Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The First Caucasian Homemade Vehicle (Part 1)

In the early twentieth century, the old Yerevan was only a little town. The most common form of transport were carriages in those times. However, there was an odd vehicle awkwardly rumbling through the muddy alleys of the town. Built by some Arshak in 1913, it was the first homemade car in the entire Caucasus. So, in Yerevan appeared the first car, and its master got the nickname “Avdo” (the provincial pronunciation of “Avto”, which means an auto or, simply, a car in English).

As for “Avdo”, very little is known about him. He had secondary education received in tsarist Russia. Having reached manhood, he became an avid techie, to which the periodicals named “Motor” and “Automobil” contributed largely. Once he returned to Yerevan (1905-1906), Arshak began work on creating his own car. Since our hero did not have any engineering skills, and there was no one to ask for advice, he had to build the car in the image and likeness of the already existing and popular samples, or to be more correct, the car had to be assembled with the components taken from other stock cars. The chief goal was that the future “Frankenstein” had to be able to independently overcome long distances and have a roomy interior. At the down of motorization, the quality of cars was not particularly shining out- they constantly broke, some samples secured a place at the junkyard a few months after the acquisition. According to some reports, Arshak took seven years to travel all over the junkyards of the different Russian cities in search of necessary parts for his car.
To be continued...

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Leonid Brezhnev’s GAZ-13 “Chaika” (Part 2)

This color was chosen for practical reasons, since in regions with predominantly hot climatic conditions it would be simply unbearable to have long rides in a black vehicle.

That is why the serial number has a special prefix “1117-Ю”- the last letter in this context is from the Russian word “Южный” (Yuzhny), which means Southern, as if pointing to the fact that the car must be used in the southern regions of the great Country of the Soviets! Before each Brezhnev’s visit, the car underwent full maintenance works, which is witnessed by numerous entries in an appropriate journal secured with appropriate stamps.

In 1973 the car was discarded and was brought to Armenia. Over the next 22 years, this “Chaika” was used by several ministers and served as an official vehicle for the highest officials of the Communist party of Armenia. And finally, in 1995, the current owner, Ashot Sargsyan, managed to buy this car and keep it in pristine condition with all its technical documentation.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Leonid Brezhnev’s GAZ-13 “Chaika” (Part 1)

When, in 1971, Leonid Brezhnev visited Soviet Armenia, he couldn’t have imagined that in some two years his personal vehicle, the GAZ-13 “Chaika” built by special order of the government, would have ended up in Armenia.

The story began in 1964, when Leonid Brezhnev was elected as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In addition to his socialist fraternal kisses and bushy eyebrows, Brezhnev was also famed for his incredibly large collection of personal cars. Almost every car from Brezhnev’s collection is shrouded in legends and stories. One of those legends recounts a story of how in 1965, the Gorky Automobile Plant received a special government order to build a GAZ-13 “Chaika”, which was to be used by the leader on the territory of the governmental summer cottages in Yalta. This vehicle with a chassis serial number N1086 was virtually indistinguishable from standard samples of the GAZ-13- the only specific feature of the leader’s car was its light grey color (with rare exceptions, all “Chaikas” were painted in black color).
To be continued…

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Unusual Car of the Unusual Owners: Chrysler Imperial (Part 2)

The car was immediately purchased by the great Soviet composer Arno Babajanyan. The transport to Yerevan was arranged by someone named Vanik from Silachi (there is such a district in Yerevan).Throughout the years of service to the composer, the car was never used for the intended purpose.

Being a creative individual, Babajanyan was not a huge fan of technological progress, he was rather fascinated by the original shapes and incomparable design of this car. As for the technical side, it always remained in the background for the great maestro.

Arno Babajanyan passed away on 11 November 1983 at age 62. The story of this car could have ended with the death of the maestro, if it hadn’t been put up for sale again after 32 years. This time the owner of this magic car is our team. The car is currently is in our garage and needs undergoing extensive restoration work, which will be implemented in the near future.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Unusual Car of the Unusual Owners: Chrysler Imperial (Part 1)

It should be noted that Japan's Ambassador to the USSR had very good taste and, I believe, corresponding ambitions in the choice of official vehicles.

To my knowledge, in the 1960s and 70s of the last century, the representative of the rising sun’s country preferred to be served only with American Chrysler Imperial Le Barons of different generations, the story of two of which is known to a small circle of people. By a twist of fate, one of those cars ended up in Armenia.

The car of the Japan’s ambassador was acquired in 1963. This Imperial Le Baron was in the Moscow residence of the Ambassador until 1968 and served him for all official events. In 1968 the car was replaced by a new, more perfect, similar model. A little later, the car received regular Moscow registration plates and was put up for sale.
To be continued…

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Immortal Toyota Crown (Part 4)

This engine is aggregated with a 5-speed manual transmission.
This Toyota is one of the brightest proofs of how reliable the cars of the past and the so-called cast-iron engines were. Having a mileage of more than 1.500.000 kilometers, this engine has never been repaired! Throughout the entire running period, none of the engine details has been replaced.

The car has undergone only few repairs so far: replacement of the oil pressure gauge (2010) and water-cooling pump (2011), as well as repairs to the injection pump (2012). It’s noteworthy that this car is actively used every day and there has been no major damage to the mechanical units.
The owner of this remarkable car plans to drive from Armenia to Japan in the near future, in order to visit the headquarter of Toyota Motor Corporation. So let’s wish good luck to the organizers of this challenging run.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Immortal Toyota Crown (Part 3)

Now briefly about the technical features.
The Toyota Crown of the sixth generation was produced  between 1979 and 1983 and was offered in not only various body, but also engine modifications.  As for this model, it has a body index LS-110; moreover, the configuration even has its own name-Super Delux, which indicates the availability of an air conditioner, stereo system, electric windows and side-view mirrors, power door locks, and some other features.

The presence of a one-piece supporting frame, dependent rear axle and an economical diesel engine makes this car really distinctive. By the way, the power train of the “L” model has a capacity of 2.2 liters (2188CC), which produces 72HP and has a torque of 126 Nm. Exactly the same power train was installed on the legendary Hilux and Hiace known for their high performance and reliability on the hottest and hard-to-reach spots of our planet.
 To be continued...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Jaguar XK Roadster

Sunday morning in Perugia (Italy).
One of the desired jaguars and a cup of Italian espresso. What else do you need for happiness?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Immortal Toyota Crown (Part 2)

Now, I would like to particularly highlight one model- the Toyota Crown, an executive sedan of business class. Although little known outside the country of the rising sun, this car was in great demand on the markets of Europe and Australia. 

In the late 80s the countries of the USSR were swept by an import wave of used and relatively inexpensive right-hand-drive vehicles from Japan.  As for this car, it’s one of the first Toyotas in Armenia. It appeared in Yerevan in 1989. Having been used as a taxi cab in its homeland for about 10 years and having been driven nearly 400.000 kilometers , the car, in a sheer factory condition,  was brought to Yerevan as an everyday vehicle.
To be continued...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Immortal Toyota Crown (Part 1)

Nothing lasts forever in this world. But, are you sure about that? Try to impose this opinion on any owner of a Toyota with a diesel engine. Be sure, you will crash and burn- it’s like trying to make a primitive man to read War and Peace.

Moreover, if this is an atmospheric diesel engine, or even worse (for you), the engine belongs to the L family, your efforts will be completely wasted. Besides, you will be persuaded that these engines can run on used vegetable oils, jet fuel and all other unbelievable substances without any damage. The pity is that we, the automotive skeptics and owners of modern vehicles, will never be able to appreciate such cars. 
And indeed, there was a time when cars were built with a huge safety factor and used to be much more reliable than now. There was little use of cheap plastic and completely useless electronics. Preference was given to extremely simple and reliable designs. Nowadays, the modern market rules over the automotive industry making it simply unprofitable to produce “eternal” cars. The era of “disposable cars” makes oldies from distant 70-80s look especially exotic.
To be continued...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

ERAZ-Electro (pics)

I want to share some interesting pics related to our previous post about ERAZ.

The first prototype of electric car "ERAZ-ARMENIA" (written in Russian in the picture above). Also you can see inscription 'Testing' on the front bumper.

And the other 2 pics of ERAZ were made for 1980 Olympic games in Moscow.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The forgotten Technologies of the Soviet Armenia: ERAZ Electro

Nowadays, hybrid technologies are considered as one of the most promising developments in the automotive world. In this sphere, there are already clearly identified leaders among the giants of the global auto industry. Today it’s almost impossible to believe that during Soviet times, our country also undertook active efforts to develop a car powered by electricity. In different republics of the Soviet Union, thanks to the efforts of many institutions there were built challenging samples which were put to the test in various conditions. In Armenia, the first result of such works became this vehicle running on a hybrid power train. It was designed in 1978 in Yerevan Polytechnic Institute, in the research laboratory for electric vehicles.

Unfortunately, today, this car is consigned to oblivion. The fate of its designers is also unknown. I just came across this miraculously preserved photo.
By the way, the Yerevan Automobile Plant also made major efforts to create an electrically powered cars.
More about this, I will cover in the near future.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Reliable A4 (Part 4)

Just try to enter a turn at a greater speed and slightly chop the throttle spinning back the wheel. The rear axle immediately takes up the sliding baton from the front and the car performs smooth drifts, which are controlled at any stage of difficulty.

At the breaking point the car slides with all wheels slightly throwing the back, but nothing to worry about- the skid is easily corrected with the wheel. The steady engine will allow you to drag the car from a slide with minimal efforts. Clutching the road surface with all wheels, the A4 whistles like a bullet out of the turn.
The “Quattro” of the A4 is based on the old and reliable self-locking differential “Torsen”, which cleverly distributes torque between axles.
It’s not by chance that among the great German trio, the A4 is the leader in the D segment. And it’s no wonder that there is a growing number of so many restyled modifications of this model in our streets. I enjoyed the car very much and hopefully managed to maintain objectivity in this article. One thing for sure, the A4 is a correctly balanced, fast and technologically advanced car, so you will never regret owning it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Reliable A4 (Part 3)

Whenever I drive an Audi, I always get fascinated by the work of power steering, which generates great feedback depending on the driving speed. In a parking lot, you can spin the wheel with your little finger, but as the speed increases, the steering wheel gets heavier and heavier allowing you to accurately control the car. Another undoubted advantage is that you don’t have to gradually change the force during fast rotations of the wheel. In addition, the steering wheel of the A4 TFSI is pleasant to the touch- the cross-section is correctly chosen. The gearshift paddles are ideally set, so you needn’t get used to them.

I pressed the brake pedal and slightly revved up the engine. As the light turned green, I fully pressed the accelerator…the car sped along the road like a bullet making my body shake with adrenaline shock. The only pity was that the turbine whistle couldn’t be heard. The engine was roaring without giving away the presence of the turbine.
The engine is quite flexible. It demonstrates excellent traction after about 4000 rpm. When the sport mode of the automatic transmission is enabled or the gas pedal is fully pressed, the gear will hang on the selected speed till the very last moment and will shift only after reaching the maximal rpm. To the credit of the tiptronic, it should be noted that it copes with the task very quickly and without delays. My friend was even convinced that it was the DSG gearbox.
Is the standard suspension capable of coping with the dynamic capacity of this powerful A4? The answer is YES. Of course, I’d like a little less swings and more composure, but let’s not forget that this is not the S4. The chassis is set up for everyday use. However, comfort keeps up with flexibility. The suspension is very power-intensive and can be broken, only if you try really hard.  Bends and turns are the natural elements of the “Quattro”.
To be continued...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Reliable A4 (Part 2)

However, the main advantage of the car is hidden under the hood: the 2-liter turbo engine with direct fuel injection (FSI). The Audi is very proud of this technology, since it got its baptism of fire in motorsport.

So our A4 2.0T FSI, is a vivid example of a sport-civic sedan: 200 HP, a torque responsive engine, 19-inch wheels (unfortunately, the car has a standard suspension). I got slightly frustrated with the fact that this wonderful engine is supported by a 6-speed tiptronic transmission- I wish it was manual, or at least the superfast DSG. By the way, the first option is available, as for the second, we will have to forget about it.  But instead, as a compensation we get sporty flappy-paddle tiptronic gear shifters (there is a special algorithm used on powerful A4s and the S4), which makes you feel as if behind the wheel of a Formula One car. However, I never used those paddles. Luckily, I had ridden in a Land Cruiser for a few hours, before I started the test. So, it was very fun to get into a compact 200HP sedan after the huge Japanese” yacht”. 

 Firstly, I’d like to highlight the perfectionism of the interior finishing- it’s almost the same as that of the company’s flagship A8- the same stylistic techniques and the same aura of the impeccable quality. All the parts are perfectly assembled.
Everything is great with emphasized modesty. There is no pathos, but lots of grace. The ergonomics is beyond question; the visibility is also good. “Try to be perfect in everything”, this seems to be the motto of the designers from Ingolstadt.
To be continued...

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Reliable A4 (Part 1)

No matter how much objective approach one tries to provide when writing about cars, the personal taste and preference are always reflected in an article.

The fact that today’s car belongs to the Audi group, suggests that I am going to enjoy the test.
In this article I have a chance to introduce an eccentrically colored Audi A4, the driver of which willingly agreed to put it to the test. The combination of the classic black and aggressive red gives a unique attractiveness to this A4.
Now, let’s see what it’s capable of!

The A4 is not a newcomer in its class, moreover, it’s one of the recognized leaders in the D segment. Before being restyled, the car was good all the same- this is the case, when the unification of design with higher class models (primarily, with the top model A8) has a beneficial influence on lower class representatives. Although the A4 is obtained in the modest mid-size D segment, it can easily challenge some higher rank models in terms of workmanship, materials and respectability.

The restyling added some charm and emotionality to the car. The previous model was strict and kind of icy, like a steel. But our model is filled with romanticism, which is expressed in the slanted headlights with the powerful branded grill, or in the rubies of the rear lights imitating an Italian style, as well as in the light sidewalls which got stylish stampings after the restyling.  Only the black and red colors imply that our German romantic can turn into an aggressive beast, if needed.
To be continued...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Fastest Lion: Peugeot 407 (Part 3)

The “arsenal” of the 407 also includes such pleasant things for the driver as adaptive headlights, tire pressure control system and an oil temperature gauge on the dashboard.

The driver’s seat is not much different from other cars of this family. The only thing that might attract your attention is the beautiful metallic gear stick. The running of the 6-cylinder engine is accompanied by pleasant sounds of exhaust system. The engine traction is really impressive and provokes you to nothing but acceleration. The gear change is so smooth that there is no doubt as to perfect tuning of the transmission. Strange thing: although I knew that there was a function of sequential gearshift in the manual mode, I never wanted to disturb the harmony by interfering in the perfect performance of the automatic mode.
Unlike its fellows, the top version of the 407 has laminated side windows, so the inside is very quiet and cozy. But this car with the most powerful engine is definitely not for a quiet ride. It easily crosses the line of 200km/h.

This “lion” also has super “instincts” of self-preservation: in difficult situations, the permanent ESP system will come to the rescue of the driver. However, the “instincts” of the 3.0L model not only act for prohibitions and restrictions, but also assist the (reasonable) fulfillment of the driver’s desires.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Fastest Lion: Peugeot 407 (Part 2)

The slight decrease of the dynamic performance and fuel efficiency is caused by additional concern about the driver and passengers of the 407, which includes specially designed front crumple zones, energy-absorbing inserts in the doors and additional air bags, including the one under the column of the steering wheel- it prevents injuries of the driver’s knees.  In other words, the designers made the car safer to the detriment of dynamics. However, this Peugeot 407 3.0 still remains the fastest and the most expressive car in the family.

The engine and the gearbox are not the only features that make the most expensive 407 differ from its fellows. For instance, shock absorbers with variable characteristics cannot be found on other versions of the family. Nowadays, Peugeot is among the fewest companies that provide domestically manufactured shock absorbers. So, the shock absorbers of the most powerful 407 are also the product of the native designers. In order to maintain good contact with the road, the shocks have nine modes of rigidity and each of them is controlled by own rigidity sensor. Thus, the shock absorbers not only obey the driver’s desires, but also monitor feedback depending on the road surface and changes of the movement nature. For instance, when driving on a bumpy road, the suspension becomes softer; and vice versa, it becomes harder on bends and turns.

The stiffness of the shock absorbers also varies depending on speed, acceleration and slowdown. Of course, the driver can himself add stiffness to the suspension by switching to sport mode.
Another interesting feature of this 407 is the power steering. It changes the force on the steering wheel depending on many factors, such as speed, crankshaft rotation frequency, angle and speed of steering.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Fastest Lion: Peugeot 407 (Part 1)

Like humans and animals, cars also always have an outstanding leader.  In the “lion family”, the leader is the Peugeot 407 with a 3-liter V6 engine. Of course, car leaders set the tone for technical solutions, trimming quality and rich equipment. However, leaders cannot claim the top lines in sales summaries due to high prices, but in everything else, they don’t give even the slightest chance to their “kin”.

The main difference of the most expensive 407 is in the engine- it’s more powerful than those installed on the rest of the representatives of the company, including the executive 607. So the 3-liter sedan turned out to be the fastest lion in the pride. At the same time, this engine is not at all something exceptional in the world of motors. Yes, it produces 211 HP, which is not bad. Yes, as compared with 3-liter engines of the previous generations, it has 3 kW more power and 5 N m more torque. All this was achieved through an improved control of valve timing and a new muffler. But, for instance, the BMW engine of the same volume produces 20HP more.

 Sad is that the 407 got heavier than its predecessor (Peugeot 406) by 150 kg and almost caught up with the next model of a higher class- the Peugeot 607.  It’s natural that the 407 loses to the 406 in terms of agility conceding half a second (6 versus 5.5) during the acceleration from 80-120 km/h. But the most frustrating fact is that it became more voracious (average fuel consumption: the 407-12.5L/100km, the 406-11.7L/100km). The problem was alleviated (but not finally resolved) by the use of a super-modern 6-speed gearbox, which engages in a sequential manner. This gearbox is installed on all 3L models. Note that the top version of the 406 was equipped with a traditional 4-speed automatic gearbox.
To be continued...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

KIA Sportage (Part 3)

Now the suspension: it’s not an example of reliability, in spite of the fact that the rear suspension is built on an ordinary continuous steel bar on springs; the front is equipped with double wishbone suspension. The most expensive thing in the front suspension is the upper ball joint, the wear and tear of which leads to a total replacement of the wishbone.

The replacement is needed about every 50.000-80.000 km. However, the hubs, stabilizers and lower balls break down more frequently.
Functionality is inherent to most cars of this brand and is expressed through good packaging, which includes full power accessories (most of the models are equipped with power side-view mirrors, power steering, air conditioning and ventilation system with a micro filter by default). I was very pleased that the steering wheel had a vertical adjustment.

As for safety, the Sportage has airbags for the driver and passengers, as well as side airbags and inflatable curtains. There are also seatbelt pretensioners with load limiters, ABS system with disc brakes on all wheels, an excellent clutch control system and a stability program.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

KIA Sportage (Part 2)

The designers used the latest technology to create the body; it is made of so-called “zincrometal” which has a high corrosion resistance (in this aspect, the Sportage was recognized as one of the best in many countries).
Another plus of this car is the decent ground clearance (210mm).

The distance between the underside and the ground became much further- the underside itself is completely flat, out of which there is nothing coming out, except the rear axle gear and the lower arms of the front suspension. The overall impression is good- with such a design, the car is suitable for all occasions. The long, powerful and impressively large body allows you to take everything needed for an active and modern lifestyle!
The Sportage is equipped with 2.0L engines: petrol engines which produce 95 and 128HP (the latter is a 16-valve engine with 2 camshafts) and a turbocharged diesel engine with a capacity of 63HP. The front axle of the Sportage can be optionally enabled- the car has no inter-axle differential.

The model I tried, also had an automatically lockable rear axle differential. The 128HP is enough for the car to be titled as an off-roader (as for the 95HP engine, I really doubt it- it’s easier to repair, though). Like any other vehicle, this KIA also has its greatest weakness- the connection sockets of the front axle! They can be manual (in order to lock them, you will have to stop the car and get out of it), automatic (you can enable the front axle without leaving the car, but you will have to stop it anyway) and automatic vacuum (the front axle can be enabled during the drive up to 80km/h).

Saturday, May 2, 2015

KIA Sportage (Part 1)

The cars of the Korean automotive giant are very popular not only in Armenia, but also all over the world because of high quality standard, comfort and very reasonable price in comparison with their EU and US counterparts.

The KIA Sportage is for those who like serious cars designed for long family trips out of town. The reason for this is, first of all, the huge trunk, which can accommodate a large amount of various things that can be useful during a trip. The interior of the car is at the highest level, which guarantees a comfortable ride to the driver and passengers even during very long trips. The high suspension will make you feel confidence not only on smooth asphalt, but also on dirt and forest roads.
This stylish and powerful SUV is simply breathtaking with its striking appearance. The car is certainly nor for women, because they would simply get lost in it. As for men, it will please any of them. Considering the design of the car, I should mention the powerful look of the KIA Sportage, which gives a sense of reliability.

This model is distinguishable for its massive bumper, the vertical protection elements that pass along the edges of the air intake stretching to the radiator grille. Another standout is the stylish dual-lamp headlights with integrated turn signals. The car of the 2004 has got fully updated lighting optics. The front headlight units have modern reflecting diffusers and the glass is replaced with durable polycarbonate.

To be continued…

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An American Dream (Chevrolet Corvette C6) Part 3

How to take off the roof?
There came a moment when we wanted to unfold the roof. The question was "how and where?” We decided to find the answer on the internet. Can you imagine what we found on a forum of Corvette owners? "Hey guys, how does the roof unfold?"

And only thanks to YouTube we managed to figure out where the secret button was.

Chevrolet Corvette left mixed impressions of brutality and, at the same time, effective performance. Fortunately, it's quite loyal to inexperienced drivers, nevertheless develops an understanding that for a proper handling of such vehicle there is still much to learn. Hopefully, I will have a chance to compare the Corvette with the famous Viper, in order to identify the most dangerous metal beast in America.

Monday, April 6, 2015

An American Dream (Chevrolet Corvette C6) Part 2

The ride
At first I took the passenger place and hardly restrained myself from sticking out my hand out of the window to touch the ground ( of course, when the traffic light was red). The Corvette is so pressed to the ground that I had a feeling, as if moving on a sledge.

The noise insulation is weak, the engine is heard all over the rpm range, and the blowing airflow sings along to the engine somewhere in the region of the front suspension.
The suspension is rather stiff (almost to the point of discomfort), although the wheels of the Corvette are smaller than those of the "Camaro" (front- 245/40 ZR18, rear- 285/35 ZR19). In general, everything reaches the required standard for a sports car. Due to little driving experience, a colleague of mine hadn't dared to properly press the gas pedal, and therefore the real potential of the Corvette remained a mystery to me, until it was my turn to take the wheel. And only then I realized how it feels to handle a car which was created without any regard to the driver's convenience! The steering wheel of this Chevrolet turned out to be just too heavy- I hadn't had such an experience since discovering the "VAZ-2106". The process of driving the C6 through the narrow streets of Yerevan in hopes of finding a free parking place is equivalent to working out at the gym- I sweated heavily!

On the highway, the car is dangerous. Of course, I could somehow imagine what the 450HP engine was capable of, but not to such an extent.  I suggest never pressing the gas pedal longer than 6 seconds, otherwise it will lead not only to a fine, but also to a loss of driving license. The Corvette C6 is not even a space devourer...it's just a teleport machine, which, to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning, turns into a tiny dot on the horizon.
The automatic gearbox shifts with violent shakes making your cervical spine crunch at every gear change. The car hysterically trembles at any bump causing a loud crash of the interior details, and the howling wind completes the chaos inside the car.
This car is an immense source of adrenaline!
At the end of the ride, the Corvette miraculously consumed 10.5 liters of petrol per 100 kilometers. We hadn't used the fuel sparingly, though.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An American Dream (Chevrolet Corvette C6) Part 1

Originally, "Corvette" is a type of warship designed for patrol and escort service. But today I will share my impressions about an American car which is also known as "Corvette".

Even when surrounded by such elite models as the "Bentley Continental" and the "Maseratti GranTurismo" in an underground garage, our yellow Chevrolet Corvette C6 was still stunning in appearance. The long slopping hood and the short snub tail make the low body silhouette look like out of time. The succession of the "Corvette" generations is obvious, and it's great that the car has been changing for several decades, but has always remained instantly recognizable.

The inside
I was completely shocked, as I got into the car... "Welcome to 90's"- so I would characterize this interior, which would be more suitable for the "Opel Calibra" or for some other budget sports car from the late 20th century. There is no hint that you're going to drive one of the fastest cars produced in the USA.

The "highlights" of the interior are the black & yellow plastic which cracks everywhere, the ancient display of the stereo system and the huge gaps between the components. But, as in the "Camaro", the electrically adjustable seats are simply wonderful.

An important note here is that you can't through your stuff back, since almost immediately behind the seat there is the wall of the trunk, and at one point it flew out of my head, so I played squash a bit with the car- the blindly thrown bag ricocheted off the plastic and flopped down on my knees.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The King of Roads (Part 2)

However, when looking at the huge bonnet hiding behind the horizon, you stop paying attention to the interior and everything else. You are the king of roads! And as a true monarch, you drive smoothly and slowly with a sense of dignity. Everyone will let you pass.

But as soon as you push the gas, you are no longer the king- I wouldn't say that the 300C equipped with a 2.7-liter engine is a slow car. The only thing is that there is less bass in the exhaust sound (of course, the models equipped with more powerful engines growl more terrifyingly). But if this engine was lighter even by 100 grams , it would scream worse than any Hemi- especially the one with the 4-speed automatic gearbox, which, of course, can smoothly switch, but lacks speeds and quickness. So the capacity of 2.7-liters is the minimum acceptable level. 
Our Chrysler shares with Mercedes not only the same parktronic system, but also the platform of the previous E-class, which implies a high level of comfort, isn't it? In theory- Yes, but the Americans reconfigured the chassis to suit their tastes. Of course, in general, it remained supremely comfortable, because the US citizens value comfort no less than Germans. But the huge wheels that look so cool are very heavy and sometimes cause unpleasant vibrations when passing over road seams.

The same is with the steering-wheel- on potholes, it twitches stronger than you'd like. By adding a little more jumps on hard bumps, we already have a complete list of complaints against the chassis collected during the test. As for the rest, everything is OK. Although the 300C is a huge vehicle, it 's easy to handle- the suspension virtually ignores most types of holes and bumps without shaking the car. The car feels very tight, sways moderately on curves without resembling most of its "compatriots".
It's good that the charisma of this car is not confined to appearance. The 300C is not only excellently equipped, but also has a solid chassis. It's true, this Chrysler is not the best offer on the market- but let’s not forget, you pay (about $50.000) not only for a set of options, but also for an opportunity to stand out.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The King of Roads (Part 1)

Chrysler was the king of roads in 1960's, when petrol used to cost a couple of cents per gallon, and every self-respecting granny owned a car with engine capacity of at least 5 liters. And although those days are long gone, the 300C is still cool. The most powerful version of the 300C is the SRT8. Carrying a 435 HP V8 engine, it's in no way inferior to its ancestors.

But (unfortunately) the car in our test is a modest version with a 193HP 2.7L engine and a 4-speed automatic gearbox. Instead, the price of this version might be quite affordable for  some motorists. This car basically challenges big, not overly advanced Japanese sedans and not very expensive representatives of business class.
What can it offer in addition to undeniable charisma?
Our packaging is overage for the 300C. The car has xenon headlights, dual-zone climate control, leather interior, powered steering and seats. Moreover, all this is included in the base version. Extra payment must be made for a sunroof, navigation, heated rear seats, more advanced "Kicker" stereo system with 12 speakers a subwoofer and for an electronically controlled gas pedal.

The ample room available in the interior makes you feel as comfortable as in your living-room. You can choose any kind of sitting position behind the wheel, especially if you've paid extra for the electronically controlled gas pedal. No matter if it's a dwarf or the Hulk- both of them will  feel equally comfortable. And although the steering wheel is obviously too big, it doesn't embarrass at all. Quite the contrary; this huge wheel reinforces the impression of driving a huge road cruiser. The field of view from the soft “captain chairs”  through the small windscreen, which emphasizes the brutal appearance of the 300C, leaves much to be desired. It really annoys, when parking the car. The good news is that the car has a parktronic system which, by the way, is the same as on the E-Class Mercedes. In general, I couldn't find anything in the interior to carp about. The trimming is also nice- it won't get to the level of Mercedes, but the 300C was never meant to.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Maserati GranTurismo (Part 2)

But in that story, the result was slightly disappointing- the sedan lost too much physicality. In our case, although the automatic transmission has changed the character of the GranTurismo, it has retained its fighting spirits and sporting qualities. This 6-speed beast is capable of switching even at highest revs- up to 7200 rpm! Very few automatic gearboxes are able to perform such astonishing feats.

It might be slightly inferior to some more sophisticated robotic gearboxes, but it will never harm the driver, which, in this case, is much more important. Moreover, it is more reliable and can adapt itself  to the driving style of the driver at low and medium revs, at the same time keeping constant its actions at high revs.
The ZF gearbox can be used manually (by means of gear shift underwheel petals), as well as automatically offering the driver 2 sub-options: "Auto Sport" or "Auto Ice". The latter, by the way, is very useful when driving on slippery roads. Both of the suboptions are intuitively understandable and act just as you expect.
I must confess, after the installation of the new engine, the rear-drive (and the driver too) has to cope with  the capacity of 440 HP, which is achieved at 7000 rpm.

As compared with the previous 4.2 L GranTurismo, the increase is by 35 HP. The maximal torque is also increased- this V8 engine produces 490 N m already at 4750 rpm. This power is enough to provide decent acceleration for a sport car. It took me 5.3 seconds to accelerate the car 0-100 km/h (the factory data is 5 seconds) and 13.5 seconds to pass the distance of 400 meters. The maximal speed of this coupe is 295 km/h. I didn't dare to check it out. It would have been a reckless challenge to do so on Armenian roads or tracks. I am willing to take it on trust, however.

I'd like to separately underline the work of the suspension. Taking into account the terrible quality of Armenian roads and the low ground clearance, the car never touched the road ( I was very lucky not to damage a 150.000-dollar-car).  The Skyhook system, which constantly controls the shock absorbers, significantly improves the comfort level, at the same time, maintaining the necessary, but acceptable rigidity.
The main advantage of this coupe is the equal pleasure both from fast and slow driving. All the reactions are predictable and very clear. The gas pedal is very responsive, and therefore should be treated delicately. The engine sound of the GranTurismo is simply magnificent- it can be compared with that of Ferrari and, may be, the German AMG. During the ride, I really enjoyed that Italian Symphony of power and immense energy.
In general, this coupe really made a very strong impression. Leaving behind the new Quattroporte, the GranTurismo is just another huge step forward, which brought glory to the Italian legendary car brand.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Maserati GranTurismo (Part 1)

The seductiveness of this car is so strong that you'd better not look at it too long, otherwise you might sink into complete apathy towards any other vehicles on this planet. At least, while you are next to the GranTurismo, the probability of this event is as great as your desire to try it out on a deserted highway, like the guy on a glossy advertisement.

There is an impression as if someone hid a special emitter in the car that makes you and others to look only at it. I think the appearance of such cars is like a breath of fresh air in the world of automotive industry. It's great that there are still heroes who are able to convey to buyers that fire from the past that has captured the hearts and minds of the designers leading them eventually to create something truly immortal... something that's called the car, which, in fact,  gradually turns into a banal means of transportation. Undoubtedly, the Maserati GranTurismo is one of the brightest representatives in the automotive world. This car allows you to divide the cast of sports cars into two camps proving that the combination of sport and comfort at this highest level is still achievable.

It should be noted that the design of the GranTurismo was created by the Studio Pininfarina, whereas that of the well-known Quattroporte by the colleagues from Bertone. It's not necessary to write much about the design of this car, because it's an embodiment of perfection and I believe everyone is able to do justice to it.
Just note that from any angle you can see something new and special. In front, there are the slanting xenon headlights and the huge air intake with an impressive trident.

The magnificent silhouette of the car is emphasized by the quaintly designed wheel disks, as well as the traditional small air-ducts on the wings. The exhaust pipes framed with a black diffuser alongside with the beautiful taillights give the rear part of the car quite a solid appearance. Even the external data can solely provide a steady demand for such coupes on the market- the sophisticated connoisseurs of real cars are ready to vote for them with their finances. These people are not willing to put up with modern trends of creating electric "trolleys" and various pseudo-hybrids. They earn enough money to afford the best of the best.
It's worth mentioning that since the release of the GranTurismo S Automatic, it's been much easier for this coupe to fulfill its mission, because the original version of the GranTurismo was not so powerful- it was equipped with a smaller engine and was destitute of some innovative features. This story is somehow similar to that of the Quattroporte, when the engineers screwed automatic transmission thereto.