Car of the Week | Week 62: The Red Standard (Red Bull X2014 Standard Car)

I'm going to rerun the lap on GT7 with fuel and tire wear enabled like I said earlier. I've also dug up my GT Sport copy and will do the same on that just to make sure it's on fair grounds.
Just a reminder that the Copen comes stock with Sport Hard tyres in GTS and Comfort Mediums in GT7. The Sport Hard tyres were way too grippy for the car last time I ran it in GTS' COTW, but it should in theory still be faster than Comfort Mediums.

Alex runs Sport Hard tyres on all his GTS road car tests.

Is the fuel consumption x1 activated? If not, that will affect maybe 10s or more to nordschleife lap time for low power car like Copen because without fuel consumption enabled game runs them on empty tank without weight penalty and different balance.

I know for a fact that cars with about 150 hp it's about 4-6 seconds.
Also, regarding the fuel issue, is there any research done to show that fuel con off gives players an empty tank instead of the full 100ℓ? The HUD shows a full tank with fuel con off, after all. If there has been research and testing done, can anyone please point me to it? I'm quite interested.

Let's not get out of hand here.

...whoops :)
 
Last edited:
Let's not get out of hand here.

I'm going to rerun the lap on GT7 with fuel and tire wear enabled like I said earlier. I've also dug up my GT Sport copy and will do the same on that just to make sure it's on fair grounds.
You don't need to. @XSquareStickIt is right, the difference is explained by it being two different games! I was dumb enough not to think about that. Sorry guys! It also makes lots of sense, because I tested some road cars in both games and the difference in lap times in SAME conditions can range anywhere from 2 to 20 (yes TWENTY!) seconds! It's not the case with race cars though, those tend to be very similarly quick in both games, sometimes even slower in GT7. Again, sorry guys!
 
Last edited:
You don't need to. @XSquareStickIt is right, the difference is explained by it being two different games! I was dumb enough not to think about that. Sorry guys! It also makes lots of sense, because I tested some road cars in both games and the difference in lap times in SAME conditions can range anywhere from 2 to 20 (yes TWENTY!) seconds! It's not the case with race cars though, those tend to be very similarly quick in both games, sometimes even slower in GT7. Again, sorry guys!
No worries! I did want to point out one other thing with this car. Citing my own comments from my review:
My recommendation, and the recommendation of anyone who has done even a single round in the Copen Cup, is to shift at 8100 at the latest.
Another recommendation is to stay a gear up in a corner. If the game's gear indicator is recommending a corner be navigated in 2nd, it is more advantageous to stay in 3rd throughout the corner thanks to the higher torque at lower RPMs.
So with that in mind, lemme point out the differences between Alex's lap and my lap. As a learning opportunity, and a chance to analyze the differences between GTS/GT7, mind you. Alex is a capable driver and I just want to see if the whole thing can really be chalked up to just physics differences.

The laps are essentially identical up until Flugplatz. The GTS Copen loses a few kmh going into the double right-hander at Flugplatz while the GT7 Copen stays at about 139-140 kph. This has the effect of the GT7 Copen gaining extra speed on exit, and able to shift into 5th gear three seconds sooner than the GTS Copen.

Right at the crest before Schwedenkreuz, the GT7 Copen is about two seconds ahead.

At Aremberg, the GT7 Copen stays in 4th while the GTS Copen shifts down to 3rd. GT7 holds the corner at 100 kph while GTS holds at 98. I think the added gearshift on corner exit may have hurt the GTS Copen's pace through the next sector. GT7 shifts to 5th a little sooner.

GT7 lap stays in 4th through Metzgesfeld while GTS downshifts to 3rd, they stay in their respective gears through Kallenhard (which definitely would've impacted the GTS Copen as it was near redline and well past the power drop-off at that point), + upshift out of Kallenhard for GTS.

GTS Copen downshifts into 2nd at Wehrseifen, and shifts down to 3rd at Ausfahrt Breidscheid while GT7 Copen is at 3rd and 4th respectively. At this point, the GT7 Copen is still only about 2 seconds faster.

GTS downshift/upshift at Bergwerk while GT7 stays in 4th. Going into Kesselchen, the GT7 copen gets a few KMH advantage over the GTS copen (as the GTS copen stayed in 3rd instead of going into 4th). This, combined with the tailwind blowing from behind the GT7 copen all the way to Mutkurve means that the GT7 copen ends up hitting 131 kph while the GTS copen hits 121 kph.

This means the gap at the apex to Mutkurve is now 5 seconds. Thanks to the tailwind and speed difference, the gap widens by the time both cars hit Klostertal, up to 8 seconds.

The GT7 Copen gets a much stronger run on the uphill section leading to the Carousel, with a speed difference of about 6 kph by the time the cars have to brake for the corner.

On the run from the Karoussel to Hohe Acht, the GT7 copen upshifts while the GTS copen elects to stay in 3rd. This ends up scrubbing a lot of potential speed off the GTS Copen going into Hohe Acht (as it's running into the power drop past 8100 RPM). Combined with the tailwind, it causes a 5 kph difference.

In the left-left-right complex immediately after Hohe Acht, the GT7 copen carries a tiny bit more speed. The cars are pretty even between there and the Youtube corner (Brunnchen).

From there to the end of the lap, there are a few more instances where the GTS lap downshifted while the GT7 car stayed a gear up and that all added up to the big gap between laps. The most egregious gear choice difference is in Galgenkopf, where the GT7 car shifted up to 5th midway through the corner while the GTS car stayed in 4th. That absolutely would've had an impact on the overall speed of the Copen going down the Dottinger Hohe, as the car would not need to waste time shifting up to 5th.

So ultimately, I'm going to chalk the gap up to three major factors:
1) The Copen seems to be able to carry more speed in many of the higher speed corners in GT7. It scrubs a little less speed under those high G-loads.
2) A huge tailwind helping the GT7 Copen through one of the fastest parts of the track
3) The GT7 Copen staying a gear up in some technical sections, allowing it to spend less time shifting gears, as well as different gear choices in crucial sectors giving the GT7 car an advantage on exit.

I have to commend Alex, though. Looking at his lines and general pace, he was putting in one hell of an effort with that car.
 
No worries! I did want to point out one other thing with this car. Citing my own comments from my review:


So with that in mind, lemme point out the differences between Alex's lap and my lap. As a learning opportunity, and a chance to analyze the differences between GTS/GT7, mind you. Alex is a capable driver and I just want to see if the whole thing can really be chalked up to just physics differences.

The laps are essentially identical up until Flugplatz. The GTS Copen loses a few kmh going into the double right-hander at Flugplatz while the GT7 Copen stays at about 139-140 kph. This has the effect of the GT7 Copen gaining extra speed on exit, and able to shift into 5th gear three seconds sooner than the GTS Copen.

Right at the crest before Schwedenkreuz, the GT7 Copen is about two seconds ahead.

At Aremberg, the GT7 Copen stays in 4th while the GTS Copen shifts down to 3rd. GT7 holds the corner at 100 kph while GTS holds at 98. I think the added gearshift on corner exit may have hurt the GTS Copen's pace through the next sector. GT7 shifts to 5th a little sooner.

GT7 lap stays in 4th through Metzgesfeld while GTS downshifts to 3rd, they stay in their respective gears through Kallenhard (which definitely would've impacted the GTS Copen as it was near redline and well past the power drop-off at that point), + upshift out of Kallenhard for GTS.

GTS Copen downshifts into 2nd at Wehrseifen, and shifts down to 3rd at Ausfahrt Breidscheid while GT7 Copen is at 3rd and 4th respectively. At this point, the GT7 Copen is still only about 2 seconds faster.

GTS downshift/upshift at Bergwerk while GT7 stays in 4th. Going into Kesselchen, the GT7 copen gets a few KMH advantage over the GTS copen (as the GTS copen stayed in 3rd instead of going into 4th). This, combined with the tailwind blowing from behind the GT7 copen all the way to Mutkurve means that the GT7 copen ends up hitting 131 kph while the GTS copen hits 121 kph.

This means the gap at the apex to Mutkurve is now 5 seconds. Thanks to the tailwind and speed difference, the gap widens by the time both cars hit Klostertal, up to 8 seconds.

The GT7 Copen gets a much stronger run on the uphill section leading to the Carousel, with a speed difference of about 6 kph by the time the cars have to brake for the corner.

On the run from the Karoussel to Hohe Acht, the GT7 copen upshifts while the GTS copen elects to stay in 3rd. This ends up scrubbing a lot of potential speed off the GTS Copen going into Hohe Acht (as it's running into the power drop past 8100 RPM). Combined with the tailwind, it causes a 5 kph difference.

In the left-left-right complex immediately after Hohe Acht, the GT7 copen carries a tiny bit more speed. The cars are pretty even between there and the Youtube corner (Brunnchen).

From there to the end of the lap, there are a few more instances where the GTS lap downshifted while the GT7 car stayed a gear up and that all added up to the big gap between laps. The most egregious gear choice difference is in Galgenkopf, where the GT7 car shifted up to 5th midway through the corner while the GTS car stayed in 4th. That absolutely would've had an impact on the overall speed of the Copen going down the Dottinger Hohe, as the car would not need to waste time shifting up to 5th.

So ultimately, I'm going to chalk the gap up to three major factors:
1) The Copen seems to be able to carry more speed in many of the higher speed corners in GT7. It scrubs a little less speed under those high G-loads.
2) A huge tailwind helping the GT7 Copen through one of the fastest parts of the track
3) The GT7 Copen staying a gear up in some technical sections, allowing it to spend less time shifting gears, as well as different gear choices in crucial sectors giving the GT7 car an advantage on exit.

I have to commend Alex, though. Looking at his lines and general pace, he was putting in one hell of an effort with that car.
Now I DO want you to give your best in GTS after all though! :P
 
Challenge accepted. :mischievous: First thing on my to-do when I get home from work.
Waiting...
tenor (28).gif
 
Last edited:
200.gif

Seems to me that you're all in need of some Copen-ium 😂

I'm only a month in to GT7, and need to get a pesky Lambo and Citroen before the invites expire. Once I get those out of the way, I can be more relaxed about the LCD cars as they don't involve RNGs!, so plan to join in the thread at that point.

In the meantime, I'll have a think about what to include in my patented testing programme "Cutback's Car Tests"...
 
200.gif

Seems to me that you're all in need of some Copen-ium 😂

I'm only a month in to GT7, and need to get a pesky Lambo and Citroen before the invites expire. Once I get those out of the way, I can be more relaxed about the LCD cars as they don't involve RNGs!, so plan to join in the thread at that point.

In the meantime, I'll have a think about what to include in my patented testing programme "Cutback's Car Tests"...

Copen-ium haha
tenor (18).gif
 
5E986DD7-4601-4AE7-924C-C22FE220348E.jpeg


Old rig, meet new rig. And I can’t think of a better way to test a new 20nm motor, than a 60hp Daihatsu!!!

In all seriousness though, I can’t wait for tonight! Think I might use my old rig, however. If my first online race was any indication, then I need a lot more acclimation time before I ruin more people’s races. Plus, my H-Pattern is still on the other rig, and I’m rowing gears tonight!!
 
Last edited:
SPD Writes Gran Turismo 7's Car Of The Week: Week 2 - Daihatsu Copen Active Top (L880K)


full

Week 2 of wherever I write Car Of The Week has to come in something extremely light, eh?


Oh, here's something I don't ever get to touch when I get to write for cars in Mini Mexico: a Kei car, because we hardly get any of those around there. Anything small around there are just either memes, waste of materials, memes, Vocho, memes and memes. I question the car choices in that game sometimes. That thinking isn't exempt here.. because the Vocho is here too, but definitely not for this car.

Initially known as the Kopen, the Daihatsu Copen was conceived as early as 1999, giving awe to the Kei car market thanks to its signature active top. It then eventually went to the public in 2002, and what they got was a car that showed Kei cars don't have to only live to cope with the early economic crisis of which its kind was born under. Copen apparently is an acronym for Compact and Open.

But aside the fancy robo roof, the Copen came with apparently some appeal to performance lovers too. With Daihatsu's own 660cc 4 cylinder JB-DET engine putting its power uniquely to the front wheels, and cutting no corners in producing a quality sports car, the Copen was not only a success in Japan, but exported to select Commonwealth countries a year later. It even got a few variants, such as one with double the displacement of 1300cc for foreign markets, and an extra sporty 100th anniversary edition for Daihatsu as a company, but that's where we end this small (intended, deal with it) breakdown of Daihatsu's first big step in the sporty Kei car market.

On with this week's story. And when the Copen came out to be the 2nd week's car, the story writer in me just let out a big NO, not because the car sucks or anything. It's all a coincidence, but I've delegated certain roster members daily drivers for realism. The Copen so happen to landed on one, directly related to the mystery name Candy received by the 2 artistic Japanese tuning youths. I was hoping that name would never come up for a while, since each week's story is made up the moment I see the announcement, but I guess I gotta play this.

I promised myself we're getting out of Japan, and despite this pro-Japan theme, we are. Staying in a certain region for longer than a week might not happen, but I'm not enforcing this.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Episode 2: Returning To The Past


Pacific Coast Highway Police Station
Northern end of California Route 1
Late Morning



A small office for the police in the middle of a small community, .

Right now, work is bare. The officers fill their time processing documents, excepting those handling the lone man not wearing uniform.

Our attention begins with that person, wearing a singlet complimented by his khakis and combat boots. Jolly, he exits the building and steps down the stairs, whistling a tune, taking out his prescription sunglasses with swagger.

At the end, he makes a quick turn to see the police chief, familiar with his antics.



??? :"You's all been nice, but I gotta get gone, you hear?"

Chief :"Stay outta trouble, now, mister stunt driver. You're getting awfully familiar with that cell.."


The windows by the police station have something else to say thanks to the small horde of female police officers saying their goodbyes like fans of a celebrity.

"Come back soon!"
"Be sure to remember us when you beat the land speed record!"
"Mr. Carlyle, you're always welcome!!"
"We'll be your safety net, sir!"
"Don't be shy, we're together now."


Giving his farewells with a charming salute, this odd mix of a chubby but athletic fellow: Carlyle van Orrin, heads towards the parking lot.

With initial thoughts of his own car, he remembers he's owed a favor and heads towards the only car he recognizes in the area: a small brown sports convertible.



full



Familiar with his friend's vehicle, he shows disapproval with his rough sultry voice.


Carlyle :"Oh good God almighty. This little midget.. Jess didn't bring the Lexus.."


As the name pops up, said Jess however was nowhere to be seen.


Carlyle :"And here's an in-te-resting quandary we gots ourselves in."


He didn't think to remain, so he paced left and right to find the first woman passing by. He got his eyes on one running by with her dogs.


Carlyle :"Pardon me, ma'am."

Woman :"Oh? What can I do you for?"

Carlyle :"Forgive me for I shouldn't be interrupting you'se uhh morning exercise with these fine pooches. Was wondering if yous seen this woman, I describe: Asian Japanese. Dark red hairdo. Maybe dressed up tight and sporty. Built [aroused] fine.."


He postured his right hand, pointed flat, correcting it until he gets it to the bottom of his neck.


Carlyle :"And about this here high. Oh and she's an incredibly HOT living being, not some imaginary fool or whatever you gots thinking in that noggin."


Just as the facts came to an end, the searching began. And from where they stand, people of all kinds come in.


Woman :"Hmm.. Well, we're out of luck with all these people about."


It's brief, but they know the search is going nowhere. Carlyle put his focus on the dogs.


Carlyle :"Yup. This ain't good. Who's a good puppy? Y'all are!"


Just when it looked like Waldo was to remain hidden forever, a woman matching Carlyle's description speeds through, donned in custom rollerblades with specially crafted rollerblading gear.

The rollerblader slipped through the lady and her dogs, making her stop by the Copen's rear.



Carlyle :"Actually, I apologize for taking yer time, I might've found her. Forgot she's into rollerblading. I'll let yous and your cute little pups go and get yourselves gone now."

Woman :"Well, mister detective, I'm glad this is how it ended up. So long."

Carlyle :"You, and your little fluffs of cuteness, take care now."


He turns and makes his move to the rollerblading woman: the sporty, Japanese born Interpol agent Rin Nishimura, often referred to as Jess by select people and while in the US.

Taking off her sports gear, she arranges it in the boot and gets a quick spray to manage her sweat. Carlyle isn't being subtle, but she sees him, already alert of his presence.



Rin :"Not even 20 seconds out, and he's going ham on a local and her fuzzy friends.."


To respond, the man had an objection in his head..


Carlyle :"Rin, baby! That wasn't what it looked like. I swear them dogs are just irresistable little things."


Exhausted and uncaring, she mainly ignored it.


Rin :"Uh-huh."


His following concerns cover the brief but unwanted wait, ready with a playfully raised voice..


Carlyle :"You trying to give me a heart attack with these unwarranted skate sessions, Jessiebelle."

Rin :"Don't judge me, Lyle-san. You look healthy still, but your BMI isn't a good look for me or any good lady I know, trust me. Plus I knew you'd take long."


Mentally looking at himself, he responds..


Carlyle :"What? Can't everyone's favorite van Orrin say goodbye to his admirers?"

Rin :"I don't mind you doing that, but.. you have admirers all over whatever state you decide is a green light for speeding."


He's a cool character, and her challenges didn't disturb that.

Leaning on the Copen's roof, Carlyle reaffirms the facts..



Carlyle :"They don't gotta know Carlyle's got his favorites everywhere, you dig?"

Rin :"Hah, yes. I swear I was part of this game once. The Carlyle V.O. special unit, a team of the 10 most often police officers you decide hit on. A team brought together by your mother: the soon to be police chief.."

Carlyle :"Haha, [snorts] yeah, that was a good memory. Alright, I get caught a lot, but you police people aren't pushovers."


He notices how he towers above the Copen, leading to a change of pace..


Carlyle :"You didn't take the Lexus?"

Rin :"What, you want me to? Should've asked. Or rather.. you're a big man.."


She was sassy just a minute ago, but then, it changes with a playful tease, complete with pulling down her lower eye..


Rin :"Sor-RY~"


Carlyle responds with a certain line preceding a certain action from a certain cartoon..


Carlyle :"WHY YOU LITTLE-"


They're friends, but a little too much banter can go a long way in the wrong direction.

While his intents are clear, the two had a change in posture, while not even moved a step.

A weird brief pause passed.



Rin :"So, you're NOT going to choke me?"

Carlyle :"Relax, Jess. There are cops probably watching me now so if I did get you's, there are charges up the ass."


They both laughed it off, resumed their actions, and got in the car.


With nothing left to do, the Copen started and left the area.


full



While driver side Rin isn't bothered with the size, she starts to understand her passenger's complaints.

Those complaints come in various form of audible sounds, eventually going to a full sentence.



Carlyle :"Honestly, I had to pull some really thin strings to get that car here in discount price. So I'd appreciate it when your old pal Carlyle using his underground smuggling ring connections to sell to your Interpol gang at a marked down shebang!"

Rin :"Well, you're going to have to live with the Copen for now. It's one of the many things my father brought to me as inheritance, and I will appreciate these gifts."

Carlyle :"That so? I hope you won't roll us over.."


It might be minor, but she didn't like that last comment..


Rin :"Or I could drop you off at the side when I can, Lyle-san.."

Carlyle :"I-I mean no such ill will, Jess! I'd like it if it was the Lexus, but this uh here.. umm.. what is it?"

Rin :"Copen. Daihatsu Copen."

Carlyle :"This ain't in my alley for sure.."

Rin :"What, don't you smuggling folk know about Kei cars?"

Carlyle :"I does, I does. See, you got yerself that mini NSX.. and the Cappucino.. and that Mazda Autozam whatsit."

Rin :"Ehh.. not a passing mark. Tsk tsk.."

Carlyle :"To be fair, out of Japan, you don't get much people wanting these baby mobiles."


The car leaves the town area and heads south via California Highway 1.

She had planned to drive towards the main Los Angeles area, but had to ask..



Rin :"So where we heading?"


A little slump isn't stopping Carlyle from using his phone at the time


Carlyle :"Uhh, I'll let you know; gotta get on the boys at chat. I gots out of jail, where's the bird, SEND."

Rin :"What'd they get you for this time? Another of your 200 mile per hour adventures, Lyle-san?"

Carlyle :"You knows it, baby. Adrenaline is in my soul. But little did I know: I ran out of gas in the middle of a chase! That's what happens when the bird drinks cheap fuel. I got my buddies in The List scrubbing that ride clean, drink quality oil and ready to roll."


Despite understanding he's probably getting to pay fines and get a mark on his incredibly marked license, Rin only had one response..


Rin :"Teeheehee.. um, and where is that car?"


He looks back at the screen where the answer awaits.


Carlyle :"Ahh. Cool. You heard of that new FIA track Grand Valley just outta Highway 1?"


She's questioning the oblivious Carlyle not knowing, but more importantly her inner opinion changed that subject.


Rin :"I.. uhh.. hmm.. weird."

Carlyle :"What's on your mind, Jess?"

Rin :"They moved it here.. in Big Sur?"

Carlyle :"What, was Grand Valley someplace else? How's that possible?"

Rin :"Uhh, I guess history is history, heehee. Where on Highway 1 is it?"

Carlyle :"Lemme get you the details, little miss."


Grand Valley, Highway 1
Big Sur, California
(still) Late Morning



full



It might be a man made track, but the natural elements it surrounds dominate the many human senses. From the winds blowing the earth, to the waves crashing towards the American shoreline.

No events are happening now by known individuals..



full



..except of another familiar face giving roots to her name as Le Glace Pacer and her choice of tune with a Def Leppard hit.

A few groups are present on the pit lane ready to make their run on the publicly open track day.

Now with some wheat to chew, Carlyle takes a moment to appreciate the overload of nature's beauty in one location from one of the many vistas made for sightseers.



Carlyle :"And here we are! What a beauty this is. Seems to me the FIA's got some interesting ideas for a racing road circuit."


Even with the cooling wind balancing out the hot sun, Rin made a first opinion..


Rin :"Gee, I don't know. Those barriers seem a bit too frail for me to go racing around.."


With the thin walls being the focus of the discussion, Carlyle has other plans..


Carlyle :"Well, your worry ain't stopping some proper racing around. Take a lookie here, Jess."

Rin :"What's this?"


He points towards the direction of an unnatural piece of blue.


full



Carlyle :"Some kind of hatchback's going crazy, pushing it to the limit. That's a new age MINI if I ain't wrong, and girl, I ain't wrong."


Waiting to get it come close, Rin noticed something unusual about it from behind.


Rin :"Curious. Anyone would get booked if they show those British plates around."

Carlyle :"Well, I'd say the same thing for your Copen's yellow Japanese registration."

Rin :"My station as an Interpol agent can cover that, Lyle-san."


Carlyle then added two things: Rin being on a racetrack, and also the presence of her Copen being special.


Carlyle :"Hmm, yeah. True. But I was thinking you can bring that Copen out to play against it, what you say?"

Rin :"I don't think that's in the realms of fair play. I'm starting to think you brought that thing here so I would feel guilt on not using the Lexus."


Smiling this punchable smile, Carlyle looked on, arms crossed at the information coming in.


Carlyle :"Girl, that is a fine thought, but this van Orrin didn't think of that.. I also didn't think you had a competitive side in you."


To Rin, that sounded like the time to reveal something eagerly..


Rin :"Oh, heehee, not many people know I race in the FIA on the side.. I got it from my father. Brought down from how he used to street race the deepest darkest roads in Tokyo. Was a self serving delinquent before he met my mother. Said something about winning the biggest retirement race in the world to get out of the cruel world he once made a living in."


Her friend may have sunglasses on, but she can see a face brimming with curious interest behind them.


Carlyle :"Whoowee! I'd like to hear that story someday, Jess."

Rin :"Sounds good. Bring tissues, I can't help but get tears out when I think of my father."

Carlyle :"Eh? Sounds like you's are close. What's his name?"

Rin :"Shinzo."


His natural talent for sweet talk got him the words to help bring up the mood.


Carlyle :"Well, baby doll Rin. I think that Shinzo's a good pappy when his little girl remembers him fondly like so."


And as he looked, a small smile appeared.


Rin :"You've a good heart, Lyle-san. I appreciate that."

Carlyle :"That's what the girls thinks I got, and I prove them right, always."


Smiling that punchable smile again, he stands the confident stand to add on that.


Rin :"Good heart and a funny bone.."


Now down the viewing point, they head closer to the track. A car, bright and stand out, became the next stopping point.


full



Carlyle :"Yeah, there it is! The 200 mile per hour Superbird! My one ticket into the List."


A heavily modified classic muscle car dries up under the sun. While Carlyle's ownership and familiarity with it shows, Rin had other thoughts..


Rin :"Ohh. Fascinating.."

Carlyle :"Your sarcastic tone just ain't doing the moment proud, baby."

Rin :"Oh, no offense, I'm just cautious with older technology. How can this terror on wheels be your way in that most wanted street racing group?"


He was waiting for that question just as he rearranges his sunglasses in a cool demeanor..


Carlyle :"I did say it plain as day, right? Self modified chassis reinforcement and a distinctly uptuned HEMI to go 200 miles per hour on the freeway. Then the boss.. your hubby, told me I'm game."


That last comment put Rin in a mode of focused thinking: something she usually had trouble with..


Rin :"It's, uhh.. this is the first time in years where.. he actually took another under his wing.."

Carlyle :"You don't look so assured, Jess."


Concerned, Carlyle tries to understand how the volatile personality of his mate can work, when all it usually do is add to the chaos.


Rin :"As his loving wife, I worry when he plays a game THIS dangerous. Being part of a team to take them down, I know all the ins and outs of The List. You and all the new blood. Except that one tamed racing driver, but.."


Deep in thought is not his favorite moment to be in, so Carlyle hatched a quick plan to action..


Carlyle :"Well, in any case, I feels a drive's in order. How about it?"

Rin :"I'm thinking no.."


Giving up being out of the question, he double downed..


Carlyle :"I'm going to say something about your pappy and you not being in practice. In my head it's sounds a million times better than this."


Even though the message didn't come out as intended, it did get Rin out of her trance of overthinking.


Rin :"...Lyle-san, you can't.. ARGHH, you're so right, how dare you!!"


As she planned to argue the moment, Carlyle is already nowhere to be found.

But thanks to earlier, her plans are set for the next hour or so.


Rin :"Okay.. I wonder how 60 horsepower in a 800 kilogram body feels on high alert?"


full



What can you expect with a car that carries so little power? To be honest, it's a question that leans towards how do you find joy in driving a car. I get so many answers for this. The Copen's answer comes from a variety of these, and they sound a lot like: how much more power can you fit in a car with an overall presentation of a cute ladybug?

Well, let's reword that firstly and mention how do you use that power? What the Copen is has a lot of how it's going to bring to its performance level. Low power means you don't need an ounce of traction control at all when on the move.. don't take it from me how that works from a standing start. It's got low level parts, low level tires, low level engine. So it all means this is the definite entry point for the casual racer's entry point that is FWD cars. Let's see how I can explain: it's not quick, and you're not going to get issues you can find when you drive something faster, no matter the drivetrain.

Just do be wary your car is still FWD, so that means you're going to still get understeer. I see expert's words on the car has appeared before this post, and mention just accelerating. And that's right: because it has not much power, the car doesn't even lose traction on the comfort compound, meaning you shouldn't even be using traction control, because this level's much too little to get something to control.


full



And another thing.. once again my reference is the little league of Copen racers posts back. The close racing. Because there is no such thing as a difficulty gap, it means if we take out racecraft, manners and race sense.. the things you gain from experience, the car's easy to drive, and while there's a lot to do to master it, that step's not daunting at all. And the car's small, meaning.. some people can get daring with more space on the track.

Let's go to handling. I've been using the new Grand Valley as a test ground, and sometimes I purposely leave a gear up since I can't say why. Something in the differential that wants you to stay the gear you're on? It turns better when I don't down shift?

I also notice it has solid acceleration at lower revs. A quick look at the powerband gives the idea that you want to shift early with the car; there's a steep fall of power at that juicy late RPM zone (odd how the JB-DET can rev real high but isn't recommended to go do it), and there's a lot of torque (for the car class of course) at the beginning of where the power starts climbing. I notice this where it won't get going at third on a straight. I'm sure the shifter blinks too late for this car. Okay, I guess this is a good newbie's car to learn short shifting, because I think you need it.

Let's see. Brakes work fine and need no mention. Gears are too long, but this isn't some high level sports car so it's excepted. Low power and weight means fuel economy is good. And I can't find any issues with stability, be it with an incline or just general turning at full angle. On the whole, the Copen's about playing with its limited power, and maybe getting you less experienced bunch to manual for a change?

Oh goodness, this is starting to look like a Mini Mexico analysis! Let's wait to see how Candy decides to add on the intensity in this entry.. which is another way to say go scroll down!


full


full


Later that day, a few groups of locals found themselves up and about the newly declared FIA approved roads, though nothing formal is planned for today.

With nothing permanent around, the bare fixtures in Grand Valley's pit lane are enough to beat the California heat.



full



While Carlyle still remains hot out in the track for who knows how much longer, his partner in crime decides a quick sit was what she needs after pushing her late father's Copen to the best it can.


Rin :"This has to be the first time I take you out for a ride, eh, little Copen?"


full



Not expecting a response, she's starting to understand the potential of a Kei car on a situation it's not made for. Essentially what her father's known for.

But she then realized..



Rin :"I'm not sure how talking to myself accomplishes anything. There are sure to be people that do this too so it's fine~.."


While not at work, she keeps her phone handy and always keeping an eye on any notification.

But, at a distance, someone else watches, noting with intrigue..



Candy :"She's.. Nishimura-sensei's daughter?"


Just as Rin finishes the small check, someone stands in front: an individual with the looks out of Hong Kong's beauty magazines.

Sweaty and a bit flustered, Candy has plans for this out of place Japanese agent.



Candy :"Ahh.. finally. You. Not just another one. I've been getting tired of being the only one.."

Rin :"Huh?"


Someone like Candy's famous to the right people. And to Rin, she didn't think twice..


Rin :"Top-Asia-regional-FIA-driver-points-leader-CANDY LAM?!"

Candy :"(what speed..) Humm.. the nicknames are getting out of hand now."


Now off her chair, Rin wasn't exactly short, but against Candy, she was a step up, prompting a reaction with hands held together by her head..


Rin :"In person, you're.. a lot cuter than I thought!!"


Hearing that, she couldn't help but snap.

Candy felt a rage building within, eyes twitching, narrowing, and fists clenched. She thought..



Candy :"THIS is who you are? Okay."


Revealing her berserk button, she decides pulling any of her punches is a courtesy. And the cracking of hands means she's not courteous.


Candy :"We play.."


Now in attack mode, Candy stands defensive, analyzing the conversation..


Rin :"Play? You were in the MINI? That's not your kind of car."

Candy :"Does it mean when I drive for Toyota means I can't get in another car. That hurt."


But as she readies to strike her heart through words, Rin saw the murderous intent..


Rin :"[GASP] I feel.. now isn't the time to be meeting others. Just leave me to meditate in peace!"

Candy :"Hold up!"


Like an action movie sequence, Candy went to immediately turn her target like she's ready to place the killing blow through a secret ancient Chinese kung fu technique.

But her killing techniques comes in droves of secrets..



Candy :"Don't think you're going to escape me, Nishimura Rin. I can see we're not equipped to race against. But I'm glad. To be here. To see you: The Red Bull X wild card. The Mythic driver code named.. the Infernal Phoenix. I expected more, not some softie hooking up with spirits."


No moves were made, but Candy's intensity keeps going.


Rin :"(Mythic?? How the-) You.. know that name?! Let go!"


Not wanting a struggle, Candy did let go, but the damage gradually comes in.


Rin :"Wu-what do you want then?"

Candy :"You were supposed to be the one.. standing in my way. But you are a joke."


Remaining in control through all of this, Candy knows Rin's spirit starts to weaken through her face starting to show signs of fear and sorrow. Then the body follows.


Rin :"Nn.. what?"


Still offended, Candy maintained her tactics.


Candy :"Everyone sees street bred Candy Lam dominate the championships: something that should be easy for you track bred ilk. But so far you prove to me otherwise. Can you see the facts ahead of you?"

Rin :"I.. have nothing to say to you."

Candy :"That's.. for calling me cute.. Go and run. Keep hiding. They call me the best woman racer in the world for a reason. I expected a lot more from our kind."


While not obvious, Candy knew when someone's had enough.

It's exactly what her withdrawing opposition is in.



Rin :"You! Dare talk to me with such a tone!! There's no way I want to find myself helping you, or letting you do what you desire! Good. Bye."


She knew it wasn't right, to let her run away in tears.

But she was once a victim of this kind of torture. Mercy wasn't in their vocabulary as it was for her here.

A certain fact is that she's not here to make enemies. And that thought came as she calms.



Candy :"Abnormally soft.. But I cannot lose her. This is my only chance to settle this!"


uhh.png



On the other side of the pit lane, a small commotion began in a small room housing Carlyle's Superbird..


full



He wasn't far, as he can't mistake his sense towards a woman crying her eyes out on the floor.


Rin :"Am I-i.. just a j-joke.."

Carlyle :"Jess? Saw you'se running in here and.. something ain't right. Did you think about your pappy too hard?"

Rin :"No.."


Chewing some wheat, Carlyle figures his superior's wife getting emotionally shocked isn't how he wants to remember the day for.

He's good at it, so he decides to soften the discord..



Carlyle :"C'mon, babe. Let's get you back on your feet. We can talk this through. Treat me like a brother, doll."


Rin might be an only child, but brother was the right word to get her calm a little.


Rin :"B-brother.."


With a chair pushed closer, Carlyle took her up and placed her sitting on it.


Carlyle :"Slowly. No pressure. Now let's get you emotionally stable. What's going on?"

Rin :"Hher.."


From the front, the unwanted Candy makes an entrance.

He knew something was off with her, but then his other personality came on.



Carlyle :"Well, HOWDY?! What are the chances we get this weather of 2 Asian hotties under one roof?"

Candy :"Oi, step aside, big ugly. Business isn't finished."


Her poor manners turned the personality back without warning.


Carlyle :"Or what? Little cutie like you got no chance if yous going to hurt another of little Jess's inner psyches like you does! Ya ever heard of the local Californian Wrestling locals? There they call me Leo, and it's because I am a big mean cat. Purr-RAWR!"


Not wanting to hear this longer, Candy took off the man's sunglasses..


Carlyle :"Eh?"


Then went straight for a boot, angled downwards to his lower regions.


Carlyle :"MEAarrghh!!"

Candy :"Sit tight, p[BLEEP]y"


Pain overwhelming, he falls to the floor, knees first and kneeling inward.

The situation prompted a change in Rin's emotional distress,



Rin :"LYLE?!"

Candy :"I sure hope you don't plan on joining him in the currently down and out jobber division."


Still weeping, she got off her seat, noticing she had no place to go.


Rin :"B-back off! She-devil! I don't want to hurt you, but if it has to come that way, then.. it will happen!"


Adopting a defensive stance, Candy sees Rin knows something that may or may not be karate.


Candy :"If that's a challenge.."


Candy however walks forwards, all signs showing she's not giving a care.


Rin :"Huh? There is a mixture of boldness.. and madness.."


'She won't strike' is in her thoughts. Part 2 of Candy's master plan involves a split second noise in her high heels..

Then a sudden, swift mad dash forwards..

Ending on a collision course, with said collision in the form of a comforting embrace that took Rin off-guard, and unable to strike..



Rin :"Huhh??"


As this master plan moves on, Candy gets to step 3: a revelation.


Candy :"Hesitant. I know you're capable of what I hear, but today.. you're soft."

Rin :"Being soft doesn't make me weak!"

Candy :"But it gives you the right ideas. You don't leap into action like big old Leo there. How are you there, big ugly?"

Rin :"Lyle-san?"


Still in the awkward poses, Carlyle slowly gets on his feet.


Carlyle :"Arghh.. it's fine, for a low blow.. Don't yous worry. It's just a flesh wound. You girls hugging it out?"


It looked weird, giving Carlyle the idea to break this up..


Carlyle :"Should I.."

Rin :"You should, but.."


Struggling to decide to let go or not, a decision is made, and she decides to accept this gesture.


Rin :"Candy-san.. you did what you did, but if you're not here to bully me, then why do you desire me so much?"

Candy :"I want to bring the Phoenix back ablaze. And to do so, I must.. reveal something."


Candy's always serious and keeping a face, but deep down, that softens as she opens a chapter of her past..


Candy :"I'm so glad.. I got to meet you, Nishimura. Your father was someone I held dear. Nobody was out there to take me after the cold embrace of prison.. but he. All those years ago.."


Rin however isn't in to the idea.


Rin :"Y-y-you can't prove that!"

Candy :"Yes I can. The Copen that you drove definitely is a silhouette of his legacy. Enveloped in a speedy splash of brown. But also fast and weighs like nothing. The man had a thing for the small and fast."


The intent of those words got through to her.


Rin :"That's.. right!"


The moment's intensity now way less, Candy lets go, and turns her back, embarrassed to show her tearing face.


Candy :"He died because a certain Yakuza p[BLEEP] decided he was no more use to the world. And seeing the debts I never got to repay, I needed to see the true successor of his street cred. You're not like him: a street racer, true?"

Rin :"No.. but you're asking the right person if the streets are your friend."


She turned back, then bowing.


Candy :"No hard feelings.. Rin-san. I'm.. s-sorry but I'm not good with people. N-never have been. You saw how I exploited your.. fragile psyche."


Still wary, Carlyle gave the okay for Rin to come close, and she had a feel for Candy's upper body.


Rin :"I can feel.. this honesty. Your heart is pounding."


The side of Candy that's not good with people however came back, with a quick wave to split the women.


Candy :"Whoa. Back off, sister!"


And with that, the intensity came back up again.


Rin :"Grr.. You're not my sister.. even if Shinzo otou-san gave you his blessing.. goodness, you're going to say those words, I know it.."


It's not in the master plan, but Candy can't stop herself..


Candy :"Even if I may just be your Sensei.."

Rin :"Even if I may just be your Sensei.."


A few people passing through are seeing the events happen, but Carlyle controls the heat and assures nothing's up.


Candy :"You are welcome to call me.. father."

Rin :"You a-are welcome to call m-ME.. FATHER."


With those words, Rin's unwanted chaotic nature comes in full force.


Rin :"The exact way!! NO, no! This can't be!"


Seeing her break down, beating the floor senseless, Candy's small stature towers her target.


Candy :"We don't have to be friends, Rin-san. I'll let you go on with how you want to live. But there's only one thing I want: a last moment with your father, through something he got you. It's a brown convertible, rhymes with token and broken. I hope you can respect this request."


It doesn't make any sense, she thought, but emotionally it's not a bad request.


Rin :"A last drive with him?"


With the crowd cleared, Carlyle chimes in..


Carlyle :"If it's gonna make your soul at peace from her.. I'd do as she says."


Back up, she handed the keys to arms already stretched out to reach.


Rin :"..alright."


She received the keys, and also grabbed Rin on the shoulder for comfort.


Candy :"Thank you.."


As she leaves, a request came..


Rin :"But.. can I come along? We'll feel this spirit together."

Candy :"I don't see why not."


The women walk by Carlyle, which Candy turned towards.


Candy :"Oh, and big guy.. I know it's rude of me to attack a, what was it.. lion?"

Carlyle :"Uhh, yeah?"

Candy :"Okay, a lion in the balls especially when they're ready to pounce. But how about we duel after this. That special MINI versus your special Road Runner. A more interesting way of saying sorry, maybe?"


Once again, someone decides to chime in..


Rin :"[imitating from earlier] If it's gonna make your soul at peace from her.."


She has a bevy of weird habits, but Carlyle particularly had a reaction to the imitation.


Carlyle :"Argh, that timing to imitate someone.. Stop it, Jess!"

Rin :"Heehee!"

Carlyle :"Least your mood's way better now. Umm.."


And before he forget, he makes his answer loud and proud.


Carlyle :"YOU'RE ON, CUTIE PIE."


It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)
Eurythmics
Be Yourself Tonight


Candy :"You have questions."

Rin :"Yes, uhh.. why did you do that?"

Candy :"The bit where I taunted you down to oblivion?"

Rin :"Umm..."

Candy :"It's what I do.. when my opposition loses their composure, it leads to.. interesting outcomes."

Rin :"I didn't enjoy that outcome, Candy-san."

Candy :"It's exactly how I thought you'd feel."


full



Candy :"And you called me.. cute."

Rin :"What? You are kind of cute."

Candy :"Don't. Say. That."

Rin :"Ohh, why's that? How old are you??"

Candy :"Uhh.. thirty."

Rin :"That explains it. You have a teenager's size and your jewelries.. and your face.. heheh."

Candy :"Are you keeping this conversation, because I don't want to hear anything or from anyone that I am, as short and young and whatever accursed verb you have out there, cute. And that's final."

Rin :"I'll keep that in mind."

Candy :"Hmm.."


And now: what do we do with a Copen.

If you're not going to go scroll up this entry and have a look at the cutest little league racing series, you have options. That's what these low powered machines are for, yeah? You bring them up to notch the egos of those a few levels ahead. Cars like the Copen with no weight at stock means you can get an edge in technical places. I'm going to say Tsukuba, but I also have a thought for the shorter Alsace Test Track variant.

So, a quick peek at the Engine Swap thread gave me the idea that nothing's going to fit in a Copen. Tough luck. We'll have to roll with the JB-DET then. Then again, since these boils down to luck and I am a purist through and through, I prefer we not mention this on any other upgrade.

Speaking of which, here's an upgrade to consider if you want to change the handling of the Copen: its turbo. I question turbos this small in real life, but let's head back: remember how the use of the car's peppy lower RPM ranges helps it push and handle turns with a gear above? Well, adding an aftermarket turbo changes that slightly. Low range: not much, mid range and high range is where things change. The peak torque value will meet with the power at long last! Be sure to keep the low RPM turbo if you want to keep the base feel of the Copen.

And of course with turbos, you can install anti-lag. With under 150 horsepower, can it brap?


full



Umm.. no.. Insert world's smallest violin here.

If you want, you can add the front aero no problem since it doesn't force a minimum value.. the rear does, so add that with consideration of the car's balance. But I find a faster Copen can benefit with the rear aero.

Speaking of which, lowering the power via restrictor is going to mess with the car's power in the RPM ranges, so unless you know what's up, don't bring that down. Same case with weight.

I'm not super intelligent in tuning to know enough on what to do, but of course you will want adjustable parts as much places as you can. Brakes can be biased to the front a bit since its got a front heavy body. And when you do add power, you will get the car's less desirable FWD traits it had at stock to come on. But unless you kept the stock tires, I don't think that's a big problem. This car is already easy on easy mode. Do what you like. I put just about anything you can get off the shelf for this one.


Rin :"Ohh, you drive just like him."

Candy :"I guess it rubs off.."

Rin :"You have a talent for these. There must be an explanation.."

Candy :"It's not a Kei car, but there was a time I raced with your father's Bulldog."

Rin :"The City Turbo II?"

Candy :"Oh you know this one?"

Rin :"Of course, that was his favorite. Small enough to weave through traffic and back alleys when he needed to."

Candy :"He got you this car because of.. the many similarities. Even the brown paint."

Rin :"I had a hint of that intent when it comes to the brown paint. I don't know why, but.. he never wanted me to have the Bulldog."

Candy :"It's maybe him saying.. you have to carve your own blade out of this car. Your old man has to stop giving down his used ones eventually."


full



Rin :"[GASP], that's very logical. Good thinking, little sister."

Candy :"Uhh, we need to talk about that.."

Rin :"Well, Candy-san, is there any other name you want to go with?"

Candy :"No."

Rin :"But if not sister or a friend, or Candy-san, what else.. I'm sticking with sister, yes?"

Candy :"No."

Rin :"We should officiate it. I have an idea!!"

Candy :"Stop it."


It's been an hour and a half since Rin's revelation of a hard truth: that her father had yet another racer under his wing aside herself and her half-brother.

But as she sits in the shaded pit lane tent, she watches the track cleared up for the duel to go at full speed ahead.



full



The small crowd gathers in excitement, with their voices not hiding their opinions.

"This is a hot race, man is the roof on fire or what?"
"Can we get stewards to clear this place, because those two can just plow everything aside!"
"My money's on the Superbird."
"Goodwood called, they want their classic racing action back.."
"You kidding? That MINI's a fierce one, yo."
"Touring car fans, where you at, this WHY we need that revival!"


Back on her phone, she checks an application that covers local all points bulletin information.

Nothing took her eyes, until she saw the same blue MINI on the listing.

Knowing Candy can't be all evil, and a gut feeling her personal story needs detail, she ignores it.

And as soon as she puts her phone aside, few laps has passed.

The gap hasn't widened significantly, but something else comes this way to change the pace..



full



Rin :"Ohh!"


The passing of a Lima V8 gave everyone around a reason to cheer, despite the situation.


full



Rin :"JAAKE!"


To say she's extremely joyed is to put it very mildly.


Spectator :"What's up with that white BOSS?"

Rin :"It's his on track way to say hello: through the conquest of egos.."


And on the winding roads, the Boss took its time catching up and making its intentions clear.


full



Carlyle :"Gotta be one person in existence today that can bring the BOSS like that around this 200 miles per hour hotshot.."


Carlyle came out calm, knowing who this is, but Candy..


full



Candy :"This. Is.. Unacceptable!!"


..didn't.


Ruining the occasion, the two duelists follow the white Mustang to the pits, remaining out as it enters a garage, going in as instructed by someone else..


full



Candy, flustered by the act, demands answers, angry as she exits the MINI.


Candy :"Someone has the GALL to get in my way of a glorious victory.."


As Rin comes close, Carlyle catches up. They both watch on an angry little Lone Wolf bring her rage out, dissipating the idea of a crowd.


Carlyle :"Holy s[BLEEP] she ain't got no clue."

Rin :"(whispers) Keep it down, consider this to be vengeance for earlier."

Carlyle :"That so? Cool.. at least before he kills her."


They come forwards closer to the BOSS's garage.

Candy saw her new entourage and uses their presence to let something go..



Candy :"Well? What am I expecting? I know the fastest racers on Earth by name. It's a wonder I know nothing about this upstart and this Mustang Boss."

Carlyle :"Well, little Miss Candy.. Thinking yous know? There exists a breed of racers carrying dangerous potential, remaining in Obscuresville. We call em.. c'mon, Jess, you got it."

Rin :"Am I supposed to say.. a dark horse?"


A tall figure in black makes his way out the garage, slowly.

Watching it happen, Candy felt the air change, as if something terrible comes this way.

Unknown to her, this is the Jacob Ross whose name dropped to no immediate avail in Kyoto.

He takes his gaze towards Carlyle..



Jake Ross :"..oh good. Carlyle and my beloved were alone. There are about 25 ways I can imagine how that went."

Carlyle :"Geez, big boss guy, I hate it when you say that. We's a honest bunch a friends."


Then towards Rin..


Jake Ross :"Hi there, Jess. How's the track?"

Rin :"Aside the safety risks, I enjoy it very much. It's got a feel of nostalgia I can't quite put."


Crossing his arms, he readjusts his hat as the sun flares on.


Jake Ross :"I see. Guess I'll have to take the BOSS for another more serious run later."

Candy :"THAT wasn't a serious run?!!"


The voice put her up front, Jacob not noticing her presence thanks to her height, until she made herself visible.


Jake Ross :"Is that real? I can't doubt the idea but.. why the hell is there a Candy Lam here?"

Candy :"I don't have to say anything here, do I?"

Rin :"Not really. She's with us, surprisingly."

Jake Ross :"Why's that?"

Rin :"It's a long story. She knew Shinzo for starters."

Jake Ross :"So this is the one?"


Candy had a master plan to attack, but she can't help feel this man is in another league of psychological warfare..


Jake Ross :"I'm not sure why, but it's high time I introduce myself: Jacob Ross.."


The worthless name finally rang a bell.


Candy :"Well.. That didn't take long."

Jake Ross :"Sorry, but I don't got any idea what that means."

Candy :"A week ago, I was at Kyoto. I met what they say are your biggest fans.. thing is, they don't look like you, wear shirts of you, drive cars like you, and.. I'm having trouble understanding how they're fans."

Jake Ross :"She's found and got along with the dynamic duo? Shy artist with an 86, and a living embodiment of overvoltage with a Mazda?"


The description adds up, but Candy still questions how this one person made an impression.


Candy :"Exact match. But this all is just a ridiculous coincidence. I was here to say my goodbyes to my past."


That sounded convincing, but Jacob..


Jake Ross :"I.. refuse to think so. You're here for something more. More than my beloved."


Candy's truths were true, but so far they apparently weren't the greatest of them.


Candy :"Inquisitive. The MINI is one thing. A race in Blue Moon this weekend is something else."

Carlyle :"Humm.. I gots me a clue what that is. We bought tickets.."

Rin :"The Race of Champions. It's so obvious, how did I not see it?!"


That sounded even more convincing..

..but Jacob..



Jake Ross :"NO."

Candy :"Urk!"


And this time, his gruff voice is raised..


Jake Ross :"I don't know how it got out, but somehow you know about Mythic."


The tone changes drastically, as a man such as he knows how to bring a chill to any spine.


Candy :"Oh no.."


He takes out a large hefty, ominous coin and rotates it through his fingers as he circles her, explaining..


Jake Ross :"Jess here: Rin in a formal context, is my beloved and we've vowed to stop keeping things from each other. Including how you called her the Infernal Phoenix. That's... very sensitive knowledge, only shared on a very private, bespoke messaging application."


Candy hasn't a clue Rin and Carlyle are a few steps further behind, watching her getting karmic retribution.


Rin :"Teehee. Pass the popcorn.. SIKE! You don't have any!"


Predicting an escape, Jacob has had enough, taking down her right knee with a dead accurate toss with the weighted coin.


Candy :"AAAHH!! NO! No no NOOO!!"


Quickly looking to see he's out of sight, he comes close, slowly and heavily.


Jake Ross :"The truth is.. I want to have lunch with you, but at this rate, I want to have YOU for lunch."


She should struggle and fight back, and it's what she thinks. Only that..

A pale red mist came out from his long suit jacket, and it gave an uncontrollably tranquil sensation that killed any desire to do anything.

Holding her up with a deadlift chokehold, he grabs something from his inside jacket sleeve..



Candy :"Th-this country! H-how could he conceal a machete like that?!"


Up close, Carlyle adds a remark to the situation..


Carlyle :"Eating human's not the creepiest thing I's heard what happens to people who don't co-operate, Candy baby."

Jake Ross :"Annoying, but.. them's the facts, my little Asian flower. You dare doubt that?"


Even as she loses her senses through asphyxia, a brutal death by machete looks very real.

That's the idea that caused normally calm Candy to break.



Candy :"Eyaah!! Please!! C-calm your r-reins, oh dark one.. I will talk.."


He's heard what everyone wants to hear..

But, now a third time..



Jake Ross :"This had better be GOOD."


He drops her down, and the mist slowly dissipates.

She went for a feel around her throat, then regained her lost composure quick..



Candy :"T-The Mythic Initiative was Shinzo's grand master plan. Was in cahoots with the guy on top of this: the legendary Nash Kirkham. Trusted me.. then told me.. about his daughter one day.."


And seeing this embodiment of a devil towering above, the facts and her memory added up.


Candy :"AND YOU were in that initiative too! No wonder.. I heard your name before.."


That prompted the machete to come dangerously close to a slashed nose.


Candy :"EEP!"

Carlyle :"Don't like how close that blade is to someone this pretty, boss man."

Jake Ross :"I agree, but you decide get in my way, and it's the hoosegow for you, Lyle. Jess?"

Rin :"Father never was good with keeping secrets to his grave, so I believe it."


Signs of an abused, nervous hostage got to Candy good, and as the machete's sharp blade distanced, she found comfort, still afraid it might be the last..

Jacob however thought death isn't her fate today, feeling away his machete with a few rubs off his gloves.



Jake Ross :"Hmm.. I knew Shinzo. He's a bit of a goof. And I'm quite sure Nash can't come up with these silly names all by his lonesome, when he's got a multi million dollar conglomerate to run.."


There's a new story waiting, and Jacob decides Candy's the one that's going to tell it. Not him.

Casually putting away the aggression and the machete, he thought..



Jake Ross :"Alright, you're not guilty, but I want to hear what you know. You can share with her especially: his only offspring."

Candy :"Y-y-yessir.. we're going to go through this, over lunch? Not with me on the table, p-preferably.."


For the first time in this whole scene, Jacob let out a smile, turning towards to his wife..


Jake Ross :"She can be your little sister now, Jess."


With a playful glee for her revenge satisfied, she acts a soldier and makes a funny salute.


Rin :"On these conditions I hereby ACCEPT!!"


And this time, it's Rin who gets to pick Candy from the floor and start a hug, with a squeezing power quickly leading to Candy's disapproval..


Rin :"Not sisters, not friends, but we're BONDED!"

Candy :"[muffled]..gurr.. After this damn race, it's the first flight BACK TO TOKYO!!"


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Seems I got out of control with the content, but let's get back to the Copen..

If I were to define it the same way I keep defining my cars in Mini Mexico by the end of a review, I would say the Copen's slogan goes in the line of something compact and unassuming would assume a ferocious little Sleeper.

It might be tiny, but who knew the turbo is the car that makes or breaks it, giving it an identity to either preserve or change. Not to mention for something not specifically made for racing, it handles very exceptionally.. I can see why it has its fans.

I remember watching in glee the presence of a Copen GR Sport, and my reaction is assured even more thanks to this fury in a cute compact package. You don't need a lot of size or displacement to make bank in COTW town, see Rambo Lambo.


full

It's not the bottom of the barrel, but I definitely would take these if Kei cars was the starter to choose from, not a small hatchback.


I'll also note if a character has a second entry, I'll refer to what episode their biography is at.

Who's here? Well, I used to write. The last fellow that came today is Jacob Ross: typical name but is actually THE main character of this entire Mythic Verse. This new reboot of his is bound to shock older readers, but I'm sure that's nobody in this thread.

One thing you might've noticed is that said main man being married. With this Japanese woman. Ehh, I was trying to make him more.. divergent than your usual guy. Meet Rin: her main key word is chaotic. She's also meant to be a little dumb, but I always find that side of her to be.. difficult to implement.

Carlyle is a fun new addition. Meant to be this charming lover, he's bound to make some shocking hints on what he's to be eventually in whatever chapter he'll come in. Maybe you'll see this Leo wrestler side in him emerge someday.

The newest member of infamous street racers The List so happens to be one country bumpkin that puts his charm above all else to any sweet talking, pretty lady he finds, whether they like it or not.

Theme Song: The Alan Parsons Project - Psychobabble
Racing Duel Music: Cinderella - The More Things Change
Gender: Male
Nationality: American
Age: 28
Current occupation: Stunt actor
Distinct features: Blonde hair, often slicked upwards to a folded twirl, revealing his charmed, rugged diamond face. Wide mouth that drastically puts a nasty idea to his grin. Average height, with slightly wide profile. Skin is blemished in many places. Always chewing wheat.
Choice of clothing: Never consistent, but it's always action oriented. He can be wearing a tank top, to army fatigues. His lower body usually has khakis and combat boots. Has an affinity for orange. Wears special sunglasses due to an incident that damaged his eyesight.
Cars: Plymouth Superbird, DeTomaso Mangusta, Maserati Merak SS

This ravishing, but honest down to earth lover was born from a long line of the first Dutch immigrants to America of the 19th Century. Being a rural countryman of Illinois descent, Carlyle hasn't been of note in the racing world. But everyone around him know this man can get into the career without issue, as he's got the moves thanks to his long experience as a prime stunt actor of a small Los Angeles movie studio: Aurea Signum Studios. And one mantra that follows would be how that studio never fakes their stunts. Carlyle specializes in the vehicular aspect of this, notably, aside from women, he gets his arousing fix through high speed chases.

How Carlyle manages this is due to his family's ties with the classic car communities all over America. He's never without his Superbird ever since he turned 16, and it's always seen nearing 200 MPH. No doubt this would lead to how he's a frequenter to the police stations all over the nation, taking chances to just woo at just about any woman he sees within. Most commonly, that would be in central Los Angeles, where his own mother works at, and he would meet a significant link: a Japanese officer living in America, who has ties with the most infamous street racer in the nation.

A night stint of The List was interfered when Carlyle made their legendary speedster sweat with nitrous behind them. Not only did it get him a spot on The List, codenamed "Hot Shot" as per their rules, but he would prove invalauble as team support, along with being a creative thinker stemming from his army cadet youth, especially if he'd be deluded to say women were on the line.

In fact: a figure such as he somehow carries major weight in the underworld, particularly being the man to go to procure older cars, be it a used car or a Hagerty appraised classic. There are strong suggestions his role in the classic car communities are just a front for smuggling, but rumors remain as rumors.

Tech savvy geek with a forte in extreme sports. While her chaotic nature always gets her into situations unwanted, her overall innocent and kind upbringing gets her to be responsible of being the only one capable of lighting up the complete darkness in her husband's inner struggles for a final identity.

Theme Song: Muse - Guiding Light
Racing Duel Music: Eurythmics - Would I Lie To You?
Gender: Female
Nationality: Japanese
Age: 29
Current occupation: Interpol special operative
Distinct features: Medium, layered bob burgundy hair. Athletic, slightly wide diamond face. A natural beauty with a small layer of makeup that exists only to hide her eyebags. Thin profile with an average height, and above average proportions.
Choice of clothing: Always wears a bespoke pair of sporty earphones. Never with a distinct fashion style due to her clinging as a master of disguise, even though she's more of a master of imitation. Most of a time she's with a sporty crop top, denim skirt with tight sporty arm socks, leggings and sports shoes.
Cars: Lexus LFA (fingers crossed), Lexus RC F, Daihatsu Copen

Rin started off life in Tochigi. Not even years in, she has been diagnosed with a minor mental defect which hampered her thought processes. While it didn't get in the way of her everyday living, it prompted her parents to remain her a single child. It did get her to do the occasional odd and unusual behaviour. Aspiring to be the family's model child, she didn't let her setbacks bring her down. A top grading student with impressive feats in athleticism, and to remain incredibly pretty; you can say all these good things about her, it's supposedly impossible.

With her mother, love was unconditional, but her father seems held back. Further on in her teen life, she would find out aside his day job that he's a well known, on and off street racer. The relationship would sour further, but that changed in the aftermath of when she decided it's time to see if she can do better. Acing her driver's test was one thing, but immediately sneaking out and winning a Clubman Cup event in Motegi was the next.

Rin would head to the UK instead of local institutes for higher education, but it was a guise as her father wanted to protect her from local troubles stirred by his actions. Away from home, this would be a pivotal era for her development. An old friend became her starting point in racing. She would meet certain individuals, including her husband to be. But also came a criminal group that wanted to exploit her near perfect genetics, with these events causing mental damage, and giving way to her chaotic shifts in mood.

She would make her escape in marriage, prompting her to stay in California. The paranoia didn't stop there. On the first chance she could, she started working as a police officer, even deciding to adopt identities and learn imitation. But her fears did arrive. They staged an accident, and before she got taken away, she escaped, leaving everything behind for a long 7 years. This time was used for her to anonymously hone her racing to a whole new high, protected by Interpol.

And gladly, that time is over. But a lot has changed. Most importantly: her father has died. Initially succeeding him by joining FIA GT racing, she failed to inquire an investigation on how he left a legacy behind in the form of Candy..

They said if there was a God in the worldwide street racing scene, Jacob Ross' moniker as The Outlaw was the very thing He and anyone else in said scene would be unequivocally afraid of.

Theme Song: Metallica - Disposable Heroes (Remastered)
Racing Duel Music: Gary Numan - I Am Dust
Gender: Male
Nationality: American
Age: 33
Current occupation: Rookie racer, in guise of his top street racer moniker
Distinct features: Balding marked, medium swept up brown hair. Roughened up with a few cut scars, but smooth, thin chiseled, and somewhat attractive face. Tall build, with a fit build carrying developed muscles. Those muscles would artificially expand further when he becomes The Outlaw.
Choice of clothing: Black is the name of the game, usually with a custom tailored suit vest under a dark long wool jacket. Never seen without a black bespoke pinch front cowboy hat, with an engraving: 'Oderint dum metuant'. As The Outlaw, he would add on a thick special bulletproof attire, and a breathing apparatus that steams out an unusual drug should he need it.
Cars: Ford GT '06, Ford Mustang Boss 429

As the firstborn of a rich Californian racing legend, racing was definitely in his blood and Jacob had that opportunity for succeeding his father, joyous and determined this is the future for him.

But in his youth, something happened to his young psyche, and to say it changed him would seriously put it mildly.

The details remain sketchy, and it remained a sensitive topic within his family even to today. It drove a wedge between him and his parents far enough that he wouldn't be the same after his teens. These events harbors the influence of him becoming a fearless, serious somber man with said fear as a weapon of his own.

Now that the weight of succession is beared to someone else, Jacob carved his own destiny. Mixing his passions of the past with his more darkened methods, he toughed through the many grueling years to become the self proclaimed, undisputed fastest street racer of the US, through being a founding member of The List, aliased as The Outlaw: a drug enhanced, nigh unbeatable driver with a penchant for deceit, destruction, disrespect and fire, usually all combined. It's said that there are unspeakable tales of terror that happens to those who oppose The Outlaw: the identity he protects dearly, so much that over time, he's developed a vengeance to those that threaten this visage and those close to him.

Eventually, he married someone: a youthful Japanese girl who would be the greatest ray of sunshine he could ever get. But even that was a marriage that wouldn't last, as both became a target from greater powers. After a long 7 years, that threat now extinguished, he resumed the bumpy, happy life, hoping to outrun the past he knew wouldn't catch up. These days, Jacob has recently registered as a rookie FIA racer, with initial plans in his head saying to take it slow. All seems dandy, until certain events including the rise of his wife's old enemies resurface, enveloping him in the darkness where he then believes is the only place he belongs.

And if his fans and followers are familiar with his talents that developed his legacy, know that his history with a clenching darkness has caught up to him. It's unsure whether his known heroic side has fallen, merged, or even co-exists with his persevering dark side.
 
Last edited:
Now I DO want you to give your best in GTS after all though! :P
Update:
Currently at a 9:54.100, started at a 10:00. I need to re-watch your replay to cross check some of my lines. Did you run your lap on controller or wheel?
 
Wheel. :) T-GT
Hey mate, I just wanna ask some clarification on something.

How are you defining the track limits on your laps around the Nürburgring? I'm looking at your flying lap in the video and a couple of your lines are giving me more questions than answers.

Attached screenshots. Just concerned because I counted eight separate times you were fully outside the white lines over your lap.

Screenshot_20230414-124623.png
Screenshot_20230414-125338.png
Screenshot_20230414-125400.png
Screenshot_20230414-125617.png
 
Hey mate, I just wanna ask some clarification on something.

How are you defining the track limits on your laps around the Nürburgring? I'm looking at your flying lap in the video and a couple of your lines are giving me more questions than answers.

Attached screenshots. Just concerned because I counted eight separate times you were fully outside the white lines over your lap.

View attachment 1247754View attachment 1247755View attachment 1247756View attachment 1247757
Lmao I don't give a flying, I do the laps for me and to see what the cars can do. More often than not, leaving the white line actually COST me more time, than it does saving any of it. So in the end, it doesn't make any difference at all, or actually costs me some time. I do not see myself gaining there any time. A cleaner line IN the track limits is ALMOST ALWAYS faster. I speak from experience of doing THOUSANDS of laps on the ring.

If you think I'm not able to string together a fast and CLEAN lap, then look through the ~200 hot laps between GTSport and GT7, that I have in my playlists. SOME of them are both A LOT cleaner AND faster, than the Copen lap here. Maybe you could try to beat those. OR, to not waste too much time, you could try to beat some of my GTSport/GT7 Tsukuba hot laps. Those are, on average, A LOT quicker, than my Ring runs.
 
Last edited:
Lmao I don't give a flying, I do the laps for me and to see what the cars can do. Moree often than not, leaving the whote line actually COST me more time, than it does saving any of it. So in the end, it doesn't make any difference at all, or actually costs me some time. I do not see myself gaining there any time. I cleaner line IN the track limits is ALMOST ALWAYS faster. I speak from experience of doing THOUSANDS of laps on the ring.

If you think I'm not able to string together a fast and CLEAN lap, then look through the ~200 hot laps between GTSport and GT7. SOME of them are both A LOT cleaner AND faster, than the Copen lap here. Maybe you could try to beat those. OR, to not waste too much time, you could try to beat some of my GTSport/GT7 Tsukuba hot laps. Those are, on average, A LOT quicker, than my Ring runs.
Bro, really? All I did was express some concern about one particular lap that seemed a little messier than usual. This wasn't even meant to be a big deal, I just wanted some clarification.
 
“ I hearby proclaim, I do declare…” (insert Colonel Sanders voice)

“…that COTW kangaroo court has commenced! Defend yo-self’ there, @Alex p. fine sir”


I have nothing to hide good Sir.

tenor (28).gif


:lol::lol::dopey:

Bro, really? All I did was express some concern about one particular lap that seemed a little messier than usual. This wasn't even meant to be a big deal, I just wanted some clarification.
Bro what am I supposed to say? Yes I left the track several times. No it was not intentional. Yes, I think it actually COST me time. No, I was not trying to cheat or claim anything. If you're pushing a car to the outmost limit (or simply drive badly), you do leave the track from time to time. That is all. You wanted clarification and I did give you clarification. Where's the problem?
 
Last edited:
Where's the problem?
I don't really have the energy or patience for this so i'll just be blunt.

The entire exchange could have been as simple as this:

Q: How do you define the track limits at the Ring?
A: I count the kerbs as legal track surface.

No harm, no foul. No attitude, nothing of the sort. Simple question, simple answer, and we both could just have carried on with our days with that.

==

Carrying on, I finally got a stock FC I can test for COTW. Review pending after my league race tonignt
 
I don't really have the energy or patience for this so i'll just be blunt.

The entire exchange could have been as simple as this:

Q: How do you define the track limits at the Ring?
A: I count the kerbs as legal track surface.

No harm, no foul. No attitude, nothing of the sort. Simple question, simple answer, and we both could just have carried on with our days with that.

==

Carrying on, I finally got a stock FC I can test for COTW. Review pending after my league race tonignt
I'm really sorry if I offended you (no sarcasme). It was not my intention. I simply do not think of the track limits all that much, as I do not intent to breach them, but don't really care, if I do so from time to time accidentally. If I had to define them, then yeah, as you said it would be the kerbs and the white lines, when all 4 wheels are breaching those.
I think it's really cool that you put so much effort in hot lapping the Copen in GT7 AND GTS. And maybe your lap would actually be quicker, if you breached the track limits as I did IDK mate! Please no hard feelings. I love reading all thoughts regarding the cars in here, and especially, if someone's actually trying to hot lap those, like you did. So I hope, that at least from time to time, you'll continue to do so. Again, I'm sorry for being rude. Never intended to offend or attack in any way. Have a nice weekend mate.
 
Last edited:
I'm really sorry if I offended you (no sarcasme). It was not my intention. I simply do not think of the track limits all that much, as I do not intent to breach them, but don't really care, if I do so from time to time accidentally. If I had to define them, then yeah, as you said it would be the kerbs and the white lines, when all 4 wheels are breaching those.
I think it's really cool that you put so much effort in hot lapping the Copen in GT7 AND GTS. And maybe your lap would actually be quicker, if you breached the track limits as I did IDK mate! Please no hard feelings. I love reading all thoughts regarding the cars in here, and especially, if someone's actually trying to hot lap those, like you did. So I hope, that at least from time to time, you'll continue to do so. Again, I'm sorry for being rude. Never intended to offend or attack in any way. Have a nice weekend mate.
All good, mate. Communication's hard, and sometimes we drivers just screw up trying to express things.

Partly on me too, so sorry to you as well.

For what it's worth, I got down to a 9:52.6. I think it'd be best if I just leave it at that.
 
All good, mate. Communication's hard, and sometimes we drivers just screw up trying to express things.

Partly on me too, so sorry to you as well.

For what it's worth, I got down to a 9:52.6. I think it'd be best if I just leave it at that.

I'm glad you see it that way. The time is really good btw and yes I agree, you should leave it at that. It's just a Copen after all AND it's in GTS, not in GT7. ;)

What would really be intruiging to me is, if you could try to beat some of my GT7 hot laps, especially those, that I'm quite proud of. :P (like both the NSXs, or the F50, Carrera GT, or Chiron and some more. I've put LOTS of effort into those).

Anyway, looking forward to your thoughts about the RX7 and also already looking forward to the next COTW. Cheers mate.
 
Last edited:
Systematic shouting and rhythmic beeping backed by a constant, low hymn of a diesel engine chugging along tells me that work is about to begin for the second time since I moved to Seven Haven, and hopefully it'd be something much more pleasant to sleep in than a weathered and wrung 1990 Mazda.

Clawing the sand from my eyes, I felt my way around the walls of the pitch black, unfamiliar garage, trying to get the door. The year long moving process has taken its toll, and embers still remain from the utter train wreck—

"Good morning, XSquareStickIt!", came Sarah's cheerful voice from the other side of the door before it was even fully open. Her usual, uncanny excitement meant she barely even had to raise her voice to be heard over the trucks and truckers. The morning sun pierces my ill adjusted eyes, causing me to recoil into the familiar, yet fleeting darkness of the garage. Urgh, why'd they have to build the door facing the freaking sunrise...

"Morning, sleepy head! The next car's here! Aren't you excited? I can't wait to see what it is! Why don't you go take a look?"

This is already too much adrenaline in the morning for my retired racing driver bones to handle.

"Mnng...", I mumble in feeble attempt to return her greeting. It's always tiring trying to match Sarah's tempo, and so I decide to do as she said and mosey on over to where the cargo had just been lowered. It was still covered in a tarp way too big for it, with the whole thing looking no wider than a Queen size bed and not much taller than a kiddy pool. I guess it's another week of sleeping in the Mazda, then.

"Shall I?", Sarah eagerly lifts a corner of the tarp to her chest with both her clenched fists, glimmering eyes locked in my direction and beaming her sun rivaling smile squarely at me. I gesture for her to just "get on with it", and she tears away at the tarp with a twirl of her entire body, wrapping herself up with it in the process, which does nothing at all to hide her boundless zeal. "Ta–daa~!"

H's Garage_.jpeg


"Urgh Esther WHAT THE HELL?!", I awake with a furor. Of all the colours and liveries she could've sent for testing, reviewing, and photo shooting, THIS was the best she can do?!

"What's wrong, don't you like it?" Sarah quizzically quips. It's really annoying how bad she is at reading the room and situation, but at the same time, it's impossible to hate someone with a pure heart and smile like that. I try my best to not drag her down, but as you can probably tell, I'm not very good at it, especially when I'm exiled out here to the purgatory that is Seven Haven, and my office keeps sending me stuff like chip computers and exhaust pipes for cars I don't have with me, expecting me to review them. Am I supposed to smash them together and tell you how well they function as a loudspeaker?

And this was the last straw the broke the camel's back. "IT'S ****ING PINK!"

"Hey, it's got a four cylinder engine—rare for a Kei car. And I love the fully automatic roof of this Active Top model!"

"That adds thirty kilos to its kerb mass!"

"It's got a five speed manual!"

"Geared to the moon!"

"It revs to 9,000rpm!"

"It dies past 7,000!"

"Hmph! You have no idea how much attention you'll get parking this at the GT Café—the gathering spot for enthusiasts the world over, mind you!"

Sarah, "Hmph"ing me? That's... so out of character for her that it's downright eerie, despite her cartoonishly playful pout, like a pissed off caterpillar in its cocoon. I wonder if it's something I said?

Trying to find something nice to say about the car, I open the driver side door to find...

"EWW! It's an automatic?!"

"Well, this is a surprise! I can't say I've seen one with an automatic gearbox before in Seven Haven. Wouldn't it be good to review one in automatic, after your initial review of a manual two years ago?"

After a prolonged, exasperated sigh that was more a cry for help than a sigh, I whimper, "if I have to".

********************​

BB Raceway Reverse_.jpeg


Race day came as it always does, and one thing very quickly became clear simply by listening to the cars from the pit lane: my peers were mostly driving manual Copens, including but not limited to Obelisk, who brought his darling spec cup car to the meet, and Vic, who may or may not be a malevolent AI coded with a singular purpose of destroying any racer on the track with humanly impossible pace. Still trying to figure that one out after three years.

I'm no stranger to losing races to such stiff competition, but if we are to test for the pace difference between an automatic and manual, shouldn't the faster guys be saddled with the automatic instead? "An Automatic Win! Retired Racing Driver Tries To Beat The Algorithm: Lap Number 5 Will SHOCK You!!!" is a title that practically writes itself. As stated earlier, Vic is a malevolent AI whose literal and singular purpose in this world is to humiliate us with equal machinery, and you'll have to surgically remove the 5 speed manual gear lever from Obelisk's rectum with a plasma cutter to seperate him from his beloved Copen, and I doubt even our handy fireman, Yard_Sale, has either the hardware or expertise for that.

I might be a retired racing driver, but one thing that refuses to get left behind is a competitive fire: When I see someone else doing what I do, but better, it burns me up inside. It could be anything: driving, writing, being happy... doesn't matter: I want to win. I can't explain it. That's all there is to it.

"ESTHEEEEER!", I bellow out the moment the call connected, the pit walls adding a demonic echo to my agony. "WHY'D YOU SEND ME AN AUTOMATIC?! EVERYONE BUT ME AND BARON HAS A MANUAL!"

"We ran out of manuals", was her calm to a point of dismissive reply.

And that was that, really. What more do you want me to say to that?

"If you insist on a manual...", she unexpectedly continues after my dejected silence. "You'll have to source one for yourself in Seven Haven. You should have about 4 minutes and 27 seconds before race start. Your best bet would be to ask the locals."

"What are the chances that someone here just randomly has a bone stock 2002 Copen with the rare 5 speed stick, charitable enough to loan it to a total stranger that has 0 Credits in his racing suit?!"

"I don't see how I can help you with that over the phone."
Translation: I don't see how that is my problem.

"May I hang up now? I have my job as an editor to attend to."
Translation: Shut up and leave me alone.

"Hello, XSquareStickIt!"

"YIIIIAAAARGH!"

click

"Would you like to borrow my Copen?"

"Can you please stop calling me by my full— wait, what?"

Sarah leans in towards me, ripping my radio earpieces from my ears, and playfully raising her voice, "WOULD YOU LIKE TO BORROW MY COPEN?!"

I clamp down on her forearms in sheer excitement and likewise lean in towards her face, bringing us closer than we've ever been. Shouting even louder back at her, "YEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!"

********************​

Whitby_.jpeg


Debuting in 2002, the diminutive Daihatsu Copen was almost a lone lighthouse in a very dark time for the car enthusiast. With stricter emission laws that year dealing the final blow to beloved classics like the Supra, RX-7, GT-R, GTO, and Silvia, the light, cheap, cheerful, peppy, and very agile Copen proves that not all sporting spirit is dead in Japan. As history has now shown us with various martyrs like the AZ-1 and S660, sporty Kei cars are a packaging paradox that don't tend to sell, but the Copen defies this trend by still being in healthy production today, some 21 years after its debut, out–lasting its sporty brethren regardless of size. Clearly, Toyota has gotten something very, very right with the Copen that other manufacturers aren't privy to. But what is it exactly that makes it so special?

Göreme_.jpeg


To me, it's the fact that the Copen is sensibly front wheel drive, instead of its other sporty Kei companions that try to adopt rear wheel drive like a full sized car. With a wheelbase that short, the cars inevitably become incredibly snappy and tail happy things, and that's before some manufacturers go the extra inch to sling the engine aft the cockpit or freaking turbocharge them, turning them into widowmakers wearing a Kei car smile that would even cause seasoned racing drivers to express concern over driving on the public roads. The sensible front wheel drive layout coupled with the meticulous reliability and build quality Toyota are known for results in a safe, cheap, economical, fun, agile, and solid car that reliably puts a smile on its driver's face, on or off the track.

Tsukuba Circuit_ (2).jpeg


That is, if you spec your Copen with a manual gearbox.

The most immediate thing that strikes one when driving the Copen is, well, how slow it is. With only 62HP, I could slip into and wake from a several boredom induced comas before the Copen hits 100km/h from a downhill standing start with tailwind. But, there's a slight trick to that 62HP; said 62HP only happens at 6,400rpm, and so you think, "wow, that's high up. It's a rev–it–out engine, then?" Except, you'd be wrong, because 6,5 is mere middling range for the minuscule JB-DET engine, which can spin all the way up to a Supra surpassing, S2000 rivaling 9,000rpm before fuel cut! Not that there's much of a chance anyone experiences fuel cut in the Copen, as the high revving engine isn't rev happy at all, terminally hyperventilating past 7,000rpm. With the rather wide ratios of the 5 speed gearbox, 7,500rpm is the highest the engine will realistically see on the racetrack before the clutch pedal is pressed in. The power loss is so severe that first timer drivers who rev their Copens to near redline will get gapped by several car lengths by a driver who shifts the Copen correctly. Well, several Copen car lengths, but several car lengths, nonetheless.

Alsace - Test Course_.jpeg


Even when specced and driven correctly however, there is nothing a Kei car can do to hide its lack of speed on a racetrack. While full sized cars with their full sized power look to smoothly connect out–in–out lines to maximise turning radii and minimise speed loss, the to–do list in the Copen is instead to simply find the shortest distance through a ribbon of asphalt, as its low speed and narrow body often mean that it will have turning radius and grip to spare through many of the turns of the wide, smooth, sanctioned racetracks meant to facilitate battle among GT3 and LMP1 machines. If the 203HP FC RX-7 from last week found most of these sanitised racetracks way too wide and smooth, then putting a Kei car on them feels like putting a paper plane on an actual runway. In fact, it's only at cumbersome, undignified bottlenecks of certain circuits where racing drivers have to damn near stall their racing cars, like the pit entry of Autopolis, that the Copen feels in its element. Suffice it to say that the Copen doesn't give that sensation often, and it's such a shame. I can only hope to imagine what these Kei cars must feel like at racing pace going door to door with each other in more confined spaces, such as the GT Arena nestled inside a stadium, or even the claustrophobic streets of Citta di Aria. Even Tsukuba feels too big and wide for these cars!

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Rallycross Layout__2.jpeg


One track that did feel a good fit for the Copen is the rallycross layout of Catalunya, and driving the Copen there was a real eye opening experience! Simply equipping Dirt tyres on the Copen shoots its PP value up from 292.88 to 338.58, and that's because those Dirt tyres are much, much more grippy even on the paved asphalt than the car's default road tyres! I could crank the wheel so much farther and with so much aggression that the car almost felt like it'd tip over before the tyres let go in the tightest bits of the circuit. Even on loose dirt surfaces, the Dirt tyres offered such an abundance of grip that one could Scandi Flick the car with the smallest amount of brake input. Between the short wheelbase, supple suspension, and gobs of turbocharged low end torque, the Copen felt remarkably like a pint sized rally car!

Tsukuba Circuit_.jpeg


On paved tarmac though, that soft suspension setup can become a slight problem, even with miserable Comfort Medium tyres. Under hard braking loads, the rear end can easily become rather detached from the road, and aggressive trail braking can transform the Copen Active Top into the Copen Hyperactive Rear. While this is very helpful for tight, low speed corners, it can be quite a harrowing experience at higher speed turns taken at triple digit km/h speeds. Of course, the car can't possibly carry a slide elegantly through to the corner exit, being FF, and so what tends to happen in these scenarios is that the car can go from oversteering into the apex of a corner to suddenly understeering into the outside barrier of the turn. Obelisk has already mentioned this in his deep dive into the Copen, but I'll restate it here because it really is that damn important: Do most of your braking in a straight line and only chuck it into a turn when you're almost fully off the brakes. In a momentum car such as the Copen, preserving speed through corners is tantamount to a good time, and nothing bleeds speed quite like snappy weight shifts or a meeting with the barrier.

Alsace - Test Course__1.jpeg


Annoyingly for a car with notably soft springs, the Copen is confoundingly bad at dealing with bumps and kerbs on the road. With a car this small, you'll often find yourself riding rumble strips whole to maximise the course, but the Copen has a very pronounced pause after being flung airbourne by these rumble strips before the springs and tyres find grip back on terra firma, instead of simply wafting past these road imperfections like most cars I complain about being soft. I'm guessing this is the one case wherein a car's lightness works against it? This problem is most prominently felt at the Inner Loop of Watkins Glen, though other tracks like Alsace Test Course can also bounce this problem into the limelight. I'm not saying to avoid these bumpy shortcuts; they're very much still the fastest way around the corners. Just make sure to leave a bit of buffer room in the "landing zone" to give the car some time to find its footing.

Tsukuba Circuit__2.jpeg


Overall, the Copen is an inoffensive, solid all rounder of a sporty Kei car. With just a few tweaks to its engine mapping and a bit of beefing up to its suspension, I think it could've been something really spectacular. As it comes from the factory though, I think it's better for cruising around a tight city than it is tackling even the narrowest and winding of racetracks.

Grand Bazaar_.jpeg


********************​

"You beat Vic in the race! Well done! I knew you could do it, XSquareStickIt!", boomed Sarah's voice on cue with the sound of the door bursting open. Good thing I was taking off the top half of my suit and not the bottom.

"Eh, I got lucky. I started near pole and he got caught in traffic."

"I think you really might have what it takes to be someone really special here in Seven Haven, XSquareStickIt!"

"A-are you... listening to me?"

"How was the car? I bet it was great, wasn't it?"

"It was alright. Fun for one make races, but I don't think it'd be something I seek out again in the future."

"Ehhhh? But why not?"

I sigh. "You remember the day I first got here and you pulled some tendons out my socket dragging me around town? The Honda Fit I drove that day would run circles around it. And the events in Seven Haven have only gotten faster and faster since then. I really don't know what I ought to be doing with a car slower than that Fit."

"Why, enjoy it, if course! Cruise around the beautiful nature with the top down, soak in the sun and the attention you get when you roll up at GT Café, connect with new people..."

Yeah, maybe I ought to. It's just ironic how cars have become a stressful, transactional thing ever since they became my jobs. I suppose the surefire way to make yourself hate something is to make it your job. Maybe I ought to learn to relax a little before I burn myself out.

"...make you a millionaire, you know, the list is endless!"

"Yeah, maybe one day... hey, uh, are you... free? To grab... a MILLIONAIRE?!"

"Mm hmm! You heard me! There's this annual endurance series for Kei Cars held at Autopolis for Kei cars up to 400PP. The top prize is a cool 1.2 million Credits!"

"What's the competition like? Moves, Storias, Wakes, Midgets?"

"Beats and S660s."

"You're insane."

"...oh. You too, huh?"

Uh-oh! This conversation got real serious, real quick! What did I say? What did I do? I feel like I've accidentally put out the sun by sneezing or something, WHAT IS GOING ON? How can Sarah be sad? What did I do? What do I do?!

********************​

"Well now, ain't that a cute sight, that is, right there. What can I do yer for, stranger? Turn it into a top fuel dragster?", said the big, bald, burly man in betraying blue under the company's really red banner as he chuckled at the sight of a fat old man tumbling out of a car way too hip for him.

"Argh! Oof! Ahh... Ugh, seriously? Calling a tuner shop 'Understeer'? What next, a tyre company calling themselves 'Triangle Tyres'? An insurance company named 'Ham Kah Chan'?"

"A rose by any other name, son. Ya here to pimp yer ride, or pick a fight? I've got High Lift Camshafts lubed up ready to stick up yours and grill over anti lag flames."

"I'm here to tune a car to pick a fight."

"Music to my ears either way, sonny. You got a benchmark or budget?"

"I'm told... to get this car as close to, but under... (I'm getting pranked, aren't I?) 400PP"

"Iiinnnnteresting, son. I think your best bet would be a power build, being a FF and all."

"Unfortunately, nah. I need a more frugal setup. It's going to have to last an hour on full tilt."

"400PP for a whole hour, eh? I'm startin' to get the picture, son. I'd recommend you start with weight savings, yeah. Weight is the main enemy to longevity, see-"

"Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeah, I know. How much can you take out of the car?"

"For Stage 1, we swap the car's batteries for a lighter variant. We also remove the car's weighty air con and stereo systems. Once we do this, the changes can't be undone, so make sure-"

"WHAT?"

"Ya hard on hearing, son? Need me to speak up?"

"Which goon of a mechanic can't put back batteries and air con after they've ripped them out?!"

"If you have a change of heart, son, you can always buy a whole new body for the car at... 21,600 Credits."

"THAT COSTS MORE THAN THE WHOLE CAR WHEN IT WAS NEW!"

"Logistics don't always work out for the end user for a small company such as ourselves, who hire only the most talented technicians that take the utmost–"

"Y-Y'know what? Nevermind the weight. 830 kilos is plenty light enough. Can I have a cage and some lightweight wheels?"

"Them's GT Auto's bidness next door."

"What? They're a car maintenance shop, and you're a tuning shop, why are you—"

"Them's the breaks, son."

"An AWD swap?"

"Only at our Mexican Branch."

"God's sake... Tyres. You have tyres? Comfort Softs? Do you weld them to the wheels and driveshafts? Can your mechanics take off a worn set, or do I have to buy a whole new car at inflated prices for fresh tyres?"

"You're looking to enter the Autopolis One Hour Kei Endurance for lil' Sarah, ain'tcha?"

H-how did he... That came out of nowhere!

I stood there, still with a dumbstruck look on my face. One moment this guy looks like a complete moron, and the next, it's like he has psychic powers. "You know Sarah?"

"Ain't a person here in Seven Haven who dunn' know her, son. But at the same time... hardly anyone here in Seven Haven knows her, either."

"What... are you talking about?"

"Lil' Sarah's not that good at talking 'bout herself. Unless you got special treatment?"

"N-no, nothing of the sort. I know nothing about her, either."

I never did stop to think about it.

"Well, either way, have a good package tune for the Copen, actually. Low ratio manual transmission, sports suspension, a smarter chip, freer flowing exhaust, more resilient brake pads, lighter flywheels, a fuel controller, and Stage 1 weight reduction... basically, what the spec car folks run. Battle tested base tune, easy to build further upon. We've done this for a great many folk."

"Hmm? Nah. I want full customisability for the Suspension, Diff, and Gearbox."

"You sure that's not overkill, son? We have 'em, sure, but they'll 'COST MORE THAN THE WHOLE CAR WHEN IT WAS NEW' y'know?", he says with a chuckle. Sigh. And this is why the end user loses out in a monopoly.

"You get what you pay for, right? They're more worthwhile in the long term in case she ever gets serious about this."

"Ain't your first rodeo, I hope?"

"It's been a while since my last."

"You got the Credits?"

"No discount for the Understeer decals on the car?"

"I'll throw in the fuel controller and your second set of tyres for free."

"Fair enough."

At checkout, this is what my shopping list looked like:

ITEM:
PRICE (Cr.):
Comfort: Soft
COMPLEMENTARY​
Comfort: Soft
1,120​
Fully Customizable Suspension
12,000​
Fully Customizable Differential
5,250​
Full Customizable Computer
3,500​
Fully Customizable Manual Transmission
11,000​
High–RPM Turbocharger
17,200​
Racing Intercooler
3,100​
Racing Air Filter
2,000​
Racing Muffler
7,000​
Racing Exhaust Manifold
2,450​
Racing Brake Pads
1,000​
Brake Balance Controller
1,500​
Power Fuel Controller
COMPLEMENTARY​
—​
—​
Grand Total:
46,420
Power:
62HP→115HP
Weight:
830kg (1,830lbs)→830kg (1,830lbs)
Performance Points:
292.88PP→399.80PP
—​
—​
THANK YOU AND PLEASE COME AGAIN.
Understeer Engineering

...plus another 4,000 Credits for a set of lightweight 14–Inch Yokohama ADVAN Racing GT wheels from GT Auto. Yes, downsized from the stock 15s. I hear large wheels aren't that good for fuel economy. Wouldn't want a puncture at the 59th minute, either. I think 14s are much more proportionate to the rest of the car, anyway. I wanted a roll cage, but I literally cannot contort my fat body enough to get into and out of the Kei car with the cage, so I guess the strat come Sunday is to "just not crash". Or get crashed into. My experience tells me that's more often than not the optimal strat to win races.

With this being someone else's car, I wanted to make sure that I only did bolt on mods, so that they can be easily removed or undone if not to Sarah's liking. With this being her only car as well, I wanted to retain the car's usability as a road car, which meant that the air con and stereo had to stay, and I opted for the adjustable manual gearbox instead of the sequential, keeping the car's stock clutch and flywheel so it doesn't stall easily. It's also for this reason that I didn't opt for the carbon ceramic brakes. That, and, well, the OE brakes on this thing work just fine, honestly. I think putting carbon ceramics on this thing is liable to fire off the car's airbags on full braking. Only change to the braking system are uprated pads (because they're cheap) and a brake balance controller to shift as much braking load to the rear as possible to preserve front tyre life. And after that, all that remained was adding power while keeping within 400PP... whatever that means. To this end, a high RPM Turbo kit replaces the wanting stock blowers. The full racing, straight pipe exhaust looks stupid as a single exit pokes out of a rear bumper with cutouts for two, and it sounds like a sexually aroused moose with anal cancer passing gas, but it's a necessary part with the big turbo. I'm definitely taking them off first thing after the race.

"Ain't every day I get a nutjob cruise up to my humble shop ready to drop BMW i3 money on parts alone, lemme tell ya! Whoo! This calls for a drink!"

"I don't like half assing things. Often works to my detriment."

He turns his back to me, half bottle in one hand and grabbing tool after tool off the wall with the other, knowing full well what his next job would entail, and exactly which tools in which sizes he'd need for said job. "Ain't my tale to tell, but if you're dropping this much money to risk life and limb for her out on the track, I figure ya oughta know."

"Know what?"

"That it ain't easy being a car girl. She used to get mocked a lot in school by the hardcore kids for liking the Copen. You know, the Skyline, Supra, VTEC crowd. They think she says she likes cars just to be popular with the boys. Kids are cruel like that."

"I know."

"But Sarah liked what she liked. No a'changin that. Kids have a way of fixating on the first thing that catches their attention, y' hear? Sometimes it even ends up definin' their whole lives."

"I know."

"She had a rough go at it, growing up. That's why she's so bright and bubbly, y'know? She dunn' want no one to feel what she felt. You could tell her you like a total toilet of a car like the MiTo and she'd be all like, 'Oh, that's a great car, I'm happy for you! I'm sure you'll have many special moments and memories with the car!' Or some generic crap like that."

"I know."

"But, see... hrragh! That there's the problem if you ask an old tuning shop fart like me. You don't recognise faults and fix 'em, you never improve."

"I know."

"S'ppose you can see it in her car: it's her ideal Copen; perfect the way it is. Just the way she saw it in magazines 'n blog posts way back when. Her keepin' it bone stock must be like a middle finger to the pops and bangs crowd. It's one thing standin' up for yerself and what you love, but lil' Sarah—maybe it's not my place to be sayin' this—I think she's stuck where she stood firm in the past. Ain't no way to be livin' life, 'specially not a car life."

"I know."

"I don't know who you are, stranger. But I'm glad you sparked sumthin' in Sarah. Girl's been radiating a million watt smile from a dead battery for years. Can't even imagine what it's been doin' to her soul."

Just as he finishes saying that, a trolley full of boxes; big, small, and everything in between, is pushed up to the side of the Copen, along with a bevy of tools ready to intrude. "Competition's got its way of forcing change in folk, lemme tell ya. High time 'lil Sarah grew up a little. Methinks this Copen's been waiting to have its cherry popped for a long time."

"I kno—wait, WHAT?!"

"GAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA! Don't worry too much 'bout it, son. I think she'll be plenty happy just to have someone stand by her and take 'er seriously. Just don't crash and you'll be fine."

"At Autopolis? In a Copen? Not likely."

"Ahh haha! Those're fighting words backed by pro experience, ain't they."

Aw crap, now I'm the one who spoke too much.

********************​

グランツーリスモ™ 7_20230414121910.png


I'll be extra honest when saying this: I have severe doubts about this whole shebang from the start.

Strolling through the pits, I feel like I've somehow mistakenly driven into a S660 vs Beat grudge match: those were all the cars I've seen in the paddock thus far. Is there a clearance sale for these cars I missed, or what? It's enough to make me doubt my sanity and check again and again the official paperwork that I've shown up at the right time and the right place with an eligible car. Then again, I'm showing up to an endurance race with an FF car—almost literally the one legged man in an ass kicking contest. I don't think sanity is quite in the cards for me.

グランツーリスモ™ 7_20230415022919.png


The Honda Beat, despite being a brilliant car in its own right, I'm not so worried about; those damn things are death traps even with fresh tyres. Rather, it's the Honda S660 that concerns me: Not only does the Copen weigh the exact same as the much more modern midship, but the damn thing has a 6 speed mated to a highly versatile powerplant. Plus, most of these cars have GT Wings and sequential gearboxes from the sound of it. Seriously, a GT Wing, on a Kei car that struggles to hit 160km/h on the downhill back straight of Autopolis? Anti Lag in a fuel constrained race? Had the event regulations not limited our cars to 400PP and Comfort Soft tyres, these guys would have thrown their souls into the bin if it meant making them a car that looked or sounded faster.

In other words, I think I rolled up to a typical Honda meet with a Daihatsu Copen.

And, of all the tracks to have this Kei car grudge match on, Autopolis was their great idea? The track that's renowned for boring, impossible to overtake races even with the blistering, incomprehensible speed of Super Formula cars? Yeah, that track, and not even the mercifully self aware shortcut course, either, but the full 4.7km bonanza of boring. This is a track with a million different feasible lines through its non flowing corners, and none of them feel right.

All of that works perfectly to my advantage in the Copen.

Autopolis International Racing Course__6.jpeg


Due to the handling deficit of being FF, my Copen was allowed to have more power than the rest of the field. Being a full sized course usually hosting faster machinery, this track is WAY too long for Kei cars... which means many, many prolonged seconds of full throttle simply waiting to get to the next corner, during which I effortlessly sailed past the sequential Hondas with the full force of 400 primed peepees pinning me to the back of my seat... whatever those are.

Autopolis International Racing Course_.jpeg


The car as a whole felt immense! I'm not sure what Sarah or Understeer did to the steering of the Copen, but it felt WAY stronger with much more granular feel than the last Copen I drove two years ago, which allowed me to feel almost literally with my fingertips the condition of the front tyres as the event wore on. With the uprated springs and shortened ratios, the Copen felt like a lighter and angrier supercharged Mini. It's one of the very few, if not only FF car I've driven that genuinely wants to rotate mid corner instead of simply turning and dragging its arse along. I hardly even did anything to the default settings of the fully customisable parts I bought, either; they're set up out of the box to give a comfortable, capable base, one that only requires tinkering to suit personal tastes, but it's plenty good enough for me as it is.

Autopolis International Racing Course__8.jpeg


The only slight complaint I had during shakedown was that the only thing high about the High RPM Turbo Kit was the person when they named it; peak power is still squarely in the stock car's region of ~6,500rpm, and the car still dies past 7,5. And to think, this stupid snail is almost the cost of the entire car when brand new! However, those complaints quickly evaporated when the COTW technicians told me that the turbo was generating its peak boost of 0.5 Bar from as middling as 5,500rpm, though it's a shame that neither Toyota nor Understeer had a turbo gauge to fit in the car. With torque that far down and gear ratios that short, I was even taking the slowest corner of the course, the hairpin turning away from the Shortcut Corse, in 3rd. Because my car retained the 3 pedal setup, I could even skip shift from 3rd to 5th on the downhill back straight to save fuel, and the car's stupid mid range torque just made it seem natural.

Autopolis International Racing Course__3.jpeg


All this meant that I kept the revs low and could save fuel where the peaky Hondas had to rev out their VTECs, and they still couldn't match my pace on the straights! The quickest of those even had to make two stops for fuel within the hour, whereas I made do with just one stop with a slightly lean fuel mix. Yes, I was getting out braked and out cornered. Yes, my front left tyre was almost completely out of tread when I pit for a new set. But after a dominant few opening laps, the Honda drivers fell back, almost as if they gave up. Even as my lap times went off a cliff witb my front tyres, they never did catch up. They just could not cope with the Copen.

And, you know what? I'd be lying if I wrote that I didn't have the goofiest smile on my face the entire time. The 1.2 million winning prize was just the cherry on the Active Top :)

********************​

"ES! ES! ESSSSSSS! HE DID IT! HE WON! MY COPPY WOOOOOON!"

"I was watching. Congratulations are in order!"

"C'mon Es, I just got 600k for that! Lemme treat you to some Affogato at the GT Café. You HAVE to come! You can't say no to Affogato!"

"I'd love to, Rahrah, but I... ah sh— YARD! PUT THAT PLASMA CUTTER DOWN! We have procedures— OBELISK! OBELISK RUN!"

"Heehee. Is everyone at Car of the Week like this? Es? Es, you there?"

"Haaaah... god's sake... No, no not really. Honestly, if you just wanted your Coppy to win, I'm sure all you had to do was to ask Vic. Would've been way easier than doing all this."

"I just hoped that the ride in the Copen was what he needed, Es. I've never seen someone so sad in Seven Haven before. I mean, gosh, it's right there in the name, isn't it?! It's illegal to be that gloomy here!"

"Still can't stand seeing people sad, huh?"

"Yeah, but honestly, how did you do it? Everything went exactly like you said it would!"

"I've edited that man's diatribe for 3 years now, I think I know the way his brain works."

"You're so evil, Es!"

"I'm just good at my job, Rahrah. Lee—XSquareStickIt—is a critic. He tends to see the negatives first. Sometimes he doesn't get past that. I think that's especially true for how he sees himself. He often needs those around him to pull his head out his ass to see the bigger picture. I... probably shouldn't have sent him alone to Seven Haven, in retrospect. It's just... this new writer, he..."

"Maybe... maybe I'll tell him to... um... 'get his head out his ass' next time we meet. Did I say that right?"

"Y–you will? Sarah, that's... wow."

"I know. I need to change. As do you, and everyone else."
 
Systematic shouting and rhythmic beeping backed by a constant, low hymn of a diesel engine chugging along tells me that work is about to begin for the second time since I moved to Seven Haven, and hopefully it'd be something much more pleasant to sleep in than a weathered and wrung 1990 Mazda.

Clawing the sand from my eyes, I felt my way around the walls of the pitch black, unfamiliar garage, trying to get the door. The year long moving process has taken its toll, and embers still remain from the utter train wreck—

"Good morning, XSquareStickIt!", came Sarah's cheerful voice from the other side of the door before it was even fully open. Her usual, uncanny excitement meant she barely even had to raise her voice to be heard over the trucks and truckers. The morning sun pierces my ill adjusted eyes, causing me to recoil into the familiar, yet fleeting darkness of the garage. Urgh, why'd they have to build the door facing the freaking sunrise...

"Morning, sleepy head! The next car's here! Aren't you excited? I can't wait to see what it is! Why don't you go take a look?"

This is already too much adrenaline in the morning for my retired racing driver bones to handle.

"Mnng...", I mumble in feeble attempt to return her greeting. It's always tiring trying to match Sarah's tempo, and so I decide to do as she said and mosey on over to where the cargo had just been lowered. It was still covered in a tarp way too big for it, with the whole thing looking no wider than a Queen size bed and not much taller than a kiddy pool. I guess it's another week of sleeping in the Mazda, then.

"Shall I?", Sarah eagerly lifts a corner of the tarp to her chest with both her clenched fists, glimmering eyes locked in my direction and beaming her sun rivaling smile squarely at me. I gesture for her to just "get on with it", and she tears away at the tarp with a twirl of her entire body, wrapping herself up with it in the process, which does nothing at all to hide her boundless zeal. "Ta–daa~!"

View attachment 1248065

"Urgh Esther WHAT THE HELL?!", I awake with a furor. Of all the colours and liveries she could've sent for testing, reviewing, and photo shooting, THIS was the best she can do?!

"What's wrong, don't you like it?" Sarah quizzically quips. It's really annoying how bad she is at reading the room and situation, but at the same time, it's impossible to hate someone with a pure heart and smile like that. I try my best to not drag her down, but as you can probably tell, I'm not very good at it, especially when I'm exiled out here to the purgatory that is Seven Haven, and my office keeps sending me stuff like chip computers and exhaust pipes for cars I don't have with me, expecting me to review them. Am I supposed to smash them together and tell you how well they function as a loudspeaker?

And this was the last straw the broke the camel's back. "IT'S ****ING PINK!"

"Hey, it's got a four cylinder engine—rare for a Kei car. And I love the fully automatic roof of this Active Top model!"

"That adds thirty kilos to its kerb mass!"

"It's got a five speed manual!"

"Geared to the moon!"

"It revs to 9,000rpm!"

"It dies past 7,000!"

"Hmph! You have no idea how much attention you'll get parking this at the GT Café—the gathering spot for enthusiasts the world over, mind you!"

Sarah, "Hmph"ing me? That's... so out of character for her that it's downright eerie, despite her cartoonishly playful pout, like a pissed off caterpillar in its cocoon. I wonder if it's something I said?

Trying to find something nice to say about the car, I open the driver side door to find...

"EWW! It's an automatic?!"

"Well, this is a surprise! I can't say I've seen one with an automatic gearbox before in Seven Haven. Wouldn't it be good to review one in automatic, after your initial review of a manual two years ago?"

After a prolonged, exasperated sigh that was more a cry for help than a sigh, I whimper, "if I have to".

********************​

View attachment 1248066

Race day came as it always does, and one thing very quickly became clear simply by listening to the cars from the pit lane: my peers were mostly driving manual Copens, including but not limited to Obelisk, who brought his darling spec cup car to the meet, and Vic, who may or may not be a malevolent AI coded with a singular purpose of destroying any racer on the track with humanly impossible pace. Still trying to figure that one out after three years.

I'm no stranger to losing races to such stiff competition, but if we are to test for the pace difference between an automatic and manual, shouldn't the faster guys be saddled with the automatic instead? "An Automatic Win! Retired Racing Driver Tries To Beat The Algorithm: Lap Number 5 Will SHOCK You!!!" is a title that practically writes itself. As stated earlier, Vic is a malevolent AI whose literal and singular purpose in this world is to humiliate us with equal machinery, and you'll have to surgically remove the 5 speed manual gear lever from Obelisk's rectum with a plasma cutter to seperate him from his beloved Copen, and I doubt even our handy fireman, Yard_Sale, has either the hardware or expertise for that.

I might be a retired racing driver, but one thing that refuses to get left behind is a competitive fire: When I see someone else doing what I do, but better, it burns me up inside. It could be anything: driving, writing, being happy... doesn't matter: I want to win. I can't explain it. That's all there is to it.

"ESTHEEEEER!", I bellow out the moment the call connected, the pit walls adding a demonic echo to my agony. "WHY'D YOU SEND ME AN AUTOMATIC?! EVERYONE BUT ME AND BARON HAS A MANUAL!"

"We ran out of manuals", was her calm to a point of dismissive reply.

And that was that, really. What more do you want me to say to that?

"If you insist on a manual...", she unexpectedly continues after my dejected silence. "You'll have to source one for yourself in Seven Haven. You should have about 4 minutes and 27 seconds before race start. Your best bet would be to ask the locals."

"What are the chances that someone here just randomly has a bone stock 2002 Copen with the rare 5 speed stick, charitable enough to loan it to a total stranger that has 0 Credits in his racing suit?!"

"I don't see how I can help you with that over the phone."
Translation: I don't see how that is my problem.

"May I hang up now? I have my job as an editor to attend to."
Translation: Shut up and leave me alone.

"Hello, XSquareStickIt!"

"YIIIIAAAARGH!"

click

"Would you like to borrow my Copen?"

"Can you please stop calling me by my full— wait, what?"

Sarah leans in towards me, ripping my radio earpieces from my ears, and playfully raising her voice, "WOULD YOU LIKE TO BORROW MY COPEN?!"

I clamp down on her forearms in sheer excitement and likewise lean in towards her face, bringing us closer than we've ever been. Shouting even louder back at her, "YEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!"

********************​

View attachment 1248067

Debuting in 2002, the diminutive Daihatsu Copen was almost a lone lighthouse in a very dark time for the car enthusiast. With stricter emission laws that year dealing the final blow to beloved classics like the Supra, RX-7, GT-R, GTO, and Silvia, the light, cheap, cheerful, peppy, and very agile Copen proves that not all sporting spirit is dead in Japan. As history has now shown us with various martyrs like the AZ-1 and S660, sporty Kei cars are a packaging paradox that don't tend to sell, but the Copen defies this trend by still being in healthy production today, some 21 years after its debut, out–lasting its sporty brethren regardless of size. Clearly, Toyota has gotten something very, very right with the Copen that other manufacturers aren't privy to. But what is it exactly that makes it so special?

View attachment 1248068

To me, it's the fact that the Copen is sensibly front wheel drive, instead of its other sporty Kei companions that try to adopt rear wheel drive like a full sized car. With a wheelbase that short, the cars inevitably become incredibly snappy and tail happy things, and that's before some manufacturers go the extra inch to sling the engine aft the cockpit or freaking turbocharge them, turning them into widowmakers wearing a Kei car smile that would even cause seasoned racing drivers to express concern over driving on the public roads. The sensible front wheel drive layout coupled with the meticulous reliability and build quality Toyota are known for results in a safe, cheap, economical, fun, agile, and solid car that reliably puts a smile on its driver's face, on or off the track.

View attachment 1248069

That is, if you spec your Copen with a manual gearbox.

The most immediate thing that strikes one when driving the Copen is, well, how slow it is. With only 62HP, I could slip into and wake from a several boredom induced comas before the Copen hits 100km/h from a downhill standing start with tailwind. But, there's a slight trick to that 62HP; said 62HP only happens at 6,400rpm, and so you think, "wow, that's high up. It's a rev–it–out engine, then?" Except, you'd be wrong, because 6,5 is mere middling range for the minuscule JB-DET engine, which can spin all the way up to a Supra surpassing, S2000 rivaling 9,000rpm before fuel cut! Not that there's much of a chance anyone experiences fuel cut in the Copen, as the high revving engine isn't rev happy at all, terminally hyperventilating past 7,000rpm. With the rather wide ratios of the 5 speed gearbox, 7,500rpm is the highest the engine will realistically see on the racetrack before the clutch pedal is pressed in. The power loss is so severe that first timer drivers who rev their Copens to near redline will get gapped by several car lengths by a driver who shifts the Copen correctly. Well, several Copen car lengths, but several car lengths, nonetheless.

View attachment 1248070

Even when specced and driven correctly however, there is nothing a Kei car can do to hide its lack of speed on a racetrack. While full sized cars with their full sized power look to smoothly connect out–in–out lines to maximise turning radii and minimise speed loss, the to–do list in the Copen is instead to simply find the shortest distance through a ribbon of asphalt, as its low speed and narrow body often mean that it will have turning radius and grip to spare through many of the turns of the wide, smooth, sanctioned racetracks meant to facilitate battle among GT3 and LMP1 machines. If the 203HP FC RX-7 from last week found most of these sanitised racetracks way too wide and smooth, then putting a Kei car on them feels like putting a paper plane on an actual runway. In fact, it's only at cumbersome, undignified bottlenecks of certain circuits where racing drivers have to damn near stall their racing cars, like the pit entry of Autopolis, that the Copen feels in its element. Suffice it to say that the Copen doesn't give that sensation often, and it's such a shame. I can only hope to imagine what these Kei cars must feel like at racing pace going door to door with each other in more confined spaces, such as the GT Arena nestled inside a stadium, or even the claustrophobic streets of Citta di Aria. Even Tsukuba feels too big and wide for these cars!

View attachment 1248071

One track that did feel a good fit for the Copen is the rallycross layout of Catalunya, and driving the Copen there was a real eye opening experience! Simply equipping Dirt tyres on the Copen shoots its PP value up from 292.88 to 338.58, and that's because those Dirt tyres are much, much more grippy even on the paved asphalt than the car's default road tyres! I could crank the wheel so much farther and with so much aggression that the car almost felt like it'd tip over before the tyres let go in the tightest bits of the circuit. Even on loose dirt surfaces, the Dirt tyres offered such an abundance of grip that one could Scandi Flick the car with the smallest amount of brake input. Between the short wheelbase, supple suspension, and gobs of turbocharged low end torque, the Copen felt remarkably like a pint sized rally car!

View attachment 1248072

On paved tarmac though, that soft suspension setup can become a slight problem, even with miserable Comfort Medium tyres. Under hard braking loads, the rear end can easily become rather detached from the road, and aggressive trail braking can transform the Copen Active Top into the Copen Hyperactive Rear. While this is very helpful for tight, low speed corners, it can be quite a harrowing experience at higher speed turns taken at triple digit km/h speeds. Of course, the car can't possibly carry a slide elegantly through to the corner exit, being FF, and so what tends to happen in these scenarios is that the car can go from oversteering into the apex of a corner to suddenly understeering into the outside barrier of the turn. Obelisk has already mentioned this in his deep dive into the Copen, but I'll restate it here because it really is that damn important: Do most of your braking in a straight line and only chuck it into a turn when you're almost fully off the brakes. In a momentum car such as the Copen, preserving speed through corners is tantamount to a good time, and nothing bleeds speed quite like snappy weight shifts or a meeting with the barrier.

View attachment 1248073

Annoyingly for a car with notably soft springs, the Copen is confoundingly bad at dealing with bumps and kerbs on the road. With a car this small, you'll often find yourself riding rumble strips whole to maximise the course, but the Copen has a very pronounced pause after being flung airbourne by these rumble strips before the springs and tyres find grip back on terra firma, instead of simply wafting past these road imperfections like most cars I complain about being soft. I'm guessing this is the one case wherein a car's lightness works against it? This problem is most prominently felt at the Inner Loop of Watkins Glen, though other tracks like Alsace Test Course can also bounce this problem into the limelight. I'm not saying to avoid these bumpy shortcuts; they're very much still the fastest way around the corners. Just make sure to leave a bit of buffer room in the "landing zone" to give the car some time to find its footing.

View attachment 1248074

Overall, the Copen is an inoffensive, solid all rounder of a sporty Kei car. With just a few tweaks to its engine mapping and a bit of beefing up to its suspension, I think it could've been something really spectacular. As it comes from the factory though, I think it's better for cruising around a tight city than it is tackling even the narrowest and winding of racetracks.

View attachment 1248075

********************​

"You beat Vic in the race! Well done! I knew you could do it, XSquareStickIt!", boomed Sarah's voice on cue with the sound of the door bursting open. Good thing I was taking off the top half of my suit and not the bottom.

"Eh, I got lucky. I started near pole and he got caught in traffic."

"I think you really might have what it takes to be someone really special here in Seven Haven, XSquareStickIt!"

"A-are you... listening to me?"

"How was the car? I bet it was great, wasn't it?"

"It was alright. Fun for one make races, but I don't think it'd be something I seek out again in the future."

"Ehhhh? But why not?"

I sigh. "You remember the day I first got here and you pulled some tendons out my socket dragging me around town? The Honda Fit I drove that day would run circles around it. And the events in Seven Haven have only gotten faster and faster since then. I really don't know what I ought to be doing with a car slower than that Fit."

"Why, enjoy it, if course! Cruise around the beautiful nature with the top down, soak in the sun and the attention you get when you roll up at GT Café, connect with new people..."

Yeah, maybe I ought to. It's just ironic how cars have become a stressful, transactional thing ever since they became my jobs. I suppose the surefire way to make yourself hate something is to make it your job. Maybe I ought to learn to relax a little before I burn myself out.

"...make you a millionaire, you know, the list is endless!"

"Yeah, maybe one day... hey, uh, are you... free? To grab... a MILLIONAIRE?!"

"Mm hmm! You heard me! There's this annual endurance series for Kei Cars held at Autopolis for Kei cars up to 400PP. The top prize is a cool 1.2 million Credits!"

"What's the competition like? Moves, Storias, Wakes, Midgets?"

"Beats and S660s."

"You're insane."

"...oh. You too, huh?"

Uh-oh! This conversation got real serious, real quick! What did I say? What did I do? I feel like I've accidentally put out the sun by sneezing or something, WHAT IS GOING ON? How can Sarah be sad? What did I do? What do I do?!

********************​

"Well now, ain't that a cute sight, that is, right there. What can I do yer for, stranger? Turn it into a top fuel dragster?", said the big, bald, burly man in betraying blue under the company's really red banner as he chuckled at the sight of a fat old man tumbling out of a car way too hip for him.

"Argh! Oof! Ahh... Ugh, seriously? Calling a tuner shop 'Understeer'? What next, a tyre company calling themselves 'Triangle Tyres'? An insurance company named 'Ham Kah Chan'?"

"A rose by any other name, son. Ya here to pimp yer ride, or pick a fight? I've got High Lift Camshafts lubed up ready to stick up yours and grill over anti lag flames."

"I'm here to tune a car to pick a fight."

"Music to my ears either way, sonny. You got a benchmark or budget?"

"I'm told... to get this car as close to, but under... (I'm getting pranked, aren't I?) 400PP"

"Iiinnnnteresting, son. I think your best bet would be a power build, being a FF and all."

"Unfortunately, nah. I need a more frugal setup. It's going to have to last an hour on full tilt."

"400PP for a whole hour, eh? I'm startin' to get the picture, son. I'd recommend you start with weight savings, yeah. Weight is the main enemy to longevity, see-"

"Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeah, I know. How much can you take out of the car?"

"For Stage 1, we swap the car's batteries for a lighter variant. We also remove the car's weighty air con and stereo systems. Once we do this, the changes can't be undone, so make sure-"

"WHAT?"

"Ya hard on hearing, son? Need me to speak up?"

"Which goon of a mechanic can't put back batteries and air con after they've ripped them out?!"

"If you have a change of heart, son, you can always buy a whole new body for the car at... 21,600 Credits."

"THAT COSTS MORE THAN THE WHOLE CAR WHEN IT WAS NEW!"

"Logistics don't always work out for the end user for a small company such as ourselves, who hire only the most talented technicians that take the utmost–"

"Y-Y'know what? Nevermind the weight. 830 kilos is plenty light enough. Can I have a cage and some lightweight wheels?"

"Them's GT Auto's bidness next door."

"What? They're a car maintenance shop, and you're a tuning shop, why are you—"

"Them's the breaks, son."

"An AWD swap?"

"Only at our Mexican Branch."

"God's sake... Tyres. You have tyres? Comfort Softs? Do you weld them to the wheels and driveshafts? Can your mechanics take off a worn set, or do I have to buy a whole new car at inflated prices for fresh tyres?"

"You're looking to enter the Autopolis One Hour Kei Endurance for lil' Sarah, ain'tcha?"

H-how did he... That came out of nowhere!

I stood there, still with a dumbstruck look on my face. One moment this guy looks like a complete moron, and the next, it's like he has psychic powers. "You know Sarah?"

"Ain't a person here in Seven Haven who dunn' know her, son. But at the same time... hardly anyone here in Seven Haven knows her, either."

"What... are you talking about?"

"Lil' Sarah's not that good at talking 'bout herself. Unless you got special treatment?"

"N-no, nothing of the sort. I know nothing about her, either."

I never did stop to think about it.

"Well, either way, have a good package tune for the Copen, actually. Low ratio manual transmission, sports suspension, a smarter chip, freer flowing exhaust, more resilient brake pads, lighter flywheels, a fuel controller, and Stage 1 weight reduction... basically, what the spec car folks run. Battle tested base tune, easy to build further upon. We've done this for a great many folk."

"Hmm? Nah. I want full customisability for the Suspension, Diff, and Gearbox."

"You sure that's not overkill, son? We have 'em, sure, but they'll 'COST MORE THAN THE WHOLE CAR WHEN IT WAS NEW' y'know?", he says with a chuckle. Sigh. And this is why the end user loses out in a monopoly.

"You get what you pay for, right? They're more worthwhile in the long term in case she ever gets serious about this."

"Ain't your first rodeo, I hope?"

"It's been a while since my last."

"You got the Credits?"

"No discount for the Understeer decals on the car?"

"I'll throw in the fuel controller and your second set of tyres for free."

"Fair enough."

At checkout, this is what my shopping list looked like:

ITEM:
PRICE (Cr.):
Comfort: Soft
COMPLEMENTARY​
Comfort: Soft
1,120​
Fully Customizable Suspension
12,000​
Fully Customizable Differential
5,250​
Full Customizable Computer
3,500​
Fully Customizable Manual Transmission
11,000​
High–RPM Turbocharger
17,200​
Racing Intercooler
3,100​
Racing Air Filter
2,000​
Racing Muffler
7,000​
Racing Exhaust Manifold
2,450​
Racing Brake Pads
1,000​
Brake Balance Controller
1,500​
Power Fuel Controller
COMPLEMENTARY​
—​
—​
Grand Total:
46,420
Power:
62HP→115HP
Weight:
830kg (1,830lbs)→830kg (1,830lbs)
Performance Points:
292.88PP→399.80PP
—​
—​
THANK YOU AND PLEASE COME AGAIN.
Understeer Engineering

...plus another 4,000 Credits for a set of lightweight 14–Inch Yokohama ADVAN Racing GT wheels from GT Auto. Yes, downsized from the stock 15s. I hear large wheels aren't that good for fuel economy. Wouldn't want a puncture at the 59th minute, either. I think 14s are much more proportionate to the rest of the car, anyway. I wanted a roll cage, but I literally cannot contort my fat body enough to get into and out of the Kei car with the cage, so I guess the strat come Sunday is to "just not crash". Or get crashed into. My experience tells me that's more often than not the optimal strat to win races.

With this being someone else's car, I wanted to make sure that I only did bolt on mods, so that they can be easily removed or undone if not to Sarah's liking. With this being her only car as well, I wanted to retain the car's usability as a road car, which meant that the air con and stereo had to stay, and I opted for the adjustable manual gearbox instead of the sequential, keeping the car's stock clutch and flywheel so it doesn't stall easily. It's also for this reason that I didn't opt for the carbon ceramic brakes. That, and, well, the OE brakes on this thing work just fine, honestly. I think putting carbon ceramics on this thing is liable to fire off the car's airbags on full braking. Only change to the braking system are uprated pads (because they're cheap) and a brake balance controller to shift as much braking load to the rear as possible to preserve front tyre life. And after that, all that remained was adding power while keeping within 400PP... whatever that means. To this end, a high RPM Turbo kit replaces the wanting stock blowers. The full racing, straight pipe exhaust looks stupid as a single exit pokes out of a rear bumper with cutouts for two, and it sounds like a sexually aroused moose with anal cancer passing gas, but it's a necessary part with the big turbo. I'm definitely taking them off first thing after the race.

"Ain't every day I get a nutjob cruise up to my humble shop ready to drop BMW i3 money on parts alone, lemme tell ya! Whoo! This calls for a drink!"

"I don't like half assing things. Often works to my detriment."

He turns his back to me, half bottle in one hand and grabbing tool after tool off the wall with the other, knowing full well what his next job would entail, and exactly which tools in which sizes he'd need for said job. "Ain't my tale to tell, but if you're dropping this much money to risk life and limb for her out on the track, I figure ya oughta know."

"Know what?"

"That it ain't easy being a car girl. She used to get mocked a lot in school by the hardcore kids for liking the Copen. You know, the Skyline, Supra, VTEC crowd. They think she says she likes cars just to be popular with the boys. Kids are cruel like that."

"I know."

"But Sarah liked what she liked. No a'changin that. Kids have a way of fixating on the first thing that catches their attention, y' hear? Sometimes it even ends up definin' their whole lives."

"I know."

"She had a rough go at it, growing up. That's why she's so bright and bubbly, y'know? She dunn' want no one to feel what she felt. You could tell her you like a total toilet of a car like the MiTo and she'd be all like, 'Oh, that's a great car, I'm happy for you! I'm sure you'll have many special moments and memories with the car!' Or some generic crap like that."

"I know."

"But, see... hrragh! That there's the problem if you ask an old tuning shop fart like me. You don't recognise faults and fix 'em, you never improve."

"I know."

"S'ppose you can see it in her car: it's her ideal Copen; perfect the way it is. Just the way she saw it in magazines 'n blog posts way back when. Her keepin' it bone stock must be like a middle finger to the pops and bangs crowd. It's one thing standin' up for yerself and what you love, but lil' Sarah—maybe it's not my place to be sayin' this—I think she's stuck where she stood firm in the past. Ain't no way to be livin' life, 'specially not a car life."

"I know."

"I don't know who you are, stranger. But I'm glad you sparked sumthin' in Sarah. Girl's been radiating a million watt smile from a dead battery for years. Can't even imagine what it's been doin' to her soul."

Just as he finishes saying that, a trolley full of boxes; big, small, and everything in between, is pushed up to the side of the Copen, along with a bevy of tools ready to intrude. "Competition's got its way of forcing change in folk, lemme tell ya. High time 'lil Sarah grew up a little. Methinks this Copen's been waiting to have its cherry popped for a long time."

"I kno—wait, WHAT?!"

"GAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA! Don't worry too much 'bout it, son. I think she'll be plenty happy just to have someone stand by her and take 'er seriously. Just don't crash and you'll be fine."

"At Autopolis? In a Copen? Not likely."

"Ahh haha! Those're fighting words backed by pro experience, ain't they."

Aw crap, now I'm the one who spoke too much.

********************​

View attachment 1248076

I'll be extra honest when saying this: I have severe doubts about this whole shebang from the start.

Strolling through the pits, I feel like I've somehow mistakenly driven into a S660 vs Beat grudge match: those were all the cars I've seen in the paddock thus far. Is there a clearance sale for these cars I missed, or what? It's enough to make me doubt my sanity and check again and again the official paperwork that I've shown up at the right time and the right place with an eligible car. Then again, I'm showing up to an endurance race with an FF car—almost literally the one legged man in an ass kicking contest. I don't think sanity is quite in the cards for me.

View attachment 1248077

The Honda Beat, despite being a brilliant car in its own right, I'm not so worried about; those damn things are death traps even with fresh tyres. Rather, it's the Honda S660 that concerns me: Not only does the Copen weigh the exact same as the much more modern midship, but the damn thing has a 6 speed mated to a highly versatile powerplant. Plus, most of these cars have GT Wings and sequential gearboxes from the sound of it. Seriously, a GT Wing, on a Kei car that struggles to hit 160km/h on the downhill back straight of Autopolis? Anti Lag in a fuel constrained race? Had the event regulations not limited our cars to 400PP and Comfort Soft tyres, these guys would have thrown their souls into the bin if it meant making them a car that looked or sounded faster.

In other words, I think I rolled up to a typical Honda meet with a Daihatsu Copen.

And, of all the tracks to have this Kei car grudge match on, Autopolis was their great idea? The track that's renowned for boring, impossible to overtake races even with the blistering, incomprehensible speed of Super Formula cars? Yeah, that track, and not even the mercifully self aware shortcut course, either, but the full 4.7km bonanza of boring. This is a track with a million different feasible lines through its non flowing corners, and none of them feel right.

All of that works perfectly to my advantage in the Copen.

View attachment 1248078

Due to the handling deficit of being FF, my Copen was allowed to have more power than the rest of the field. Being a full sized course usually hosting faster machinery, this track is WAY too long for Kei cars... which means many, many prolonged seconds of full throttle simply waiting to get to the next corner, during which I effortlessly sailed past the sequential Hondas with the full force of 400 primed peepees pinning me to the back of my seat... whatever those are.

View attachment 1248079

The car as a whole felt immense! I'm not sure what Sarah or Understeer did to the steering of the Copen, but it felt WAY stronger with much more granular feel than the last Copen I drove two years ago, which allowed me to feel almost literally with my fingertips the condition of the front tyres as the event wore on. With the uprated springs and shortened ratios, the Copen felt like a lighter and angrier supercharged Mini. It's one of the very few, if not only FF car I've driven that genuinely wants to rotate mid corner instead of simply turning and dragging its arse along. I hardly even did anything to the default settings of the fully customisable parts I bought, either; they're set up out of the box to give a comfortable, capable base, one that only requires tinkering to suit personal tastes, but it's plenty good enough for me as it is.

View attachment 1248080

The only slight complaint I had during shakedown was that the only thing high about the High RPM Turbo Kit was the person when they named it; peak power is still squarely in the stock car's region of ~6,500rpm, and the car still dies past 7,5. And to think, this stupid snail is almost the cost of the entire car when brand new! However, those complaints quickly evaporated when the COTW technicians told me that the turbo was generating its peak boost of 0.5 Bar from as middling as 5,500rpm, though it's a shame that neither Toyota nor Understeer had a turbo gauge to fit in the car. With torque that far down and gear ratios that short, I was even taking the slowest corner of the course, the hairpin turning away from the Shortcut Corse, in 3rd. Because my car retained the 3 pedal setup, I could even skip shift from 3rd to 5th on the downhill back straight to save fuel, and the car's stupid mid range torque just made it seem natural.

View attachment 1248081

All this meant that I kept the revs low and could save fuel where the peaky Hondas had to rev out their VTECs, and they still couldn't match my pace on the straights! The quickest of those even had to make two stops for fuel within the hour, whereas I made do with just one stop with a slightly lean fuel mix. Yes, I was getting out braked and out cornered. Yes, my front left tyre was almost completely out of tread when I pit for a new set. But after a dominant few opening laps, the Honda drivers fell back, almost as if they gave up. Even as my lap times went off a cliff witb my front tyres, they never did catch up. They just could not cope with the Copen.

And, you know what? I'd be lying if I wrote that I didn't have the goofiest smile on my face the entire time. The 1.2 million winning prize was just the cherry on the Active Top :)

********************​

"ES! ES! ESSSSSSS! HE DID IT! HE WON! MY COPPY WOOOOOON!"

"I was watching. Congratulations are in order!"

"C'mon Es, I just got 600k for that! Lemme treat you to some Affogato at the GT Café. You HAVE to come! You can't say no to Affogato!"

"I'd love to, Rahrah, but I... ah sh— YARD! PUT THAT PLASMA CUTTER DOWN! We have procedures— OBELISK! OBELISK RUN!"

"Heehee. Is everyone at Car of the Week like this? Es? Es, you there?"

"Haaaah... god's sake... No, no not really. Honestly, if you just wanted your Coppy to win, I'm sure all you had to do was to ask Vic. Would've been way easier than doing all this."

"I just hoped that the ride in the Copen was what he needed, Es. I've never seen someone so sad in Seven Haven before. I mean, gosh, it's right there in the name, isn't it?! It's illegal to be that gloomy here!"

"Still can't stand seeing people sad, huh?"

"Yeah, but honestly, how did you do it? Everything went exactly like you said it would!"

"I've edited that man's diatribe for 3 years now, I think I know the way his brain works."

"You're so evil, Es!"

"I'm just good at my job, Rahrah. Lee—XSquareStickIt—is a critic. He tends to see the negatives first. Sometimes he doesn't get past that. I think that's especially true for how he sees himself. He often needs those around him to pull his head out his ass to see the bigger picture. I... probably shouldn't have sent him alone to Seven Haven, in retrospect. It's just... this new writer, he..."

"Maybe... maybe I'll tell him to... um... 'get his head out his ass' next time we meet. Did I say that right?"

"Y–you will? Sarah, that's... wow."

"I know. I need to change. As do you, and everyone else."
Absolutely incredible writing. Well done. 👏

Also, Sarah lore. 😲
 
It’s that same dream again, Battling the heavy hitters of the GT World Series, the only thing that changes is the track.

I’m fighting tooth and nail every lap with the likes of Gallo, Kokubun, Hizal and Lopez, a dream battle for glory.

But dreams have a nasty habit of turning into nightmares when you’re not paying attention.

One by one, each of their names and cars start glitching out and being replaced with one name and different colours.


Sophy..


(Phone Rings)

I jolt awake, both annoyed and relieved at being woken up by the phone for once, I notice it’s Esther’s number.

“She doesn’t usually reach out to me unless things have hit the fan at COTW HQ” I wondered.

(Answers it)

“Hey Esther.”

“And here I was thinking you’d never pick up” was the calm yet monotone response.

“For once Esther, your weekly calls actually did me a solid, dragged me out of a nightmare.”

“You’re welcome.”

“This woman I swear” was the thought that flashed through my head, “Monotone yet filled with unintentional sass.”

“So what’s the reason you’re calling Esh?”
“Has Yard gotten access to the Plasma Cutter again?”

“Thank god no, not after last time” was her quick response.

“Still can’t believe you pulled off the legal gymnastics to bail us out of being responsible for that mess, didn’t know he could do THAT much damage with it.”

“Don’t remind me, my fight or flight response kicks in anytime I see him even remotely near cutting equipment.”

And then just like that, Esh gets to brass tacks on her reason for calling, She mentions that the weekly car has been shipped to BB Raceway and there’s a plane ticket already to go for me.

“So I’d assume that’s everything Esther?”

“Well there is one more thing you need to know, ever since that ‘Incident’ of yours with Sophy, people have joked about you being a human version of her because of your rapid pace, so expect your car to be dressed up like a Sophy AI.”

“I’d be lying if I said that day still doesn’t bother me, but it’s much more manageable these days Esh.”

Oh if only it was that simple dear Vic, you did defeat Sophy cleanly, but her code at the time had a bug in it, a very human trait.

Spite.


“You still there Vic?” Esther asked.

“Y-yeah i’m still here.” I hesitantly responded.

“Try not to zone out while racing Vic, talk to you soon.” She hangs up before I can even begin to retort.

Chuckles “That Esh certainly knows where to poke a guy with a stick to wind them up sometimes.”

Hours later.

As I leaned back in 1st Class, sipping on a Whiskey, my thoughts drifted back to that fateful day when Sophy briefly Became Human.

It was an invitational event, some of the best drivers in GT, plus a few wildcards like me were invited to battle the newest in AI Drivers in one on one duels.

Sophy was the name they gave the AI drivers, a faster AI with human tendencies like more effective blocking.

But that’s not what I remember Sophy for.

After a tense battle which came down to the wire, I edged out the AI Sophy at the line.

I had done it, I had outran So-

BANG

And the last thing I saw before hitting the wall head-on, was my mirrors full of Sophy’s car pushing me towards it.

The sanctioning body decided to payout a very huge settlement to me because as it turned out, The Sophy AI code threw a fatal error and I was the poor sod who got caught in the crossfire and Esther in legal terms, was baying for blood.

Personally? I think she secretly hoped that they’d refuse to take the blame so then she could truly bury them.

I fully recovered, but let’s just say me and Sophy AI aren’t exactly on speaking terms these days.


(Annd Cut 🎞️)

And here we are at the part of the review where we stop adding to the COTW Lore and actually review a car. :lol:

The 2002 Daihatsu Copen.

Packing a 660CC Turbo 4 banger built to Kei Car regulations, it makes 62hp which is sent to the front tyres via a 5 speed manual gearbox.

Weighing 830kgs(800kgs without the Active Top Folding Electric Roof.), it’s equipped with Comfort Mediums as standard.

Like a few Kei Cars of GT’s past, the engine is rev happy with a 9000 Rpm rev limit, but it’s pretty much gasping for air at that level as it makes peak power at around 6500 Rpm.:crazy:

Which is fine if you choose to row your own gears, but not all of us run manual gears. :P

Which is why i’m giving @Baron Blitz Red a shout out for attempting to run manual gears for this weeks meet after stubbornly sticking with Automatic for so long. :D

The racing was very closely contested throughout the night with @Obelisk and @XSquareStickIt putting up serious resistance against me.

Handling was hampered by the CM tyres, but it was still a pleasant drive.

Throw on some Dirt tyres however and send it around a little Rallycross track and it’s a absolute riot to drive. :D

Can you get faster cars for less than the 18K the Copen costs? Yes.

Is the Copen worth the 18K? Yes.

Is it a Sleeper? Also Yes. :sly:

Verdict: Sleeper 😉👍
 
Hey COTW! Just wanna cut into the reviews a moment to let you all know that @XSquareStickIt and COTW staff have been hard at work coordinating with Spec Racing Club to bring you all a team battle event!

What exactly am I going on about?

Well, we are going to be racing the Radical SR3 in two back to back endurance races.

The first race will be using a (slightly) modified version of COTW's driving and lobby rules and run with the cars at full stock BOP. The second will be running SRC's spec for the car.

Incidentally, that spec sheet consists only of the following three parts:
Height-Adjustable Sports Suspension
Sports: Medium tyres
Full Control Computer

Looking at 250 HP, factory weight and ~ 572.8 pp.

Additionally, the official COTW livery can be found by clicking on this image:
cf26739ca6b0e79cb12da8082616e51b_thumb_l_x2.jpg

Some courtesy rules for the livery: You are allowed to add your own decals to the livery, but you are not allowed to delete the ones already present on the style. Additionally, the colors already present on the Style may not be altered, this is so that teams are easy to differentiate at a glance.

We're planning to run the races on a Saturday in May at 1:30 PM EST. Just not sure which one yet.

I'm posting this now as we're looking to gauge potential team sizes so COTW guys, let Square know if you're interested, and we'll use that to figure out team sizes.

Additional details will be shared once we're locked in w/ all the miscellaneous stuff.

Just a friendly reminder: We are all friends here. :) This is for fun.

Ciao for now. RX7 review status: pre-gameplay draft completed, pending gameplay session & media.
 
Last edited:
Systematic shouting and rhythmic beeping backed by a constant, low hymn of a diesel engine chugging along tells me that work is about to begin for the second time since I moved to Seven Haven, and hopefully it'd be something much more pleasant to sleep in than a weathered and wrung 1990 Mazda.

Clawing the sand from my eyes, I felt my way around the walls of the pitch black, unfamiliar garage, trying to get the door. The year long moving process has taken its toll, and embers still remain from the utter train wreck—

"Good morning, XSquareStickIt!", came Sarah's cheerful voice from the other side of the door before it was even fully open. Her usual, uncanny excitement meant she barely even had to raise her voice to be heard over the trucks and truckers. The morning sun pierces my ill adjusted eyes, causing me to recoil into the familiar, yet fleeting darkness of the garage. Urgh, why'd they have to build the door facing the freaking sunrise...

"Morning, sleepy head! The next car's here! Aren't you excited? I can't wait to see what it is! Why don't you go take a look?"

This is already too much adrenaline in the morning for my retired racing driver bones to handle.

"Mnng...", I mumble in feeble attempt to return her greeting. It's always tiring trying to match Sarah's tempo, and so I decide to do as she said and mosey on over to where the cargo had just been lowered. It was still covered in a tarp way too big for it, with the whole thing looking no wider than a Queen size bed and not much taller than a kiddy pool. I guess it's another week of sleeping in the Mazda, then.

"Shall I?", Sarah eagerly lifts a corner of the tarp to her chest with both her clenched fists, glimmering eyes locked in my direction and beaming her sun rivaling smile squarely at me. I gesture for her to just "get on with it", and she tears away at the tarp with a twirl of her entire body, wrapping herself up with it in the process, which does nothing at all to hide her boundless zeal. "Ta–daa~!"

View attachment 1248065

"Urgh Esther WHAT THE HELL?!", I awake with a furor. Of all the colours and liveries she could've sent for testing, reviewing, and photo shooting, THIS was the best she can do?!

"What's wrong, don't you like it?" Sarah quizzically quips. It's really annoying how bad she is at reading the room and situation, but at the same time, it's impossible to hate someone with a pure heart and smile like that. I try my best to not drag her down, but as you can probably tell, I'm not very good at it, especially when I'm exiled out here to the purgatory that is Seven Haven, and my office keeps sending me stuff like chip computers and exhaust pipes for cars I don't have with me, expecting me to review them. Am I supposed to smash them together and tell you how well they function as a loudspeaker?

And this was the last straw the broke the camel's back. "IT'S ****ING PINK!"

"Hey, it's got a four cylinder engine—rare for a Kei car. And I love the fully automatic roof of this Active Top model!"

"That adds thirty kilos to its kerb mass!"

"It's got a five speed manual!"

"Geared to the moon!"

"It revs to 9,000rpm!"

"It dies past 7,000!"

"Hmph! You have no idea how much attention you'll get parking this at the GT Café—the gathering spot for enthusiasts the world over, mind you!"

Sarah, "Hmph"ing me? That's... so out of character for her that it's downright eerie, despite her cartoonishly playful pout, like a pissed off caterpillar in its cocoon. I wonder if it's something I said?

Trying to find something nice to say about the car, I open the driver side door to find...

"EWW! It's an automatic?!"

"Well, this is a surprise! I can't say I've seen one with an automatic gearbox before in Seven Haven. Wouldn't it be good to review one in automatic, after your initial review of a manual two years ago?"

After a prolonged, exasperated sigh that was more a cry for help than a sigh, I whimper, "if I have to".

********************​

View attachment 1248066

Race day came as it always does, and one thing very quickly became clear simply by listening to the cars from the pit lane: my peers were mostly driving manual Copens, including but not limited to Obelisk, who brought his darling spec cup car to the meet, and Vic, who may or may not be a malevolent AI coded with a singular purpose of destroying any racer on the track with humanly impossible pace. Still trying to figure that one out after three years.

I'm no stranger to losing races to such stiff competition, but if we are to test for the pace difference between an automatic and manual, shouldn't the faster guys be saddled with the automatic instead? "An Automatic Win! Retired Racing Driver Tries To Beat The Algorithm: Lap Number 5 Will SHOCK You!!!" is a title that practically writes itself. As stated earlier, Vic is a malevolent AI whose literal and singular purpose in this world is to humiliate us with equal machinery, and you'll have to surgically remove the 5 speed manual gear lever from Obelisk's rectum with a plasma cutter to seperate him from his beloved Copen, and I doubt even our handy fireman, Yard_Sale, has either the hardware or expertise for that.

I might be a retired racing driver, but one thing that refuses to get left behind is a competitive fire: When I see someone else doing what I do, but better, it burns me up inside. It could be anything: driving, writing, being happy... doesn't matter: I want to win. I can't explain it. That's all there is to it.

"ESTHEEEEER!", I bellow out the moment the call connected, the pit walls adding a demonic echo to my agony. "WHY'D YOU SEND ME AN AUTOMATIC?! EVERYONE BUT ME AND BARON HAS A MANUAL!"

"We ran out of manuals", was her calm to a point of dismissive reply.

And that was that, really. What more do you want me to say to that?

"If you insist on a manual...", she unexpectedly continues after my dejected silence. "You'll have to source one for yourself in Seven Haven. You should have about 4 minutes and 27 seconds before race start. Your best bet would be to ask the locals."

"What are the chances that someone here just randomly has a bone stock 2002 Copen with the rare 5 speed stick, charitable enough to loan it to a total stranger that has 0 Credits in his racing suit?!"

"I don't see how I can help you with that over the phone."
Translation: I don't see how that is my problem.

"May I hang up now? I have my job as an editor to attend to."
Translation: Shut up and leave me alone.

"Hello, XSquareStickIt!"

"YIIIIAAAARGH!"

click

"Would you like to borrow my Copen?"

"Can you please stop calling me by my full— wait, what?"

Sarah leans in towards me, ripping my radio earpieces from my ears, and playfully raising her voice, "WOULD YOU LIKE TO BORROW MY COPEN?!"

I clamp down on her forearms in sheer excitement and likewise lean in towards her face, bringing us closer than we've ever been. Shouting even louder back at her, "YEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!"

********************​

View attachment 1248067

Debuting in 2002, the diminutive Daihatsu Copen was almost a lone lighthouse in a very dark time for the car enthusiast. With stricter emission laws that year dealing the final blow to beloved classics like the Supra, RX-7, GT-R, GTO, and Silvia, the light, cheap, cheerful, peppy, and very agile Copen proves that not all sporting spirit is dead in Japan. As history has now shown us with various martyrs like the AZ-1 and S660, sporty Kei cars are a packaging paradox that don't tend to sell, but the Copen defies this trend by still being in healthy production today, some 21 years after its debut, out–lasting its sporty brethren regardless of size. Clearly, Toyota has gotten something very, very right with the Copen that other manufacturers aren't privy to. But what is it exactly that makes it so special?

View attachment 1248068

To me, it's the fact that the Copen is sensibly front wheel drive, instead of its other sporty Kei companions that try to adopt rear wheel drive like a full sized car. With a wheelbase that short, the cars inevitably become incredibly snappy and tail happy things, and that's before some manufacturers go the extra inch to sling the engine aft the cockpit or freaking turbocharge them, turning them into widowmakers wearing a Kei car smile that would even cause seasoned racing drivers to express concern over driving on the public roads. The sensible front wheel drive layout coupled with the meticulous reliability and build quality Toyota are known for results in a safe, cheap, economical, fun, agile, and solid car that reliably puts a smile on its driver's face, on or off the track.

View attachment 1248069

That is, if you spec your Copen with a manual gearbox.

The most immediate thing that strikes one when driving the Copen is, well, how slow it is. With only 62HP, I could slip into and wake from a several boredom induced comas before the Copen hits 100km/h from a downhill standing start with tailwind. But, there's a slight trick to that 62HP; said 62HP only happens at 6,400rpm, and so you think, "wow, that's high up. It's a rev–it–out engine, then?" Except, you'd be wrong, because 6,5 is mere middling range for the minuscule JB-DET engine, which can spin all the way up to a Supra surpassing, S2000 rivaling 9,000rpm before fuel cut! Not that there's much of a chance anyone experiences fuel cut in the Copen, as the high revving engine isn't rev happy at all, terminally hyperventilating past 7,000rpm. With the rather wide ratios of the 5 speed gearbox, 7,500rpm is the highest the engine will realistically see on the racetrack before the clutch pedal is pressed in. The power loss is so severe that first timer drivers who rev their Copens to near redline will get gapped by several car lengths by a driver who shifts the Copen correctly. Well, several Copen car lengths, but several car lengths, nonetheless.

View attachment 1248070

Even when specced and driven correctly however, there is nothing a Kei car can do to hide its lack of speed on a racetrack. While full sized cars with their full sized power look to smoothly connect out–in–out lines to maximise turning radii and minimise speed loss, the to–do list in the Copen is instead to simply find the shortest distance through a ribbon of asphalt, as its low speed and narrow body often mean that it will have turning radius and grip to spare through many of the turns of the wide, smooth, sanctioned racetracks meant to facilitate battle among GT3 and LMP1 machines. If the 203HP FC RX-7 from last week found most of these sanitised racetracks way too wide and smooth, then putting a Kei car on them feels like putting a paper plane on an actual runway. In fact, it's only at cumbersome, undignified bottlenecks of certain circuits where racing drivers have to damn near stall their racing cars, like the pit entry of Autopolis, that the Copen feels in its element. Suffice it to say that the Copen doesn't give that sensation often, and it's such a shame. I can only hope to imagine what these Kei cars must feel like at racing pace going door to door with each other in more confined spaces, such as the GT Arena nestled inside a stadium, or even the claustrophobic streets of Citta di Aria. Even Tsukuba feels too big and wide for these cars!

View attachment 1248071

One track that did feel a good fit for the Copen is the rallycross layout of Catalunya, and driving the Copen there was a real eye opening experience! Simply equipping Dirt tyres on the Copen shoots its PP value up from 292.88 to 338.58, and that's because those Dirt tyres are much, much more grippy even on the paved asphalt than the car's default road tyres! I could crank the wheel so much farther and with so much aggression that the car almost felt like it'd tip over before the tyres let go in the tightest bits of the circuit. Even on loose dirt surfaces, the Dirt tyres offered such an abundance of grip that one could Scandi Flick the car with the smallest amount of brake input. Between the short wheelbase, supple suspension, and gobs of turbocharged low end torque, the Copen felt remarkably like a pint sized rally car!

View attachment 1248072

On paved tarmac though, that soft suspension setup can become a slight problem, even with miserable Comfort Medium tyres. Under hard braking loads, the rear end can easily become rather detached from the road, and aggressive trail braking can transform the Copen Active Top into the Copen Hyperactive Rear. While this is very helpful for tight, low speed corners, it can be quite a harrowing experience at higher speed turns taken at triple digit km/h speeds. Of course, the car can't possibly carry a slide elegantly through to the corner exit, being FF, and so what tends to happen in these scenarios is that the car can go from oversteering into the apex of a corner to suddenly understeering into the outside barrier of the turn. Obelisk has already mentioned this in his deep dive into the Copen, but I'll restate it here because it really is that damn important: Do most of your braking in a straight line and only chuck it into a turn when you're almost fully off the brakes. In a momentum car such as the Copen, preserving speed through corners is tantamount to a good time, and nothing bleeds speed quite like snappy weight shifts or a meeting with the barrier.

View attachment 1248073

Annoyingly for a car with notably soft springs, the Copen is confoundingly bad at dealing with bumps and kerbs on the road. With a car this small, you'll often find yourself riding rumble strips whole to maximise the course, but the Copen has a very pronounced pause after being flung airbourne by these rumble strips before the springs and tyres find grip back on terra firma, instead of simply wafting past these road imperfections like most cars I complain about being soft. I'm guessing this is the one case wherein a car's lightness works against it? This problem is most prominently felt at the Inner Loop of Watkins Glen, though other tracks like Alsace Test Course can also bounce this problem into the limelight. I'm not saying to avoid these bumpy shortcuts; they're very much still the fastest way around the corners. Just make sure to leave a bit of buffer room in the "landing zone" to give the car some time to find its footing.

View attachment 1248074

Overall, the Copen is an inoffensive, solid all rounder of a sporty Kei car. With just a few tweaks to its engine mapping and a bit of beefing up to its suspension, I think it could've been something really spectacular. As it comes from the factory though, I think it's better for cruising around a tight city than it is tackling even the narrowest and winding of racetracks.

View attachment 1248075

********************​

"You beat Vic in the race! Well done! I knew you could do it, XSquareStickIt!", boomed Sarah's voice on cue with the sound of the door bursting open. Good thing I was taking off the top half of my suit and not the bottom.

"Eh, I got lucky. I started near pole and he got caught in traffic."

"I think you really might have what it takes to be someone really special here in Seven Haven, XSquareStickIt!"

"A-are you... listening to me?"

"How was the car? I bet it was great, wasn't it?"

"It was alright. Fun for one make races, but I don't think it'd be something I seek out again in the future."

"Ehhhh? But why not?"

I sigh. "You remember the day I first got here and you pulled some tendons out my socket dragging me around town? The Honda Fit I drove that day would run circles around it. And the events in Seven Haven have only gotten faster and faster since then. I really don't know what I ought to be doing with a car slower than that Fit."

"Why, enjoy it, if course! Cruise around the beautiful nature with the top down, soak in the sun and the attention you get when you roll up at GT Café, connect with new people..."

Yeah, maybe I ought to. It's just ironic how cars have become a stressful, transactional thing ever since they became my jobs. I suppose the surefire way to make yourself hate something is to make it your job. Maybe I ought to learn to relax a little before I burn myself out.

"...make you a millionaire, you know, the list is endless!"

"Yeah, maybe one day... hey, uh, are you... free? To grab... a MILLIONAIRE?!"

"Mm hmm! You heard me! There's this annual endurance series for Kei Cars held at Autopolis for Kei cars up to 400PP. The top prize is a cool 1.2 million Credits!"

"What's the competition like? Moves, Storias, Wakes, Midgets?"

"Beats and S660s."

"You're insane."

"...oh. You too, huh?"

Uh-oh! This conversation got real serious, real quick! What did I say? What did I do? I feel like I've accidentally put out the sun by sneezing or something, WHAT IS GOING ON? How can Sarah be sad? What did I do? What do I do?!

********************​

"Well now, ain't that a cute sight, that is, right there. What can I do yer for, stranger? Turn it into a top fuel dragster?", said the big, bald, burly man in betraying blue under the company's really red banner as he chuckled at the sight of a fat old man tumbling out of a car way too hip for him.

"Argh! Oof! Ahh... Ugh, seriously? Calling a tuner shop 'Understeer'? What next, a tyre company calling themselves 'Triangle Tyres'? An insurance company named 'Ham Kah Chan'?"

"A rose by any other name, son. Ya here to pimp yer ride, or pick a fight? I've got High Lift Camshafts lubed up ready to stick up yours and grill over anti lag flames."

"I'm here to tune a car to pick a fight."

"Music to my ears either way, sonny. You got a benchmark or budget?"

"I'm told... to get this car as close to, but under... (I'm getting pranked, aren't I?) 400PP"

"Iiinnnnteresting, son. I think your best bet would be a power build, being a FF and all."

"Unfortunately, nah. I need a more frugal setup. It's going to have to last an hour on full tilt."

"400PP for a whole hour, eh? I'm startin' to get the picture, son. I'd recommend you start with weight savings, yeah. Weight is the main enemy to longevity, see-"

"Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeah, I know. How much can you take out of the car?"

"For Stage 1, we swap the car's batteries for a lighter variant. We also remove the car's weighty air con and stereo systems. Once we do this, the changes can't be undone, so make sure-"

"WHAT?"

"Ya hard on hearing, son? Need me to speak up?"

"Which goon of a mechanic can't put back batteries and air con after they've ripped them out?!"

"If you have a change of heart, son, you can always buy a whole new body for the car at... 21,600 Credits."

"THAT COSTS MORE THAN THE WHOLE CAR WHEN IT WAS NEW!"

"Logistics don't always work out for the end user for a small company such as ourselves, who hire only the most talented technicians that take the utmost–"

"Y-Y'know what? Nevermind the weight. 830 kilos is plenty light enough. Can I have a cage and some lightweight wheels?"

"Them's GT Auto's bidness next door."

"What? They're a car maintenance shop, and you're a tuning shop, why are you—"

"Them's the breaks, son."

"An AWD swap?"

"Only at our Mexican Branch."

"God's sake... Tyres. You have tyres? Comfort Softs? Do you weld them to the wheels and driveshafts? Can your mechanics take off a worn set, or do I have to buy a whole new car at inflated prices for fresh tyres?"

"You're looking to enter the Autopolis One Hour Kei Endurance for lil' Sarah, ain'tcha?"

H-how did he... That came out of nowhere!

I stood there, still with a dumbstruck look on my face. One moment this guy looks like a complete moron, and the next, it's like he has psychic powers. "You know Sarah?"

"Ain't a person here in Seven Haven who dunn' know her, son. But at the same time... hardly anyone here in Seven Haven knows her, either."

"What... are you talking about?"

"Lil' Sarah's not that good at talking 'bout herself. Unless you got special treatment?"

"N-no, nothing of the sort. I know nothing about her, either."

I never did stop to think about it.

"Well, either way, have a good package tune for the Copen, actually. Low ratio manual transmission, sports suspension, a smarter chip, freer flowing exhaust, more resilient brake pads, lighter flywheels, a fuel controller, and Stage 1 weight reduction... basically, what the spec car folks run. Battle tested base tune, easy to build further upon. We've done this for a great many folk."

"Hmm? Nah. I want full customisability for the Suspension, Diff, and Gearbox."

"You sure that's not overkill, son? We have 'em, sure, but they'll 'COST MORE THAN THE WHOLE CAR WHEN IT WAS NEW' y'know?", he says with a chuckle. Sigh. And this is why the end user loses out in a monopoly.

"You get what you pay for, right? They're more worthwhile in the long term in case she ever gets serious about this."

"Ain't your first rodeo, I hope?"

"It's been a while since my last."

"You got the Credits?"

"No discount for the Understeer decals on the car?"

"I'll throw in the fuel controller and your second set of tyres for free."

"Fair enough."

At checkout, this is what my shopping list looked like:

ITEM:
PRICE (Cr.):
Comfort: Soft
COMPLEMENTARY​
Comfort: Soft
1,120​
Fully Customizable Suspension
12,000​
Fully Customizable Differential
5,250​
Full Customizable Computer
3,500​
Fully Customizable Manual Transmission
11,000​
High–RPM Turbocharger
17,200​
Racing Intercooler
3,100​
Racing Air Filter
2,000​
Racing Muffler
7,000​
Racing Exhaust Manifold
2,450​
Racing Brake Pads
1,000​
Brake Balance Controller
1,500​
Power Fuel Controller
COMPLEMENTARY​
—​
—​
Grand Total:
46,420
Power:
62HP→115HP
Weight:
830kg (1,830lbs)→830kg (1,830lbs)
Performance Points:
292.88PP→399.80PP
—​
—​
THANK YOU AND PLEASE COME AGAIN.
Understeer Engineering

...plus another 4,000 Credits for a set of lightweight 14–Inch Yokohama ADVAN Racing GT wheels from GT Auto. Yes, downsized from the stock 15s. I hear large wheels aren't that good for fuel economy. Wouldn't want a puncture at the 59th minute, either. I think 14s are much more proportionate to the rest of the car, anyway. I wanted a roll cage, but I literally cannot contort my fat body enough to get into and out of the Kei car with the cage, so I guess the strat come Sunday is to "just not crash". Or get crashed into. My experience tells me that's more often than not the optimal strat to win races.

With this being someone else's car, I wanted to make sure that I only did bolt on mods, so that they can be easily removed or undone if not to Sarah's liking. With this being her only car as well, I wanted to retain the car's usability as a road car, which meant that the air con and stereo had to stay, and I opted for the adjustable manual gearbox instead of the sequential, keeping the car's stock clutch and flywheel so it doesn't stall easily. It's also for this reason that I didn't opt for the carbon ceramic brakes. That, and, well, the OE brakes on this thing work just fine, honestly. I think putting carbon ceramics on this thing is liable to fire off the car's airbags on full braking. Only change to the braking system are uprated pads (because they're cheap) and a brake balance controller to shift as much braking load to the rear as possible to preserve front tyre life. And after that, all that remained was adding power while keeping within 400PP... whatever that means. To this end, a high RPM Turbo kit replaces the wanting stock blowers. The full racing, straight pipe exhaust looks stupid as a single exit pokes out of a rear bumper with cutouts for two, and it sounds like a sexually aroused moose with anal cancer passing gas, but it's a necessary part with the big turbo. I'm definitely taking them off first thing after the race.

"Ain't every day I get a nutjob cruise up to my humble shop ready to drop BMW i3 money on parts alone, lemme tell ya! Whoo! This calls for a drink!"

"I don't like half assing things. Often works to my detriment."

He turns his back to me, half bottle in one hand and grabbing tool after tool off the wall with the other, knowing full well what his next job would entail, and exactly which tools in which sizes he'd need for said job. "Ain't my tale to tell, but if you're dropping this much money to risk life and limb for her out on the track, I figure ya oughta know."

"Know what?"

"That it ain't easy being a car girl. She used to get mocked a lot in school by the hardcore kids for liking the Copen. You know, the Skyline, Supra, VTEC crowd. They think she says she likes cars just to be popular with the boys. Kids are cruel like that."

"I know."

"But Sarah liked what she liked. No a'changin that. Kids have a way of fixating on the first thing that catches their attention, y' hear? Sometimes it even ends up definin' their whole lives."

"I know."

"She had a rough go at it, growing up. That's why she's so bright and bubbly, y'know? She dunn' want no one to feel what she felt. You could tell her you like a total toilet of a car like the MiTo and she'd be all like, 'Oh, that's a great car, I'm happy for you! I'm sure you'll have many special moments and memories with the car!' Or some generic crap like that."

"I know."

"But, see... hrragh! That there's the problem if you ask an old tuning shop fart like me. You don't recognise faults and fix 'em, you never improve."

"I know."

"S'ppose you can see it in her car: it's her ideal Copen; perfect the way it is. Just the way she saw it in magazines 'n blog posts way back when. Her keepin' it bone stock must be like a middle finger to the pops and bangs crowd. It's one thing standin' up for yerself and what you love, but lil' Sarah—maybe it's not my place to be sayin' this—I think she's stuck where she stood firm in the past. Ain't no way to be livin' life, 'specially not a car life."

"I know."

"I don't know who you are, stranger. But I'm glad you sparked sumthin' in Sarah. Girl's been radiating a million watt smile from a dead battery for years. Can't even imagine what it's been doin' to her soul."

Just as he finishes saying that, a trolley full of boxes; big, small, and everything in between, is pushed up to the side of the Copen, along with a bevy of tools ready to intrude. "Competition's got its way of forcing change in folk, lemme tell ya. High time 'lil Sarah grew up a little. Methinks this Copen's been waiting to have its cherry popped for a long time."

"I kno—wait, WHAT?!"

"GAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA! Don't worry too much 'bout it, son. I think she'll be plenty happy just to have someone stand by her and take 'er seriously. Just don't crash and you'll be fine."

"At Autopolis? In a Copen? Not likely."

"Ahh haha! Those're fighting words backed by pro experience, ain't they."

Aw crap, now I'm the one who spoke too much.

********************​

View attachment 1248076

I'll be extra honest when saying this: I have severe doubts about this whole shebang from the start.

Strolling through the pits, I feel like I've somehow mistakenly driven into a S660 vs Beat grudge match: those were all the cars I've seen in the paddock thus far. Is there a clearance sale for these cars I missed, or what? It's enough to make me doubt my sanity and check again and again the official paperwork that I've shown up at the right time and the right place with an eligible car. Then again, I'm showing up to an endurance race with an FF car—almost literally the one legged man in an ass kicking contest. I don't think sanity is quite in the cards for me.

View attachment 1248077

The Honda Beat, despite being a brilliant car in its own right, I'm not so worried about; those damn things are death traps even with fresh tyres. Rather, it's the Honda S660 that concerns me: Not only does the Copen weigh the exact same as the much more modern midship, but the damn thing has a 6 speed mated to a highly versatile powerplant. Plus, most of these cars have GT Wings and sequential gearboxes from the sound of it. Seriously, a GT Wing, on a Kei car that struggles to hit 160km/h on the downhill back straight of Autopolis? Anti Lag in a fuel constrained race? Had the event regulations not limited our cars to 400PP and Comfort Soft tyres, these guys would have thrown their souls into the bin if it meant making them a car that looked or sounded faster.

In other words, I think I rolled up to a typical Honda meet with a Daihatsu Copen.

And, of all the tracks to have this Kei car grudge match on, Autopolis was their great idea? The track that's renowned for boring, impossible to overtake races even with the blistering, incomprehensible speed of Super Formula cars? Yeah, that track, and not even the mercifully self aware shortcut course, either, but the full 4.7km bonanza of boring. This is a track with a million different feasible lines through its non flowing corners, and none of them feel right.

All of that works perfectly to my advantage in the Copen.

View attachment 1248078

Due to the handling deficit of being FF, my Copen was allowed to have more power than the rest of the field. Being a full sized course usually hosting faster machinery, this track is WAY too long for Kei cars... which means many, many prolonged seconds of full throttle simply waiting to get to the next corner, during which I effortlessly sailed past the sequential Hondas with the full force of 400 primed peepees pinning me to the back of my seat... whatever those are.

View attachment 1248079

The car as a whole felt immense! I'm not sure what Sarah or Understeer did to the steering of the Copen, but it felt WAY stronger with much more granular feel than the last Copen I drove two years ago, which allowed me to feel almost literally with my fingertips the condition of the front tyres as the event wore on. With the uprated springs and shortened ratios, the Copen felt like a lighter and angrier supercharged Mini. It's one of the very few, if not only FF car I've driven that genuinely wants to rotate mid corner instead of simply turning and dragging its arse along. I hardly even did anything to the default settings of the fully customisable parts I bought, either; they're set up out of the box to give a comfortable, capable base, one that only requires tinkering to suit personal tastes, but it's plenty good enough for me as it is.

View attachment 1248080

The only slight complaint I had during shakedown was that the only thing high about the High RPM Turbo Kit was the person when they named it; peak power is still squarely in the stock car's region of ~6,500rpm, and the car still dies past 7,5. And to think, this stupid snail is almost the cost of the entire car when brand new! However, those complaints quickly evaporated when the COTW technicians told me that the turbo was generating its peak boost of 0.5 Bar from as middling as 5,500rpm, though it's a shame that neither Toyota nor Understeer had a turbo gauge to fit in the car. With torque that far down and gear ratios that short, I was even taking the slowest corner of the course, the hairpin turning away from the Shortcut Corse, in 3rd. Because my car retained the 3 pedal setup, I could even skip shift from 3rd to 5th on the downhill back straight to save fuel, and the car's stupid mid range torque just made it seem natural.

View attachment 1248081

All this meant that I kept the revs low and could save fuel where the peaky Hondas had to rev out their VTECs, and they still couldn't match my pace on the straights! The quickest of those even had to make two stops for fuel within the hour, whereas I made do with just one stop with a slightly lean fuel mix. Yes, I was getting out braked and out cornered. Yes, my front left tyre was almost completely out of tread when I pit for a new set. But after a dominant few opening laps, the Honda drivers fell back, almost as if they gave up. Even as my lap times went off a cliff witb my front tyres, they never did catch up. They just could not cope with the Copen.

And, you know what? I'd be lying if I wrote that I didn't have the goofiest smile on my face the entire time. The 1.2 million winning prize was just the cherry on the Active Top :)

********************​

"ES! ES! ESSSSSSS! HE DID IT! HE WON! MY COPPY WOOOOOON!"

"I was watching. Congratulations are in order!"

"C'mon Es, I just got 600k for that! Lemme treat you to some Affogato at the GT Café. You HAVE to come! You can't say no to Affogato!"

"I'd love to, Rahrah, but I... ah sh— YARD! PUT THAT PLASMA CUTTER DOWN! We have procedures— OBELISK! OBELISK RUN!"

"Heehee. Is everyone at Car of the Week like this? Es? Es, you there?"

"Haaaah... god's sake... No, no not really. Honestly, if you just wanted your Coppy to win, I'm sure all you had to do was to ask Vic. Would've been way easier than doing all this."

"I just hoped that the ride in the Copen was what he needed, Es. I've never seen someone so sad in Seven Haven before. I mean, gosh, it's right there in the name, isn't it?! It's illegal to be that gloomy here!"

"Still can't stand seeing people sad, huh?"

"Yeah, but honestly, how did you do it? Everything went exactly like you said it would!"

"I've edited that man's diatribe for 3 years now, I think I know the way his brain works."

"You're so evil, Es!"

"I'm just good at my job, Rahrah. Lee—XSquareStickIt—is a critic. He tends to see the negatives first. Sometimes he doesn't get past that. I think that's especially true for how he sees himself. He often needs those around him to pull his head out his ass to see the bigger picture. I... probably shouldn't have sent him alone to Seven Haven, in retrospect. It's just... this new writer, he..."

"Maybe... maybe I'll tell him to... um... 'get his head out his ass' next time we meet. Did I say that right?"

"Y–you will? Sarah, that's... wow."

"I know. I need to change. As do you, and everyone else."

It’s that same dream again, Battling the heavy hitters of the GT World Series, the only thing that changes is the track.

I’m fighting tooth and nail every lap with the likes of Gallo, Kokubun, Hizal and Lopez, a dream battle for glory.

But dreams have a nasty habit of turning into nightmares when you’re not paying attention.

One by one, each of their names and cars start glitching out and being replaced with one name and different colours.


Sophy..


(Phone Rings)

I jolt awake, both annoyed and relieved at being woken up by the phone for once, I notice it’s Esther’s number.

“She doesn’t usually reach out to me unless things have hit the fan at COTW HQ” I wondered.

(Answers it)

“Hey Esther.”

“And here I was thinking you’d never pick up” was the calm yet monotone response.

“For once Esther, your weekly calls actually did me a solid, dragged me out of a nightmare.”

“You’re welcome.”

“This woman I swear” was the thought that flashed through my head, “Monotone yet filled with unintentional sass.”

“So what’s the reason you’re calling Esh?”
“Has Yard gotten access to the Plasma Cutter again?”

“Thank god no, not after last time” was her quick response.

“Still can’t believe you pulled off the legal gymnastics to bail us out of being responsible for that mess, didn’t know he could do THAT much damage with it.”

“Don’t remind me, my fight or flight response kicks in anytime I see him even remotely near cutting equipment.”

And then just like that, Esh gets to brass tacks on her reason for calling, She mentions that the weekly car has been shipped to BB Raceway and there’s a plane ticket already to go for me.

“So I’d assume that’s everything Esther?”

“Well there is one more thing you need to know, ever since that ‘Incident’ of yours with Sophy, people have joked about you being a human version of her because of your rapid pace, so expect your car to be dressed up like a Sophy AI.”

“I’d be lying if I said that day still doesn’t bother me, but it’s much more manageable these days Esh.”

Oh if only it was that simple dear Vic, you did defeat Sophy cleanly, but her code at the time had a bug in it, a very human trait.

Spite.


“You still there Vic?” Esther asked.

“Y-yeah i’m still here.” I hesitantly responded.

“Try not to zone out while racing Vic, talk to you soon.” She hangs up before I can even begin to retort.

Chuckles “That Esh certainly knows where to poke a guy with a stick to wind them up sometimes.”

Hours later.

As I leaned back in 1st Class, sipping on a Whiskey, my thoughts drifted back to that fateful day when Sophy briefly Became Human.

It was an invitational event, some of the best drivers in GT, plus a few wildcards like me were invited to battle the newest in AI Drivers in one on one duels.

Sophy was the name they gave the AI drivers, a faster AI with human tendencies like more effective blocking.

But that’s not what I remember Sophy for.

After a tense battle which came down to the wire, I edged out the AI Sophy at the line.

I had done it, I had outran So-

BANG

And the last thing I saw before hitting the wall head-on, was my mirrors full of Sophy’s car pushing me towards it.

The sanctioning body decided to payout a very huge settlement to me because as it turned out, The Sophy AI code threw a fatal error and I was the poor sod who got caught in the crossfire and Esther in legal terms, was baying for blood.

Personally? I think she secretly hoped that they’d refuse to take the blame so then she could truly bury them.

I fully recovered, but let’s just say me and Sophy AI aren’t exactly on speaking terms these days.


(Annd Cut 🎞️)

And here we are at the part of the review where we stop adding to the COTW Lore and actually review a car. :lol:

The 2002 Daihatsu Copen.

Packing a 660CC Turbo 4 banger built to Kei Car regulations, it makes 62hp which is sent to the front tyres via a 5 speed manual gearbox.

Weighing 830kgs(800kgs without the Active Top Folding Electric Roof.), it’s equipped with Comfort Mediums as standard.

Like a few Kei Cars of GT’s past, the engine is rev happy with a 9000 Rpm rev limit, but it’s pretty much gasping for air at that level as it makes peak power at around 6500 Rpm.:crazy:

Which is fine if you choose to row your own gears, but not all of us run manual gears. :P

Which is why i’m giving @Baron Blitz Red a shout out for attempting to run manual gears for this weeks meet after stubbornly sticking with Automatic for so long. :D

The racing was very closely contested throughout the night with @Obelisk and @XSquareStickIt putting up serious resistance against me.

Handling was hampered by the CM tyres, but it was still a pleasant drive.

Throw on some Dirt tyres however and send it around a little Rallycross track and it’s a absolute riot to drive. :D

Can you get faster cars for less than the 18K the Copen costs? Yes.

Is the Copen worth the 18K? Yes.

Is it a Sleeper? Also Yes. :sly:

Verdict: Sleeper 😉👍





AA79C9EC-9730-4E1D-A5EC-811B057AC865.gif
 
If you thought last week's car sparked some fires, wait till you see what we have in store this week...

Chosen by our charismatic poet, @SomePlayaDude , we're welcoming the Chevrolet Corvette Stringray '20 (C8) into the spotlight of COTW!

Parking Structure_.jpeg


Poetic, for it seems I get to choose week 3's COTW car in GT world and Mini Mexico. Or coincidence, I dunno. But I'll take the chance.

To add on this moment of poetry, the car of choice from me will be the Chevrolet Corvette C8 '20. My first foray in Mini Mexico's COTW adventures came with this car on highlight, and you guessed it: it's an intentional throwback.

If we take out the personal bit, we have a car loaded with firsts. First mid engined Corvette. First GT7 debutee. Umm.. many more firsts I'm sure exists but haven't really thought about them.

Though.. I have a deep dark feeling somebody KNOWS this is what I'm gonna do. But NAAH that's just too crazy.

Is the C8's shift from FR to MR high time, or heresy? Join us on Tuesday, 18th April, 10 P.M. CST or Saturday, 22nd April, 5 P.M. Singapore time to find out for yourself, or start weighing in with writing if you already have a stance! Whichever side of the coin you fall on, I have a feeling this week is going to be an epic one.

...in fact, I can almost pinky swear it ;)
 
Back