Big SUV Comparison (Bonus: a Van!) - PART 3: Simon Says Slide!

Discussion in 'Enthusia' started by Matej, Apr 1, 2018.

  1. Matej

    Matej Premium

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    BIG SUV COMPARISON (BONUS: A VAN!)

    Skip to Part 2 - Test Drive on Cosmic Eggway
    Skip to Part 3 - Test Drive on Wintertraum


    Angels, have mercy on my soul... I can't believe I'm inclined to talk about those. But this is exactly what this thread will be about, you'll be reading my thoughts on the six utility vehicles that I assembled together for the purpose of reviewing them. Five big, nasty SUVs and a van. Holy, pickle...

    Let's meet our miserable contestants, shall we?



    THE GELANDEWAGEN


    Once upon a time, an old "friend" of mine asked me how could I possibly compare anything to the mighty G-wagen? You know, how do I dare and stuff like that. He is one of those typical old-fashioned Eastern Europeans who refuse to acknowledge any vehicle that doesn't have a flashy German badge on its nose. He would eagerly waste hours and hours trying to find reasons to praise awesome German auto engineering and everything that resembles it. Even if the subject was a G-wagen, he still wouldn't give up. No wonder we're not in contact anymore.

    The thing is, the G-wagen conceptually dates from the late 70's. It started off as an military vehicle, a working mule. Far from modern resemblance of a cosmetic product for rich people it is today. Its design is timeless, and its off-road abilities indisputable, but in every other field this is an obsolete product whose inner fundamentals haven't been changed for over 30 years. Naturally, this leaves lots of negative effects on driving dynamics, steering, fuel consumption, comfort.... pretty much every important portion of the car.

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    But you know what? I wouldn't say anything against the G-wagen if only it wasn't so god-damn pricey! They have jacked up the prices of these boxes to such enormous level, I sometimes think I'm being fooled by my own eyes! Would you believe that in early 2000's it was possible to buy two Toyota Land Cruisers or even three Land Rover Defenders for a price of a single G-wagen? And I'm not comparing the G-wagen to some random cars, I'm comparing it to its rivals, hard-core terrain vehicles that have very similar abilities to the G-wagen. I don't care if its entire body is galvanized and hand-made or if they are able to submerge to hell and get out intact, when something is overpriced, it is overpriced. Alongside so many cheaper alternatives out there, the G-wagen just isn't worth the money. Being the most expensive standard Mercedes-Benz out there, it spits vomit on the manufacturer's flagship models that actually do have a reason or two to be expensive. I can't possibly imagine what were they thinking.

    Well, we can assume they were thinking money. Mercedes-Benz actually wanted to pull the plug on the production in the United States, but the demand was so high they decided to keep it rolling off the line. Needles to say, as long as people are ready to pay huge price to get one, it is likely that the situation is never going to become any better for us who use or would love to use G-wagen for actual work, but aren't wealthy enough.

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    But let's cut the crap and get to the point - what kind of model do we have in Enthusia? Is it a bad-ass AMG model or a standard one with a workaholic diesel engine?

    It seems neither of the two, but something in-between. We have the G500L (infra: G), alleged runner-up of the range. It arrives with a 5.0 litre V8 engine assembling slightly below 300 horses. It seems a lot, but on a heavy brick like this, 300 hp is only adequate. I dare to say this thing needs as much power as possible. How else you're going to offset the loses you inevitably experience on corners?

    And why is this not an AMG model? Mercedes-Benz already had few of those in production by the time Enthusia came out, you know. It's not that I'm disappointed with the developer's choice or anything, but it literally begs the question: why? Shame we'll never hear the answer.

    Screenshot_4.jpg

    It doesn't really matter though. The way I see it, AMG versions of the G-wagen boast nothing but raw power. Some of them do get things like lowered suspension or bigger wheels, but they mostly serve as decoration, it's not like the brick is going to turn into a flying carpet all of a sudden. Remember, this is a military vehicle at its finest. Besides, once you reach level 10 with the G, it will performs twice as better than any AMG model, so I don't think we're at any loss here.

    Anyway, that's all I can say about this one for now. Let's move on to a next car.


    A RANGER THAT POSES A DANGER...

    I'm not a big fan of the British auto industry for a number of personal reasons, but I don't mind giving it credit where credit is due. The one of many goes to the Range Rover series for introducing the concept of the luxury SUV class to European customers.

    It was by all means a frighteningly courageous move to launch a product like that back in the days when it was hard for British car manufacturers to achieve profit and remain competitive near all the cut-throat competition from Japan and the rest of Europe. If I was living back in the 70's, I wouldn't prophesy anything but demise of the Range Rover. No matter from what angle you look at the car, it really has no reasonable argument to exist. Luckily for Brits, continuous success of the model proved that our market is definitely keen on driving this type of cars after all.

    Screenshot_46.jpg

    People love the fine blend of luxury and off-road abilities wrapped in a charismatic British envelope. Driving a Range Rover has never been all about vanity and desire to stand above other people in traffic, it's the prestige and heritage of the company that counts as well. At least with the Range Rover owners you can be assure they appreciate more than meets the eye. Or at least they want you to believe that.

    Nowadays buyers have a lot to look forward to as the Range Rovers keep getting better and better with each new generation model launched. The driving dynamics are getting there, along with the looks, which stepped up considerably with the latest L405 generation. The manufacturer can now sleep peacefully knowing it has a design people will droll over like never before. Indeed, the Range Rover series has come a long way since its inception in 1970, and it seems they've been selling in more "copies" than ever before.

    There are some drawbacks to driving a Range Rover, of course. Ask any regular owner, whether he, slash she may be an asshole with obnoxious sunglasses and arrogance reaching to oblivion or a skinny lady who "accidentally" married to a footballer and is now enjoying fruits of his short-lived career. Any of them will tell you exactly the same thing; the number one constant issue on this car is reliability. When you buy an used model - or even a brand new one - this is something you'll have to keep your eye on. The list of things that can go wrong is big, and servicing them is not a joke!

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    Plus, there has been something about Range Rovers that keeps environmental activists on their toes. I think we can all guess what that is, right? Although other big-ass SUVs aren't more clean than an average Range Rover, they didn't pioneer the class, so naturally they don't take the heaviest burden. Still, such complaints these days make no real sense anymore as the SUV category has flooded the globe entirely, and it is clearly there is no point in fighting it.

    All in all, should you ever buy a Range Rover, carefully inspect the car inside out, and keep your eye on rear-view mirror for any unwanted pursuers in white coats.

    For the Range Rover generation we have in the game (infra: Range) Land Rover coquetted with BMW before the development of the model commenced, so early models found themselves having German engines. As a result, our model is equipped with a 282hp M62 engine, the same unit that powered the old M5 (in bored edition, of course). But in case you expect to hear traditional V8 roaring, look elsewhere, BMW's V engines always have more manners audio-wise. But I'm not going to spoil things yet, we'll have chance to do it later on.

    Next ride, please!


    PER ASPERA AD ASTRO...?

    Yeah, right... more like per aspera ad stool sample.

    But it makes you think, would it be worth going through God-knows-what troubles to drive the Chevrolet Astro, perhaps the most genuine utility roller you're going to find in this game (or any other, for that matter)? I'll let you think about that. In the meantime, I'll do the basics first. How the hell would you even classify this vehicle? Is it a van or a truck?

    I guess it could be both to USA guys, but to us Euro folks it's clearly a van. So I think I'm going to call it a van. Any objections?

    Screenshot_7.jpg

    Most people would spontaneously say that telling a difference between the Astro and a typical European van is a piece of cake. Commonly they would focus on external appearance in one form or another, and start judging from there. But guess what, things aren't that simple. While it is true that our vans generally like to grow in height and length more than they do in width, numerous exceptions from all around the globe suggest you shouldn't rely on this rule of thumb too much. I remember a bunch of European vans that could easily drive on American roads just as I know few American vans (not pick-ups or trucks, mind you) that are very modest in size.

    In this case perhaps it's best to look beneath the hood and start separation from there. You see, the Astro did not have a range of diesel engines. Now, that makes things way different because in Europe we can't imagine a van without a diesel engine. Not with our petrol prices, no. We pay like twice the amount of what the Western hemisphere does to get the same amount of black liquid. So naturally, it wouldn't be advisable to drive something like the Astro on our roads. With no coupons for free EU gas or LPG installation, the happiness of owing an import would be short-lived.

    Not only the Astro lacks adequate diesel engine, but it doesn't have much petrol ones to offer either. As a matter of fact, you only get to choose one engine, a "compact" 4.3 litre V6, and that's all. You would expect quite a lot from this one given the size of the engine bay (or depth in this case), but 190hp and 250 lb.ft. of torque is all you really get. Modest output, to say at best. I'm not expecting much from the engine considering the magnitude of the object it has to drag around, but we won't know until we try...

    Screenshot_29.jpg

    But is it okay to put a thing like the Astro in a game like Enthusia? It's a van, for crying out loud. Why would you do such a thing? WHY WOULD YOU PUT A VAN IN A RACING GAME?! Konami is not even an American company, so what for?

    Believe it or not, but the Astro actually has its own cult following in Japan. There is a whole group of passionate individuals out there who would do absolutely everything to obtain, drive and service one of these. And once you think about it, it's not hard to understand why. The Astro has absolutely nothing in common with typical vehicles you can find roaming around Japan. It's a big, thirsty container with no compassion for narrow and crowded streets of this small country. Simply put, it is different. And for that reason alone it tends to draw people from outer cultures who want to try out new things or simply stand out from the crowd. It has been a common desire for both sides of the world to try out each other's products and see how they stack up against local cuisine. People from the east want to know how a van from the west feels like, much like we want to know what's like to drive one of those tiny kei cars. Get it? Automotive industry bonds nations much like tourist attractions you dream of in brochures.

    And if that's not enough, you have camping freaks and people who stick up for a particular lifestyle. You may as well have people with odd taste in cars or anything that resembles one. If there is one thing I learned about Japan, it's their unusual taste for vans and wacky modifications.

    Screenshot_15.jpg

    Therefore, it's no wonder why the Astro proved to be such a popular pick out there. Allegedly it was a top American import, though official records are hard to come by because of the so-called grey import. Nowadays you can find bunch of Astros being listed for sale to Japanese customers almost as if Japan was Astro's homeland. Goo-net exchange website lists tens and tens of adverts for this big-ass can. Amazing.

    Now that we have established what the Astro really is and why it makes an appearance in Enthusia, let's drive the damn thing. Oh, wait... we have more cars to present.


    DAS SUV

    Named after the North African inhabitants, the Touareg (infra: T-reg) was the Volkswagen's first trip to the realm of bulky SUVs. Yes, for real! Although Volkswagen was no stranger to four-wheel drive systems and their applications to its own cars, in the last few decades it had nothing you could classify as a terrain vehicle. For a creator of the Kubelwagen and Schwimmwagen, this was unforgiving.

    In 1986 Volkswagen made its first move by entering a collaboration with Steyr-Daimler-Puch of Austria to produce a four-wheel drive Golf, which would later evolve into Golf Country. It was an interesting product for its time, somewhat laying the basis for future crossovers. There was only one little big problem - the Country was conceptually a bit too extreme for an average buyer, which meant it couldn't succeed even if it wanted to. Definitely not a feather in Volkswagen's cap, who decided to abort the production after less than 8,000 examples produced.

    With such modest background, you wouldn't expect anything but tits from Volkswagen. But then came a T-reg, a turning point for the manufacturer.

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    Why was the T-reg so special? Well, primarily because it wasn't. It wasn't special at all, as a matter of fact, it suffered from all the same problems that marred any other oversized car with big tires. In addition, owners who were caught on earlier examples reported numerous reliability problems, some of which were enormously expensive to remedy. Volkswagen managed to pull out enough monkey wrenches over the time to improve reliability statistics, but that could do little to appease anger of customers who already invested a little fortune into the car expecting to receive flawless German quality.

    The T-reg was a decent seller in countries where Volkswagen was held in high esteem, but globally it never managed to beat the figures from the BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz M-Class, the two of its main competitors. Why is that, beats me. In terms of pricing, all three had equal chances of taking the class-leading position, and they weren't very far from each other performance-wise either. Perhaps the T-reg was at disadvantage being a parachuter landing on a territory two years after these two came out, who can tell... but I guess Volkswagen was happy with its current position on the market, however debatable it may be, because the T-reg is still being produced to this very day.

    One thing is sure, Volkswagen managed to produce a car that was equally competent on road as it was off road. How much competent, that's another story, but it did had fair amount of abilities thanks to its locking differentials, optional self-levelling suspension, and low-range gears.

    Screenshot_100.jpg

    But to make sure nothing would go wrong during the production, Volkswagen decided to play strategically and co-develop the car with Porsche and Audi, which is why we got the Cayenne and Q7 in first place.

    Yes, even Porsche was part of this heavy load of pretentious grease development. What was the world coming to?

    This naturally begs a little question - does the T-reg drive like a Porsche?

    We are going to find that out very soon, no worries. But for now, we need to ensure that we have enough power on disposal to face the G, currently the most powerful car on the test.

    Luckily, the T-reg doesn't disappoint in that regard. Deep inside this big menace rests a 4.2 litre V8 with over 300 horses ready to gallop on your command. Mind you, this is not the best model in the range, but a runner-up, just like in the G case. If only Enthusia came out few months later, maybe we would be talking about the 6.0 W12 T-reg now instead of this. Just imagine, having an engine from Volkswagen Nardo in a car like this... Well, for the sake of this review, I'm glad that the T-reg has an engine that is matched to the rest of the squad.

    Screenshot_112.jpg

    As you can see, Volkswagen is no longer experimenting with jacked up Golfs. This is an all-new, inconveniently oversized, unbelievably obese, and irreparably worthless product. Yes, it's an SUV, Volkswagen finally made it. And to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised to see it excelling its rivals. Not only because it has the best power-to-weight ratio of them all, but because it was built on modern SUV basis which dictate a car should be drivable on public roads regardless of its weight, size or other masculine attributes. If there is one thing all other cars on this test share, it's the Indiana Jones nature that pushes the driving dynamics to the far background. The T-reg is a step in a different direction (not necessarily right direction), and because of that reason alone, it could have the edge over the rest.

    So, excuse me from expecting a lot from it, but I want this concealed Porsche badge to pay off, understand?


    SHOGUN WAR

    Would you say the foreseeable future is looking bright for Mitsubishi? Perhaps you could, though nobody can tell for sure. They have been struggling to survive, which is evident from the car list that hasn't really received any major update since... eh, since... he-he, could you please give me a minute? I need to jog my memory.

    Only time will tell how the manufacturer will perform and whether we'll see it making any major moves in the upcoming months. Allegedly it's turning its production to electric, hopefully it will become a major player in that field. Some of our taxi services already use Lancers powered by alternative fuel, you know.

    But for now, we don't need to bother our heads with that, let's just focus on the 90's, a period during which Mitsubishi was giving birth to some of the most iconic cars out there, and polishing those that had been around from before. The car we have on the test today belongs to the latter group.

    Screenshot_83.jpg

    The Pajero is considered to be one of Japan's big three when it comes to serious off-roading. It is a classic tool, a workhorse for pulling and towing all the things a man doesn't want to do, and for exploring all the exotic places around the globe a man wants to do. It may not be as long-lived as the Land Cruiser or Patrol, or as iconic as the G-wagen, but it does what it is supposed to do, and most importantly, it is reliable. Of course, servicing isn't cheap, but that's the price you have to pay to mountaineer with a car.

    Much like the other two (or three, I mustn't disregard the G-thing, even though I would dearly do so), it has a pedigree out there where boots worth more than shoes, and it is a great off-road weapon. But can it behave on track? In that regard, what the hell can we really expect from it?

    First, let's start with nomenclature, because it's damn perplexing. The classic Pajero was manufactured under different names depending on the market, and some of the names were applied to models that didn't have much in common with the classic Pajero itself. This makes the differentiation so much tougher and complicated especially if you're not reading from reliable sources. The most common mistake would be to mix the classic and Sport model, because both were equally familiar and common on roads. From what the internet told me, the Sport model is based on a pick-up model, it sits lower, and has a closer gearbox. It seems they wanted to appeal to casual buyers by offering a full-size SUV with characteristics of an ordinary car. Good intentions, but I don't know how much this could appeal to anyone given it was as much of a sportsman as I was in my earlier days (in other words, a waste). But I guess it is better than the classic Pajero. People who did drive it say it certainly is better, so we have to believe them, right?

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    And then we have the looks. The spare tire hanging on the trunk panel and modest two-tone colour selections almost scream "I off-road, baby!". At first glance everyone would agree that this one wasn't built for anything other than mud or snow. Great, I just hope it doesn't drive like that.

    It's got some power too, who could tell... the subject is a 3.5 litre V6 claiming 217hp. This power was achieved thanks to the gasoline direct injection technology, otherwise it wouldn't even have 200hp. It's a pretty low number for a car weighing 1930 kilos, but given it's in the D class along with the Touareg and the G, perhaps I should shut up and give this little bastard a chance.

    One thing that makes me happy is the torque bias. Allegedly, until you start touching all the pedals and buttons in the car, the Pajero has a 33-67 torque split ratio by default. Combine this with a short wheelbase, and we might be on to something....


    CRUISER - LOSER

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    Once upon a time, a wise man seated on a chair and engraved few words into wood - a man should never judge a book by its cover. The idiom that would last for generations to follow is now flashing before my eyes as I inspect the mighty Land Cruiser in its full glory.

    Okay, I get the point, I should do some driving first before setting the car on fire. But you have to understand me, how am I supposed to judge a car that has two and a half tons of pure weight and an engine completely incompetent (or should I say impotent...) to drag all that around? With all due respect to our wise man from the beginning, but I think I have all the rights to judge this book however the hell I want.

    The Cruiser actually does have qualities worth an applause, though most of those mean nothing in a racing game like Enthusia. So in order for me to appreciate its presence in the game, I have to look further from the realm of virtual driving and check out why is that people love this car so much (those who own it, of course).

    Well, because it is reliable, what else? Much like the Pajero or Patrol, it has that reputation of being an indestructible, often over-engineered machine that needs hell of a lot abusing and aggression to fall on its knees. This would explain why it is such a popular choice in countries with extreme climate conditions or unreachable terrain. Hm, doesn't that sound familiar? Almost like we have been here before. Yes, I'm alluding to the G-wagen again. But let me tell you something, no matter how much you prefer the G-wagen over the Cruiser (lots of people do this), never will the G-wagen be as affordable as the Cruiser (or any other SUV for that matter). I'm sure people are aware of that, which is the main reason why sales of the Cruiser aren't going down, but up. Long time ago total production of all Cruiser variations reached a 7-digit number, a feat in its own class.

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    To this very day Toyota continues to insist on production of two separate models, one for those who spend majority of driving outside tarmac (the J70 is the latest, first introduced in 1984), and one for urban boys who just want show off (the latest is the J200, born in 2007). The model we have in the game is the J100, a predecessor of the J200, and the first of probably many bulky models that are scheduled to appear in future. Although it introduced many new technologies, good chunk of its components were transferred from the previous model (J80), including the engines. Raw power is not what we are going to get from those, though. The grand daddy of the range - the 4.5 litre in-line 6 - received a substantial increase in power over the previous model, but not enough to hit value of 250, which overall isn't anything special, right? The J100 was also the first model in the range to receive a new V8 to please customers on the American market, but with even lower power than the 4.5 litre, it has nothing that would interest us.

    So... which of these two did we get? Neither, that's the problem. We got a diesel. Come again? Yeah, I know... let that sink in.

    We got a 4.2 litre turbocharged diesel pushing out 190 horsepower and 318 lb-ft of torque. Please someone pinch me because I can't believe this is happening. I mean, who approved this? I can understand that a diesel in real life is probably the only reasonable option for a car this big, but who thought that a diesel would be a fine choice for an SUV in a game revolving around circuit racing? To further fuel the fire, the engine is paired with a 4-speed automatic gearbox. Oh, my... I can already sense how much of an excitement accelerating with this thing will be. I have seen so many wicked and boring combinations in racing games, but this one takes the cake. I'm dead serious!

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    This is why the Cruiser is last on the list, I was holding back myself from reviewing it knowing it has all the dullest car features and characteristics you can think of. How the hell I am going to face the rest of the SUV squad? It's already in a disadvantageous position being in the E class. We must find something to rely on quick, there must be something...

    Okay. Now that we have introduced ourselves to all six contestants, there is only one thing left to do - drive. Let's drive one by one, and see which one can emerge from the sea of uselessness. Let the show commence!

    Stay tuned for part II.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
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  2. Wolfe

    Wolfe Premium

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    Nice write-up. :cheers: I particularly liked the part under the Astro about different parts of the globe being mutually interested in vehicles from each other's cultures. Of course, Japan has its own van-enthusiast subculture as well, which is why we've got the Elgrand and Alphard V, and also helps to explain the Astro's debut as a playable vehicle in a racing game. :)

    A few other thoughts:

    I think the team intended for the SUVs in this game to be put to use on the likes of Mirage Crossing and Wild West Enduro, so they might have opted against the AMG version because it would have had the lower, stiffer suspension and bigger wheels. Same reasoning for the diesel Land Cruiser.

    One can also play around at Wintertraum, trying out a 4WD system on the lumpy off-track area near the hairpin by the bridge. If you turn on the VGS display and find a spot to park that lifts one or two wheels in the air (the gravel trap inside the last corner of Marco Strada also has a spot to allow this), you can see how Enthusia engages the differentials, and how a car like the Jaguar X-Type 2.5 V6 Sport actually doesn't power both axles as well as other AWDs or part-time 4WDs. Perhaps that will be useful for your comparison. :)

    I thought it was a body-on-frame vehicle, but after double-checking I just learned it was a unibody, so it's really just a van. My parents had a Chevy with what I believe is the same V6 -- it's a noisy and thirsty mule of an engine.

    :D

    From my own experience, I expect the Pajero to win this comparo in the driving dynamics category!
     
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  3. Matej

    Matej Premium

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    Thanks, I will try it out. I never paid that much attention to what axles gets powered first, it is not something I could spot unless the camera is turned the way I want, but it's worth trying out. :)

    Regarding the VGS display, do you know what the full grey tires exactly represent?
    I always find the United States classification of trucks/vans confusing. It seems there is a separate van category, but all vans could technically belong to one of several truck categories based on the weight. If I'm not mistaken, even some SUVs are considered to be trucks, I think G-wagen is one of them, I recall a magazine in which they referred to it as a truck.
     
  4. Wolfe

    Wolfe Premium

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    As I understand it, the gray fill represents the proportion of force being exerted, up to the tire's limit.

    Over here, anything with the characteristic shape, floor area and design, sliding door(s), and seating arrangements of a van (or the lack thereof in the rear) is just a van, or minivan. We don't call that kind of design a truck, regardless of weight, although a full-size van can qualify for a truck license plate by weight.

    An SUV may sometimes be called a truck if it's an old-fashioned body-on-frame SUV like the G-wagen. Some domestic SUVs are just a pickup truck with a full cabin instead of a bed, siblings on the same platform. Few people refer to crossovers or unibody SUVs as trucks, in spite of how big and overweight some of them are these days.
     
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  5. Matej

    Matej Premium

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    BIG SUV COMPARISON - PART 2: FRIED EGGS

    ... taking part on...

    micika_13.JPG

    For Part 1 of the Big SUV Comparison click here. For Part 3 here.

    Do you have any idea who designs tracks like the Cosmic Eggway? Graphic designers? No. Cartoonists? No. Architects? No.


    Plumbers.


    That's right, plumbers. Every good plumber knows that to make ingenious track like this, all you gotta do is loosen a screw on water pipe and let few water pellets drop on the sink. For each drop you will have approximately 66,78% of chance to get a shape that resembles today's test track. God bless nature and its fruits bestowed upon us!


    This wasn't just a joke, I really meant it when I said this track is ingenious. In spite of its short length and seemingly meaningless layout, it has just about everything you need to learn your car and read its movements like a book. That last right hand sweeper is particularly handy, it accurately measures your car's maximum cornering speed and how it responds to throttle modulation, two highly important aspects of car behavior in the world of Enthusia. Few quick laps around this circuit and you'll be able to tell the difference between a chocolate shake and diarrhea in no time.


    Speaking of diarrhea, we have some right here. Who would like to break the ice and open the poo feast? Do I see a hand here...? Come on, G, make yourself comfortable!


    G500L


    The G fully lives on the engine's internal capability when going out for a quick lap. This circuit cannot truly reward speed, but every power advantage a car has will pay of on that small straight coming after the first hairpin.


    As I mentioned in the previous article, I don't think the 5.0 litre V8 engine is the most fitting choice for this type of car, but it posses enough grease to combat lack of body aerodynamics and give other candidates a hard time should they ever dare to challenge it to a drag battle. The peak power kicks in at 5500 rpm, and can be exerted if you're using manual transmission. The automatic shifts exactly at the peak point, disregarding that extra 500 units of the spare rev zone, and causes the needle to land much far from the ideal operating zone.

    micika_1.jpg

    When it comes to statistics, the G can do 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds on average, which is far from 10 seconds that the manufacturer suggests. I know that everyone would rather drive a faster G than slower, but they really went over the line with this. You can actually pretend you're driving AMG-prepped G-class.


    From my experience, the engine is a chatty fellow, and won't mind having a word with you if you don't mind listening. And I am sure listen you will, since it sounds so good. As soon as it sees a curve ahead, however, it shuts up and pretends it is not there. Not really surprising, I would zip it as well if I knew I am about to witness the great embarrassment of leaving the rest of the junk the G is at the mercy of cornering forces.


    The G adopts a body-on-frame construction, which allows the undercarriage to work with greater flexibility and more independently. This is great for an average off-road mud bath or when going over rocks, but it sucks for racing. Once you spend enough time with the car, you start to feel that the body isn't attached to the frame as usual, the feel is definitely different from other car,s and I am glad the developer thought about that. The car is never strained enough to instill some confidence into you when making a turn. If it could, I'm sure the body would tip over as soon as possible, but it can't, so all we get is body roll.


    If I am not mistaken, all G-classes have three locking differentials, and so does ours. In the game the front and rear act as if they are fully open, which is good for maneuverability, but messes up with the car's stability when leading it into a corner. Traction suffers as well. You would think the G would never have tire spinning problems with a classic all-wheel drive system providing full backing, but I regularly noticed inner wheel spinning after coming out of a corner, sometimes even when making a high-speed wide turn.

    micika_2.jpg

    Following the edges of the inner rumble strips was far tougher than I imagined because the car constantly wanted to dance around imaginary pole stabbed through the center of the body. Feathering the throttle doesn't help too much, because it seems every single change in weight distribution may cause imbalance in grip between tires.


    I was surprised at the car's strong tendency to go sideways during braking. I thought natural handling would be understeer, but it seems the developer had a different idea. This is kinda odd, and often unwelcome because it only throws the car out of pace in a very expressive way. I don't know if I should laugh at it or swear.


    Anyway, that's it for now. Time for a next bull, courtesy of Britain.


    RANGE ROVER


    Realizing how much heavier and powerless the Ranger is, I ruled out any thoughts about going after G for a place on ranking board. This might be seen as rushed decision, but all the odds are supporting it, even the reality itself. With the G I could lap the course in less than 33 seconds fairly quick, but with the Ranger it took me like 10 laps to get that far, and even then I still wasn't close to beating G's time. I figured out the BMW engine wouldn't be the card to rely on, so I started paying attention to other things that could portray the Ranger in a good light and save the day.


    And guess what, the Ranger drives better. For SUV standards, it feels pretty solid when you move the weight around. You don't have to be cautious with the throttle as much as on the G, and the car does not seem to rotate around its center of the body as it pleases. It drives acceptably for what it is, but for a better grade we would need to get rid of that understeer. The motion doesn't hit instantly, rather gradually, after the weight has been shifted on the rear and cornering has commenced. If not controlled, it can quickly transform into body roll and spice up things even more.

    micika_5.jpg

    There is one particular handling trait I noticed on the first corner, one that tells me a lot about how the car might perform on every other track with U-shaped turns. It seems the Ranger has a much wider turning angle than the G. This is not necessarily understeer getting in your way, it could be just the way the steering was set in first place. Because when I made sure the car was composed on approach to a corner, I still couldn't turn as much as I wanted. On tracks where exit speed plays a major role in being fast, this can be a burden.


    The rear end is not keen on stepping out, but when it is, you can slide it mildly and progressively by releasing the throttle at the right moment. This could be helpful on technical tracks. More oversteer would definitely hurt the car this heavy, so it is good what they did to the car to prevent it going apes***.


    So far I can say that the Ranger is more refined than its German rival. It may be slower, but is also easier to drive. Remember that the G is a military vehicle, unlike the Ranger that was built to serve ordinary people. Still, to beat the G, we'll need more than just refinement. I don't really expect much improvements on the next track the two will cross their swords on, but at least we can keep it ahead of the Land or Astro, the chaps we are moving on to next.


    LAND CRUISER


    Statistically, the Cruiser is horrendously bad. It weighs like an elephant, and resides in the E class together with all the low-powered critters with skinny tires. How we are going to compete against the rest of the squad?


    One thing you can't figure out from the class system in Enthusia is how the car will drive. You can guess, you can predict, but you can't know for sure. And that, my friends, is where the trick lies here. If you think poorly of the Cruiser because of its specs, you're in for surprise. When it comes to handling, the Cruiser is not just good. It is extraordinary.

    micika_4.jpg

    The steering precisely navigates the car as you turn, and the body doesn't object to any increase in pace. It is almost miraculous how much body roll the chassis can resist. For a car of this weight, the Cruiser sure has a commendable handling, and unlike the previous two, it succeeds in resembling a normal car rather well.


    To be honest, I heard rumors about its handling and steering before, but I never paid any attention to them as driving is rarely on mind of those who decide to buy a Land Cruiser. After testing the car in Enthusia, I can confirm that those rumors are indeed true, and that the owners of the Cruiser in real life have something to look forward to when they embark on a crusade with this 2.5 ton menace.


    There is no doubt that the Cruiser drives far better than both the G or Ranger combined together. The only problem is that it is seriously underpowered. The Cruiser would swallow a pile of G's dust particles whenever they would come to even slightly stretched portion of the circuit. The G did not need a full section to deport the Cruiser back to where it came from, everything was over at the first corner exit already. I couldn't even repel the Ranger from sending clouds of burnt gasoline into my face. Yeah, the Cruiser is that slow.

    micika_3.jpg

    Even if the Cruiser could outperform the G on corners, I don't think it could actually beat it. Not in Enthusia, not with this list of tracks. The engine simply doesn't have enough power for a racing circuit. You really have to keep the pedal down all the time to get at least acceptable acceleration. The good thing is that the engine is optimized to always run at its best. The gears are close to each other, ensuring the needle always stays around the peak power value.


    As far as driving is considered, this is currently the most enjoyable pick. If we find a track where acceleration won't mean much, then facing D-class SUVs won't be like banging your head against a brick wall.


    ASTRO


    I know what you're thinking; how could a van like this possibly compare to any normal SUV? Well, as long as it drives fine, it can be compared to almost anything. Surprisingly, the Astro meets this requirement.


    The reason Astro can corner fairly well is not that it has a good body or steering (remember this is a van?), but because it is essentially a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Exactly. Even though the game says it has a four-wheel drive system, most of the time the van's power goes to the rear axle. As soon as the sensors detect slip on the front axle, the system transfers some of the torque to it to help it regain grip. Pretty cool, eh? Some of the most exciting sports cars could only dream of having such drivetrain, but here we have it inside a cheap canister.


    The handling is here, but so is the speed, at least against the Cruiser. Once it picks up some, you can see it gaining on the Cruiser inch by inch. In spite of cutting through the air with zero efficiency, the body is undoubtedly notably lighter, resulting in higher top speed. If this was a high-speed course, the Cruiser would be in trouble, but straights on the Eggway circuit are way too short for the Astro to make a difference in lap times. That's why it has to look for its chances on corners.

    micika_8.jpg

    Unfortunately, it could not happen on corners either, and I think I know the reason. On the long sweeper the Astro's engine revved at such rpm that couldn't provide enough momentum for the van to keep on accelerating. The peak power hits at 4400 rpm, whereas the engine would constantly spin at around 3600. Wide alignment of gears takes away some of the power that would be helpful in keeping the Astro moving. If the gearbox was better, there is no doubt that the two things would have very similar cornering speeds.


    Still, that wouldn't guarantee neck and neck race as the Astro body posses no such rigidity to combat cornering forces in a way Cruiser can. At speed at which the Astro begins to slide, the Cruiser can still run at its maximum potential, and that is most obvious when facing a long turn. I have seen ghosted Cruiser passing by the Astro from a wider angle even when it was slightly behind. In general, the Astro was about 100 to 300 milliseconds slower on each lap attempt, and there was no way to improve this.


    Okay, we can now assume these two are the slowest things in the group. But what about the fastest ones? Two things left, are they the ones we're looking for? Or will the G remain on top?


    PAJERO


    Not with this guy around! To tell you the truth, I was stunned to see how quickly the Pajero climbed up the ladder. I couldn't believe when I saw Pajero's lap time ranked first! Finally, this proves that the world hasn't gone to hell yet. Somebody managed to beat the G, and I am so thankful for it!


    At first I thought I would be no match for it on straights given the power of the engine, but as it turned out, that V6 is a punchy little thing! In spite of being hundred ponies short, it didn't let the G breathe! I could stay close to it on straights, and deal with the rest on corners.


    Previously we mentioned that the Pajero is a rear-biased car, much like the Astro. Even though these two cars are bolts apart in terms of how they were built, their behavior is conceptually the same – pretty tight cornering with moderate understeer coming from the center of the body, rather than the front. Perhaps the biggest difference is that the Pajero feels much lighter to handle than the Astro, probably as a result of carrying a smaller body.

    micika_9.jpg

    From what I have experienced driving it, stability seems to be the biggest problem. Do some zigzagging and see if you can remain on track without spinning out of control. Yeah, disturbing its short wheelbase should not be on your 'to do' list, sudden changes in behavior that emerge as a result are difficult to neutralize.


    But we 'll see what happens in the last stage of our testing. I have a reason to believe both the Astro and Pajero will be entertaining to drive on our next track (or at least challenging, because I don't want to see myself having fun with these things), and that will be able to extract their drifting affinity to surface. But before that, let's do the final dance with 'das SUV'.


    TOUAREG


    Frankly, I thought the T-reg would level the rest of the pack without a sweat, being ahead in statistics than the rest and all that. But no, that didn't happen. I failed to stop the Pajero, and had to try really hard to outmaneuver the G. Wait, seriously? What is the world coming to?!


    It seems German engineers weren't particularly focused on strengthening the car as much as on advertising it. The chassis is loosened and makes the car feel unresponsive. It also seems LSD settings are open by default, which I didn't like on the G either.


    The V8 engine powering the T-reg has seen the bays of the Audi A8 and RS6, both of which can be driven in the game. It is powerful enough to carry out its task respectably, but without good body supporting it, it can't do much on its own. Test drive the A8 and you will see how much means for a car to have a good body.


    micika_11.jpg

    I do have to admit that even amateurs could drive the T-reg fairly fast. That's because the T-reg is a modern car, or at least it was by 2005's standards. No matter how poorly you aim for a corner, it seems you can always manage to get away without major consequences, almost as if the T-reg has a reserve of mechanical grip stored down there that helps the tires grip the road when you wouldn't think it is possible. But in spite of that, the weight is a problem, I can feel to much of it. If they worked on the body a bit more, it would have been much better to drive.


    The T-reg's natural tendency is to understeer, obviously. I heard Cayennes are slightly better in that regard, but that is understandable; do you really think Porsche would allow cheaper iteration of their model to be on the same level? VW had no choice but to make it worse somehow.


    From what I have found on the internet, the T-reg allegedly has a 38:62 torque split ratio electronically tuned to 50:50, whereas the Cayenne keeps its 38:62. Suspension parts and settings applied are different as well.


    micika_12.jpg

    It is not easy to control understeer due to open differentials and its soft body, but if you manage to do it, the T-reg will drive okay.

    While the T-reg could lap the course in less than 33 seconds, it wasn't refined enough to beat the Pajero. The next track could turn the tables around, you are going to see why once we get there!


    INTERMISSION

    Okay, below are the laps I achieved today. For some contenders it was terrifying experience, for some rather satisfying. But the real challenge has yet to be faced, and I can tell you right away that some of these things will trip over their own shoelaces.. rubbed, I guess. Do SUVs wear shoes anyway? It seems like a stupid question, but from the way they handle curves, I would say so!

    Anyway, stay tuned for last part of my SUV comparison!

    LAP TIMES ON COSMIC EGGWAY
    32'357 - Pajero
    32'567 - Touareg
    32'653 - G500L
    32'948 - Range Rover
    33'300 - Land Cruiser
    33'327 - Astro
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
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  6. Matej

    Matej Premium

    Messages:
    1,936
    Location:
    Croatia
    BIG SUV COMPARISON - PART 3: SIMON SAYS: SLIDE!

    …taking part on…​

    Wintertraum.jpg

    For Part 1 of the Big SUV Adventure click here. For Part 2 here.


    Welcome to my nightmare.


    The final chapter of my SUV adventure is going to present the biggest challenge yet, for both the driver (me) and the cars.


    The Wintertraum circuit stands for one of the toughest tracks in the game. Lots of elevation changes make driving on slippery surface a traumatic experience, worthy of the track's name. There is one thing you have to remember about this track, it doesn’t tolerate excessive speeding or sloppy driving. If you plan on diving into corners like you would in GT4 or Forza, better get that insurance policy in order because you re going to use it a lot! Aggressive driving just doesn’t work here. Only patient drivers with calm foot and maxed out concentration will be able to stay away from walls and set some respectable laps.


    But wait, if we have four-wheel drive cars, why do we have to worry about that? Can't we just pin the throttle pedal down and watch the magic happening?

    Screenshot_34.jpg

    Ha-ha, you would love that, wouldn’t you? Well, it doesn't work that way. While it is true that all-wheel drive cars would have the advantage of steady traction in conditions like these, this mostly applies to cars that posses strengths and stamina of Greek athletes. Cars such as Lancer Evolution or Subaru Impreza, not these garbage dumpsters we have on test.

    Think about it. All six cars together weigh almost 14 tons, and that's a lot of fat for drivetrains and tires to handle. Even the asphalt would protest! I can imagine it saying: „Please take these things off me, PLEASE!“


    Anyway, you have to be very careful not to slide in inappropriate moment. I practiced a lot on this track with each car to get good reference times, and the task was everything but easy.


    G500L

    I rolled out of the bed early in the morning to stretch the legs of the mighty G and prepare some nice benchmark laps for other candidates. One of the reasons I would always start with the G is that it sits somewhere in the middle of the pack as far as times are considered, so it gets easier for me to notice how much improvements or declination other cars can offer in comparison.


    While conditions on the track were now far worse for an average SUV, I found the G to be easier to control. That is not because the G has become a better car all of a sudden, worry not. It is because average speed on this track is much lower, so weight transfer makes a lot of less impact on car's behavior. I don't think I experienced even half of its pivot point rotational tricks from the last time. Low speed forces you to treat the car carefully and doesn't give the weight a chance to play with the car and screw you up.

    rt (2).jpg

    Though weight no longer played a primary role in controlling the car, it still made the car tough to drive, mostly because of the body on frame construction that delays any feedback going from body to suspension and vice versa.


    For that reason it is recommended to avoid sliding the G as the car isn’t responsive enough to carry out such action with success. Its default handling characteristics aren’t helping much either. As soon as the rear end steps out (during heavy braking), the front axle takes the baton and starts directing the car towards the outside. If you try to recover from massive oversteer by applying the throttle, open differential on the front axle will step in and do the same thing to you again. No matter what you do, you can not force the car to drift around the apex. Body roll and understeer are always in “stand by”, waiting for a trigger on you part to activate.


    Therefore, it is best to keep G's paws glued to the road all the time. Previously we mentioned that the G has a surprisingly tight turning angle, which is another reason you should prevent skidding the car. Curving apexes in a quick fashion cannot be achieved if understeer is interfering.


    Changing directions from within the car is said to be very discreditable task for the G. Out of all things related to driving, steering seems to be the biggest concern for most drivers. They say it is terrible, but I couldn't agree or disagree with that based on what I experienced in the game. Sluggish movements of the body are definitely making my job harder, but even if they didn’t, I doubt I would feel anything, or that the developer went that far to replicate unresponsiveness of the wheel. All I can say is that it does the job it is supposed to do, and that you have more important aspects of the car to worry about.

    Screenshot_7.jpg

    Traction seems to be a problem. It becomes evident when you try to leave a corner with more zest in your foot. I would recommend strengthening that LSD. I increased both values to maximum levels and did not feel any negative side-effects.


    All in all, the G can clear the track fairly fast as long as you stick to traditional grip driving.


    LAND

    Impressive performance displayed at the Eggway circuit led me to think the Land would be invincible on this snowy path. I was thinking like, if there was a track in this game where the Land could turn the tables on its rivals, this has to be it.


    For such heavy body the steering is spot on, and perfectly adequate for corners that come in succession. The body can follow changes in weight distribution without objections and traction is always present. I do not recall losing grip on any occasion, though that could be result of slower nature the car is crippled with.


    Sliding with the Land was possible, but I felt it would be smart to prevent it so that I do not lose any more speed than I am already losing after each corner. Even if the Land could have enough momentum to benefit from sliding around an apex, I don’t think this would be something it would wanted. From the way the body behaves I think it is better to stick to classic grip driving and make the best use of mechanical grip generated by excellent collaboration between the chassis and tires.

    Screenshot_124.jpg

    Although the lack of power was plain obvious once again, this time being slow did have its advantage. Speed gradually increases as you accelerate, giving you plenty of time to focus on steering inputs and how you lead the car into corners. On several occasions this was of highest importance to staying close to the G. Controlling your speed is a very difficult task on this track, but the Land does the job for you.


    I still couldn't beat the G though. No matter how much corners we had to clear, there was always a section on the circuit where wheels wouldn't be turning and throttle pedals would be kissing the metal. On these parts, however small they may be, the G would happily demonstrate how much of a difference supply of power makes. It's funny to see the Land catching up with the G on corners and then falling back on straights, especially on the last portion of the circuit, which pretty much placed the G out of my sight.


    But don’t get the wrong idea. The G is not a better car by any means, it is just faster. I am sure that in normal circumstances where power of both car is close to similar, the G would need to fight for every single inch of the track to stay ahead, especially if its driver is not used to open diffs. Sadly, for the J100 generation Toyota did not have a comparable engine that would make such scenarios possible. Only with the J200 generation lots of high-powered engines started to appear, some of which produced from 300 to whopping 380 horsepower. Consider yourself lucky, G.

    Screenshot_133.jpg

    I really wanted to level the G with the Land, you know. It would have been a tremendous achievement for both the car and its driver (me). Unfortunately, at the end of that tunnel, there was no light, only G parked on a pedestal in all its glory. What an ugly sight.


    Was the Astro torch light we needed?


    No, we would have been better walking blind in dark for rest of our lifes.


    ASTRO

    The idea of beating the G with the Astro never crossed my mind as I knew right from the start that would be impossible to achieve. My goal was to try surpass the Land and find out how entertaining the Astro could prove to be. Remember how we said it has a RWD configuration without actually being a RWD van? In normal situations this would make for an awesome driving experience.


    Breaking traction on the rear axle is a piece of cake, everyone could do it here. Most of the time it happens when the van is decelerating and turning at the same time, or when you are leaving a corner with throttle partially or fully opened.


    You can drift the van by gradually opening the throttle as it goes around apex sliding. The good news is that feathering is rarely a necessity since the front axle assists in preventing the van from spinning out by slightly pushing it forwards. That is a benefit you get from a four-wheel drive car with a rear bias, most reliable source of amusement on tracks like this.

    Screenshot_21.jpg

    It can’t do everything on its own, though, so you have to keep eye on your steering inputs because you don’t want the van to drift at too much angle and risk turning the slide into body roll. Catching the van with the wheel at the right moment can save you a lot of speed and trouble.


    Our van is definitely keen on playing, but does that make it a good toy to play with? Yeah, in normal circumstances. But the Astro is everything but normal. It isn’t abnormal either. It is just bad.


    Poorly aligned gearbox didn’t get all the limelight this time. It sure was trying to, by continuously taking away all the gunpowder from the engine and ticking me off, but it could not match flimsy body that is completely unsuitable for any sort of spirited driving, especially on a track covered in snowflakes.


    Trying to match Land's pace on corners was a nightmare. The van posses no such rigidity that would make the job a bit easier for you.

    Screenshot_22.jpg

    The major problem is that the Astro wants to slide all the time. It doesn’t matter if the corner is tight or wide; if the inner wheel can spin faster than the outer, there is a good chance the rear end will step out. You can drive slower to avoid skidding, but you will lose too much of your lap time doing that.


    The Astro completely flopped on this track and I have to be honest with you, it was too tough to drive to be fun. I would have more success trying to slice bread with spoon then trying to force this thing to behave.


    I can’t wait to see how the Pajero will manage this track.


    RANGE

    Dropping in the Range after the Astro was a rejoicer. I never thought I could enjoy it as much as I did now.


    The body and suspension work as one, which helps a lot on corners where poor feedback can result in mistake on driver's part. You can also smoothly shift the weight from the rear wheels, though sliding is not recommended as recovering from it results in understeer.


    Following classic in-fast out mantra proved to be the easiest to achieve so far. Instead of pulling tricks and surprising the driver, the Ranger remains calm and stable regardless of what kind of corner it faces. That could be its greatest advantage; although it is a bit ordinary to drive (read: boring) in the long run, it helps you achieve consistent and clean lap times.

    Screenshot_56.jpg

    The biggest problem is that the Ranger doesn’t want to turn! Going around a tight corner without understeer interfering is just as important as being able to go around it fast. The Ranger was powerful enough to stay ahead of the Land, but on corners it was seriously pressured. It simply couldn’t turn as much as the Land. Therefore, I was not surprised to see the laps of both cars being dead close. Driver operating the Ranger should be pushing very hard from the beginning if he wants to take advantage of the last several hundred meters of high-speed driving. On my first serious run against the Land I learned that the hard way.


    PAJERO

    In some way driving the Pajero was a trip to the past since I experienced similar behavior on the Astro. The biggest difference is that the Pajero is smaller and better built, so it doesn’t roll as much.


    Previously we made a comment on the car's stability. Even though it was a simple course with two corners, I felt its short wheelbase could easily throw the car out of control had it been given a chance. On a track like this things dramatically change, instead of seeking trouble, now the trouble seeks you. Every slide can potentially be hazardous if the driver lets his guard down.

    Screenshot_86.jpg

    You have to be careful when counter-steering, it can snap back so quickly and easily. The front axle is responsible for some of this because good deal of torque goes straight to it. While it is a great ally when controlling drifts with your accelerator, it can stab you into back if you decide to recover from a drift in an inappropriate way. On the S curve near the river I was particularly frightened; it seems even sudden change in direction could unsettle the car and throw it out of the line. It took me like three attempts to clear it properly. Pay attention to how the car starts sliding, especially on your way out of a corner.


    After debacle with the Astro's gearbox, I decided to pay more attention to shift points and acceleration in different rpm spots. This engine does not have that misfortune to be paired to a bad gearbox, so it is not restrained from showing you all the fireworks. The engine is not the only thing that makes Pajero fast around the track, but it sure plays an important role.


    When understeer hits you, it hits you hard. Usually it happens on long corners where speed is controlled with the accelerator, but even on approach to a sharp one you are not spared that misery. Setting consistent laps proved to be difficult, but when you finally make some, these are miles away from the Astro's.


    Basically, it has all characteristics of a short wheelbase car I hate from bottom of my heart. Four-wheel drive system somehow keeps the car in control, but it is still tricky to drive.


    T-REG

    When nothing else seem to work, the T-reg is the last resort for outclassing the opposition and saving the face of the exhausted driver.

    Screenshot_110.jpg

    The T-reg is a decent SUV, no doubts about that. Modern in-built technologies allow you to stay in control when most of other cars would fail miserably. That doesn’t mean you can relax when lapping the course, only that you will have more room for trying out different lines and experimenting with drifts.


    Probably the best thing about it is that it brings together all the good bits from its rivals. It has a powerful engine, enough mechanical grip, decent turning angle, and stability of a normal car. Spirited drivers could further wish for more oversteer-biased handling, but even in this state you aren’t limited to actions you can execute on corners.


    Actually, the T-reg was the closest of the six to mimicking a rally car. Sometimes it is even advisable to skid the rear end a bit as I found this a good way to control understeer on approach to a corner with moderate decline in average speed. At one point I even considered pitting it against a sports AWD car, but after realizing how stupid that would look on replays, I gave up from the idea. Don’t blame me, blame the car and its appearance.

    Screenshot_95.jpg

    The closest competitor would be the Pajero, but only in terms of lap times. The Pajero is far harder to drive and in a midst of a dogfight it would succumb to the pressure in a blink of an eye. Perhaps the G would stood a chance, though it would need to be operated by a good driver, not some Hollywood actor.


    I still think its body is T-reg's greatest weakness. You should start stiffening spring and damper values as these settings will help you counter body roll.


    And to answer our question from the first article - no, it doesn’t drive like a Porsche. Not even close.


    CONCLUSION

    This thing should be pulling anti-tank guns and transporting fallen soldiers away from a battlefield. It would be far more useful doing some agricultural duties than racing on a circuit. But the fact we have to face is that the G performed fairly well here. It sits right in the midst of the pack, and thanks to slightly enhanced abilities compared to ones of the real car, it can often knock on doors of the runner-up if its driver is good (and brave).

    The Astro offers a step up from classic RWD characteristics, but to be considered for a decent race, it would need to have a better gearbox and tougher body. There is one special merit reserved exclusively for vehicles like the Astro - if this was Gran Turismo or Forza, people would be all over it. Being a van it screams for modifications and virtual maintenance even real-life owners would be jealous of.

    The T-reg is not a great car, but as far as SUVs on this test are considered, it is the closest thing you’ll get to a normal car. If only it wasn’t so heavy, god dammit! Look how much stuff they put into it. They weren’t holding back on the equipment, that's for sure. Minor tuning can turn it into something more engaging.

    Screenshot_59.jpg

    The Land was really impressive, but way to slow to be a driver's car. Still, kudos to Toyota for trying. Reach that level 10 with it and hope it will gain at least a little more speed.

    The Pajero is a tricky bastard, but when all puzzles are in place, it is very fast. I did not find it enjoyable due to all the tricks its wheelbase can pull on the driver when it feels like. I presume the 5-door model would be better, but we got what we got.

    The Ranger needs to learn how to steer. More powerful engine wouldn’t hurt either. Predictable to drive, but safe.

    Here are the lap times:

    LAPS TIMES ON WINTERTRAUM:
    1’34.504 - Touareg
    1’34.840 - Pajero
    1’34.983 - G
    1’36.022 - Range
    1’36.104 - Land
    1’38.311 - Astro


    And that is it. Enthusia has such a lovely physics engine that makes even dullest and slow cars worthy your time. I hope you had a ball reading the articles as much I as I had writing them. Thank you and feel free to leave a comment. :)
     
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