (ie. My daily driver, and her having something else) but the vehicle we buy now is going to be primarily hers, so she’s gotta love it. And she doesn’t.

She also noted the sideview mirrors were pretty small. Again, I didn’t notice this, but I adapt pretty quickly.

What I loved? It’s a CAR, not an SUV. But it’s got all the space. Holy god, does it ever. And, the TSI 1.8L Turbo is no slouch, especially attached to the 6spd dualclutch transmission. It’s a fantastic combination as a driver. Seating position, comfort of the seats, etc, all typically German – excellent, and driver-centric. Visibility is great, too – it’s a wagon.

Indifferent? The entertainment system does what’s on the box. It’s perfectly adequate, as is the stereo. As with all things German, it’s a sea of grey and black inside. I’d rather a manual (which the US is getting as an option, so maybe we will too?) option.

What I didn’t love? VW’s 4motion is still a haldex “slip’n’grip” unlike Subaru’s AWD. I didn’t get to test it out in slippery conditions, though, and I know people who are thoroughly happy with previous generations of the 4motion system. It’s just not the BEST option.

If you’re looking, this is a great car. It’s got tons of space (pretty equivelent to a compact SUV (think Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, Hyundai Tucson) and is notably bigger than the hatchbacks it’ll get lumped in with (Subaru Impreza, Hyundai Elantra GT, Chevrolet Cruze hatchback, Honda Civic Hatchback, etc), AWD, and car-handling. Skip the “Alltrack” version. At a base of $36,000cdn, all you’re really buying is some plastic bodycladding and taller springs. It starts at the top-trim level of the standard sportwagen, which is why the price is high. My advice would be to skip the alltrack, get the 4motion wagon, and maybe the midlevel trim (I can never remember if that’s comfortline or trendline). For the “arounD $33k out the door” price I saw, that’s a pretty spectacular deal on a family hauler these days, if you don’t have to show the neighbours how big your….. SUV…. Is.

It would approach perfection with a manual transmission (and the accompanying $1400 price drop) and some deep bronze flake paint, and some sticky summer tires (with alternate aggressive winter tires).

Yeah, I’d buy this. I really would. And eventually, may even. If the manual option does appear, it becomes the unicorn of the car world – a manual, brown, all-wheel drive, turbo, wagon. Gives me the shivers, does that. Ooooh, Nelly.

Slouching Onwards to Automotive… Somthing or other.

It’s been that kind of summer. Between finally getting to the track and some general meandering around the province, I’ve put about 9000km on the ‘coupe this summer. That’s actually a big deal for me, as I commute to work by bike, so during the week, it’s not unusual for me to not even start the car for four or five days. Basically, all that mileage is cottage runs, and cruises.

The track wasn’t high mileage (obviously) but 90 minutes at basically wide-open throttle (I kid you not, I could WATCH the gas gauge drop) is hard mileage. So, I’ve ended up with a few more oil changes than usual during the summer too.

There’s just time for two more, as well – Right now, I need an oil change and then I’ll need one again next month.

Next month, you say? That’s crazy talk, three months for oil changes is the norm.

Except.

September27th, I leave for Tail of the Dragon.

It is 1686km one way. Tail of the Dragon (Deal’s Gap) is in Tennessee. I’ve no idea how much mileage I’ll do there, but then it’s 1686km home, as well. I figure that the bare minimum I’ll do in those five or six days is 4000km.

Now, THAT’S a driving vacation.

And right now, a bunch of you are muttering to yourselves that I’m nuts. And I’m not sure you’re wrong. But, with the help of someone who’s done it before, I’ve got a route that, while slightly longer, runs through some very scenic country that isn’t downtown Detroit.

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That should be some pretty glorious driving, even if it is fifteen hours worth. Each way.

Before that, though, I’ve gotta I had to deal with the car. (Had to – Ummm, I was gonna post this Friday afternoon, and it’s now Monday morning. Whattayagonnado?)

Like I said, oil change. that’s actually scheduled for 2pm Friday – Finally, I’ve hit my last “included” oil-change (20 of them at time of purchase, 7.5 years ago). Once that’s done, it sounds like Friday tonight was going to be burgers’n’shakes (and it was), our weekly car crew get-together. Saturday morning, I was up at 7am, and in the garage.

What’s on the agenda?

First, brakes. You’ve all read by now the Post-trackday work I had with the brakes. And through the awesomeness of friends, that got me back to “driveable”. I want better than that for the Dragon, though. So, I ordered up some EBC YellowStuff pads:

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I’ve also got OEM rotors for the back brakes, that are fresh(er than my R1 Concepts ones), and that combination should be prettty good.

once that’s done, I definitely have to change the brake fluid. It would have been nice to do steel lines, but that’s going to be part of the winter upgrade – I don’t have the cash or time right now.

I hate bleeding brakes. Passionately. So, I’m kinda hoping I’ll have some help for it. We’ll see how that goes. I’m pretty sure I can manage, I won’t be trying to get bubbles out of the system, just trying to clear the old and refill with new, so I don’t REALLY anticipate any problems.

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It’s not rocket surgery, after all. Also, found a “one man bleeder kit” at Canadian Tire, and that was $8 well spent, as far as I’m concerned. No bubbles from what I could see, and all the fluid was coming out clear, and clean…. after a few good pumps. #notaeuphemism.

After that, the car is basically good to go. If I have time, I’ll probably pull the AEM DryFilter, and wash it, along with the hydroshield. I have to remove the front bumper for that. While the bumper’s off, I want to tighten up the lip as well – since I realigned it, it seems to move around some. I’m not really worried about it falling off, but I’d like it not to scratch what’s left of my paint. So, if I get time for that, that’s on the agenda too.

Tire pressures will be set. To factory. Because that’s what you do.

After all that, interior cleaning and set-up. I’m going to have a ton of electronics charging in the car – multiple (GPS, four… maybe? Five? go-pros, a pair of Uniden walkie-talkies, my phone, oh, and my regular-issue dashcam.

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How to run all that?

Mount a 12V splitter – I have a stack of 12v dual-2.1a-USB sockets, which are perfect for charging pretty much anything, I just need enough 12v sockets to plug everything in. the only trick will be “where to mount the splitter”. So, I guess THAT’S on the agenda, too.

Actually, ended up being fairly easy:

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At the same time, I ran my longest USB cable under the console, and out the back, into the back seat. I want to do a video of the entire drive down, then speed it up, and set it to music – 1700km in 6 minutes or so. We’ll see how that works out. But I’m mounting it way in the back, rather than just in the windshield, so that, hopefully, it’s a little more interesting and personal. I think Andyman is going to do an exterior camera for this, so it’ll be interesting to see the differences.

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Roadtrips. They’re just the same and very different from what they used to be. All I used to take was a couple of big, spiral-ring map-books. And most people thought that was too much, too. Apparently, wifi/connectivity is hard to come by once we actually GET to TotD, but I’ll be posting as I go/when we stop. If you’ve any interest in the along-the-way antics and any updates I can do from Fontanta Village itself, feel free to follow me on @boozysmurf on Twitter, and/or @b00zysmurf on Instagram.

Car Stuff – Wherein My “Season” Ends Early

Last week was awesome. I finally got the car to the point where a] I could have the spacers on and b] only scrape the tires on the liners/tabs on the most major bumps. That’s actually a win. I think if I push the stiffness a little further, I can eliminate it altogether. The scraping, not the stiffness.

Which means my summer set-up is currently:

F: 19×8 +15mm 245/35R19
R: 19×9.5 +15mm 275/35R19

It’s very nice. Ride height finally, is probably in the range of two inches of drop (rather than the nearly 3.5″ I had to start with) and I’ve gotten the pre-load almost sorted out too (although a little more, especially in the front, probably has worth).

Last Sunday (the 16th of August) was Torque Modified in Bowmanville. At the same time, @thirtyyearhouse needed to be at her family’s cottage in Carnavon (where I was joining her after the show). So.

Friday – 160km roundtrip to drop the dog off at the dogsitter
Saturday – 360km to Carnavon from Ottawa, 160 to Bowmanville from Carnavon
Sunday – 7am out to Torque Modified, 10 hours in the parking lot, 160km to Carnavon
Monday – nothin’
Tuesady – 360km Carnavon to Ottawa, 160km roundtrip to pick up Dog
Wednesady, Thursday – Nothin’
Friday – 360km Ottawa to Picton
Saturday – 80km roundtrip to Sandbanks
Sunday – 360km Picton to Ottawa

Hunh. So, that’s actually over 2000km. With more accurate measures, probably exactly 2000ish. Yes. Exactly, ish.

The show was fantastic fun, I’ll admit. Not because I won (I was never gonna win anything, my car is NOT show level, by any means). But it was fun to hang with a ton of guys I talk to online regularly, and see rarely. The show itself was a fantastic mix of Hotrod, classic restoration, resto-rod, Modern Muscle, Tuner cars, and Import modified. No hate from anywhere and some truly amazing vehicles. But, it’s easier to show you, right?

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The run back up to the cottage was amazing too, and so was the run home. I just love DRIVING the Genesis, still, after six and a half years.

So, what’s the issues?

Well, a portion of the lip is cracked now. I think I can fix that, but it’s going to take me some time, and I’m gonna have to pull the front end off to get at it. Not a big deal these days, but it’s still a bunch of work.

The rear tires are still scraping on the tabs inside the fenders where the bumper cover joins the body. Again, not often, and not badly, but it’s still there. I think just a little more adjustment (some more pre-load, a little more stiffness, and another turn of height) will do the job. It’s primarily happening when the car is loaded down, so the pre-load will definitely help. And doing all this will put me closer to next years goal of going to the track.

At the same time, I did the front brakes with some nice, but affordable, parts from R1 Concepts, a few years back. At the time, we looked at the rears, and there was no real point doing them: they were pristine. Now, after 6.5 years of spirited driving, they are less so. A little grindy when you get aggressive, and the rotors are visibly scored. I’ve had the parts sitting around for three years, so it’s a matter of doing them. But I don’t want to go far, until I do them, for safety’s sake. As I’ll have the wheels off to mess with the suspension, I might as well do ’em then.

On top of that, the clutch is finally getting really bad. I think.

But here’s the thing. At this point, it might be the clutch (and again, I have one waiting, a stage 2 Competition Clutch. I just need a good clutch line (might as well do it while I’ve got everything apart) and a throwout bearing (a definite must do while the clutch is out). But it also might be the exhaust. The car is six and a half years old, and the stock engine/tune runs rich, and, due to turbo, blows some oil. Nature of the beast, not worried about it. BUT. I have feeling the stock catalytic converter is almost done, and is causing issues of restriction: the hesitation I can feel when I got wide-open with the throttle could be the clutch, except I’m not seeing the revs jump and then fall, except at high-gear, high load. So I’m wondering if it’s the back pressure building up behind a jammed up catalytic converter, that’s just not flowing as well as it used to. At the same time, I KNOW I’ve got an exhaust leak at the gasket between the catalytic and downpipe, and I think that’s a combination of a downpipe flange that wasn’t as well manufactured as it could have been, and worn catalytic converter studs.

Which means it’s time for a new catalytic converter.

The options there are … very few, actually. I could go with a stock one: as I want to tune the car next year, finally, I’d need to have it modified with a wideband sensor bung. Smarter is aftermarket, high-flow: still emissions compliant (which was always my goal) but comes with the necessary sensor bungs (stock O2’s, Wideband), and flows more, faster. That means more power. I like more power. The options there are incredibly limited, because most people just ditch the catalytics completely, and run an open, catless O2 housing. I don’t wanna do that. Technically, CPE makes a high flow stock replacement, but the only place I can find it is Uniq performance. The other (cheaper) option is out of Toronto as well: Ultimate Racing makes a high-flow replacement for the stock cat on the 2.0T Genesis, and it’s affordable. Thing is, despite them being Canadian, I don’t know how affordable, because their pricing is in US Dollars. I understand why: most of their business will come out of the states, online. But it does mean I have to contact them directly to get a price on what I need. Still, looks to be about 2/3 to half the price of the CPE unit, which is dandy by me!

What this means, is, in the TL-DR version I currently have issues with:

-Brakes
-lip/body
-clutch
-suspension rubbing
-exhaust
-and nearly worn-out tires

Which means I’m done for the season. Which takes the

The Most Basic of Tools

Fortunately, I DO have a hammer. in fact, I have several of them. I have a garden variety hammer, for the nails, and occasionally bending screws, and breaking through drywall. I have a marvelous rubber mallet, which works for delicate bashing (it happens) and banging the hell out of whatever prying device I happen to be using (a prybar and mallet is my favorite way to separate things that are fastened together: like floorboards). And then there’s the BFH. Yes, the Big. Fucking. Hammer. In this case, a 3lb thumper which is really best for making things submit to my will, in a way the other two never manage. I mean, it’s not a sledgehammer.

But it is the one-handed equivalent.

And, turns out, with a 2×4 held in place, after I’d removed the exhaust, it’s the best tool to flatten the body-lip on the car so it doesn’t bang on the exhaust anymore (or the exhaust doesn’t bang on it, which is the more accurate statement).

Not bad. 10 minutes to put the car in the air, on jack stands, 10 minutes to pull the mufflers (which was as far as I needed to go back) and flatten the ridge on the body, and 10 minutes to put the cans back on, and button it all up, and drop the car down again.

If I had a hammer

DONE. Or, rather, at that point, not done.

Genesis Coupe: Upgrade Season Comes Once Again, with a Roadtrip, and Strange Occurances, wherein I Develop the Love of ATQ Products

Got that? Hah. I’m the king of the run-on subject line.

Ok, so, I’m going to give you two versions. I’ll give you the long, whole-weekend version, and the TL:DR version. I’m even going to be nice, and give you the TL:DR version first.

TL:DR

As part of a weekend trip to Southern Ontario, I dropped by ATQ . ATQ is relatively new on the market in terms of parts for the genesis coupe, but working with some pretty illustrious names in the community: ie. Snoopy. So, when SketchedOut asked if I was gonna come along to meet the owner, Tomi, I pretty much couldn’t say no.

SketchedOut was having (as I ended up doing) both the front, oval shifter bushings, rear shifter linkage bushing, and rigid collars installed on his 2013 Genesis Coupe. I have a 2010: there’s some minor differences. I’ll make this very simple, and in all caps.

IF YOU OWN A MANUAL GENESIS COUPE, GO BUY THE LINKED PRODUCTS ABOVE, IF YOU OWN AN AUTOMATIC, GET THE RIGID COLLARS NOW. Not only is Tomi a fiend for quality and details, he does his homework, and makes the best product possible, for the best price possible. Driving home with all of these items installed was eye-opening to say the least.

The Shifter: The shift in the Genesis, 3.8 or 2.0T is sloppy to say the least. The combination of the front and rear bushings tighten the whole linkage up, making the shifts tighter, more precise and accurate, and generally don’t feel like you’re flailing through the gearbox, but actually selecting a gear. I can’t wait to get my hands on his next batch of short shifter. Why? Because it’s the only one on the market that keeps it all “right”. Need to know what I mean? Go watch Snoopy’s review:

The Rigid Collars: This is where things reall get good. For the price, this is on a par, as a handling and car-feel upgrade, with the (stock on GT/Track/Rspec) $60 strut-tower brace. You can watch what rigid collars do here. I was going to link to a short description, but they were all for competitors sites, so go watch Snoopy’s video, because, yeah. . Now, I had some issues, which will be delved into in the Too Long version, but, as a whole, the car feels much tighter than it did before: Enough so that I’m not sure my shocks/struts are completely done yet. They still bear replacing, for sure, but with the chassis being better sorted out, I can put them off again a little bit. Which is nice. I don’t get the slamming and cracking feeling over rough roads that I had been getting, and the steering has a much better, more on-target feel to it. For the price, you simply cannot do better than this upgrade. If you drive a 2010 Genesis Coupe, however, especially an early build, you’ll want to read the Too Long version (coming soon to a blog near you). In the meantime, hit up ATQ and get these bits ordered. Just stay away from the short shifter, because they only make so many at a time, and I want to make sure I get mine. My preciousssssssssssss.

That’s it for the TL:DR review. I had planned on just diving into the “how the weekend really went” version, BUT, I’m going to separate that into another post. It never goes easy for me, BECAUSE REASONS.

Having Fun With Cars You Don’t Own.

So, this week, the girlfriend is out at her dad’s place: took the dog with her, and, is planning on doing some driving, with her dad. She needs to practice up, because license testing is coming soon. So, I left the 2005 Subaru Forester out there at her request. Now, it’s a forty-five minute drive back to town, so how do I get there?

Her dad gives me the keys to his 2011 Subaru WRX.

This is not a bad deal at all!

Look, I’m a respectful guy with other people’s cars (and there’s no snow to go sliding on), but it is really interesting driving this little pocket rocket. And make no mistake, it is a rocket. Some will swear that you must have the STI, but I’ll be honest: the WRX itself is way more car than the average person needs.

Comparitively, the WRX sits on a 2.5 turbo, 5speed manual transmission, making 265hp and 244lb.ft of torque. The WRX STI runs a same-displacement 2.5L Turbo, a six speed transmission, and 305hp/290lb.ft of torque. Given the car is the same, otherwise? Yeah, the STI is faster.

But I don’t really see the “need” for the extra of the STI, especially the (reputedly: I’ve not driven an STI) over-hardened suspension, which makes long trips painful, and adds, by all reports, about twenty percent more handling ability… at the absolute top of the envelope. The average driver? Gonna be super happy with the WRX.

Which comes to my impressions.

I’m digging it. I’ve always said I’d like one, but this really just confirms it. It’s ridiculously quick: forget about 0-60mph times: if you put your foot in it at 30km/h in second, you’ll be breaking the law moments later. Like, in a ‘lose your license’ kind of way. The biggest issue for me is coming from my Genesis Coupe, the 5MT vs the 6MT: I keep thinking I should be up a gear (because in teh ‘coupe, I would be) but the WRX is happy to lope around town in second gear, at 50km/h, getting 7L/100km on the instant readout, and is IMMEDIATELY ready, and in the boost, if you need to stand on it.

And you will need to stand on it. Because you’ll invent reasons to stand on it.

It’s a lot quicker than my coupe. For the moment. The spec on the coupe, right now, is about 200hp/220lb.ft of torque (at the wheels: on paper it’s 223hp/225lb.ft or so) I give up half-a-litre in displacement, so no real surprise there. The big difference is the extra gear: I find first gear is really difficult to get into hard, where in the Subaru, it’s extremely useful and you can run around on suburb roads in first at 25-30km/h without feeling like you’re stressing the car. The ‘coupe on the other hand is screaming at 30km/h in 1st. The WRX, despite the really nice and taut suspension that inspires confidence, is really compliant around town. My lowered, stiffened (and yes, blown strut-wearing) coupe? Less so at the moment. I assume more like the STI, honestly.

In fact, the gear ratio thing is interesting.

That explains a lot, don’t it?
The WRX is a car I could live with every day. There’s a useable back seat, and a good trunk for the class: the hatchback and folding seats are a bonus at that point.

The turbo whine from the WRX is FANTASTIC. This is a sound I recommend whole heartedly… unless you like fuel economy. Because you won’t get any making that sound happen at wide-open-throttle.

The only downside to the WRX is… no one looks at me. I’ve gotten used to (and enjoy) the looks and comments my ‘coupe gets.

So, in the WRX vs Genesis Coupe sexy battle? The WRX loses. Badly. The coupe is just sexy as hell.

The WRX does feel tight inside, too. Not small tight, but well put together tight. In a way my ‘coupe doesn’t. Now, that has changed from what I’ve seen of the ’12, and especially ’13 coupes. But my ‘first year’ model… yeah, it’s got some creaks and groans. In fact, it’s in the shop getting an oil change, and hopefully, the squeak in the seat diagnosed and fixed (under warranty). With similar mileage (albeit two years younger) the WRX feels better put together.

I’d buy a WRX. In fact, I may buy a WRX. Not now, but if I decide I want a fun daily-driver that I can winter easily? it’s going to be right at the top of my list, without a doubt. The holy grail would be, honestly, a 2008 Forester XT (WRX engine, manual transmission, and most of the suspension, but with more room inside), but an Impreza/WRX would definitely do the job.

Because Winter Racecar.

Shootin’ Cars (Redux)

We did actually get out on Thursday night to get some pics of the cars. What we ended up with was three 2013 2.0T Hyundai Genesis Coupes, two 2010 2.0T Hyundai Genesis Coupes, and unexpectedly, a (and I’m guessing at the year here) 2012 Nissan 370z. After meeting at Timmies, we had planned to hit the Lock House at hogsback (nice open lot, access to the grass right next to the lock) but found that that was being used as parking for DragonBoat practice. So, we headed out to the NAVCAN driveway I’d shot at befre.

I took a little GoPro video too: I was planning on just stockpiling that footage (all shooting backwards from my car, as I led the caravan to the location), but I’ve had requests to put it up, so I’ll look into doing some editing, and see what I can do. I’ve not done any video editing yet, so this should be an experience.

Once we got where we were going, the light was great, so we started shooting. We moved the cars around a bit, too, so we could shoot them as groups, and as individuals. I’m going to be posting the pics up on my photoblog, OneHeadlight, but here’s a teaser, so to speak:

The Hardest White

I will say this, I was particularly happy with one or two shots, especially the black & whites. I have a fairly contrast-heavy style, and that’s evident whether color or b&w, but this one shot… well, you’ll have to judge for yourself.

Again, check out the photography blog for details.

What I do want to do is get out hit some of the other locations. I’m definitely in a photographic mood at the moment. I should also bang out and check out the weekly car shows again, as there are some brilliant cars out there, from true classics, to muscle, to modern and import. Maybe tomorrow night at the Rideau Carleton Slots show….